Harley Quinn’s Secular Deconstruction Is Perfect Superhero Comedy
the anime harley quinn The series is another former DC Universe Original that has found a second life on HBO Max. In a surprising move for new owners Warner Bros. Discovery, which has canceled more projects than it renewed, the show will get a new season. A reason why harley quinn might have been spared because its profane deconstruction of comic histories and DC mythos is perfectly timed superhero comedy.
She-Hulk: Lawyer is Marvel Studios‘ first full-length comedy series, and it also pokes fun at superhero conventions. Yet, because everything is connected in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some cows are too sacred to be turned into a humorous burger. Characters can joke about Hulk or Daredevil, but characters can’t be completely ridiculous. It’s almost a version of the “laugh with” and “laugh at” debate, and harley quinn 100% mocks the DC Universe. From Batman’s romantic inclinations to Christopher Meloni’s utterly unbalanced performance as Commissioner Gordon, the series pokes fun at everyone and everything in the DC Comics universe, winning over even the fanboys it satirizes. This fearlessness and sheer luck in the timing make harley quinn the first comedy to dismantle the conventions of comics.
It makes sense that DC Comics would be ahead of Marvel in this regard, especially since comic books are finally being recognized as literary art. In the mid-1980s, some 20 years after the Marvel boom ushered in a second age of comics, the artistry of the medium was still a matter of debate. When Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons did watchmen, it was a limited series that deconstructed the silliest aspects of comics while advancing the medium into new layers of storytelling. Arguably, the story wouldn’t have had the impact it did if the adult comic book fans who purchased these books hadn’t spent the last decade or two reading these stories. In 2022, pop culture has seen roughly two decades of superhero dominance on the big screen and on television. Like comic book readers in 1986, fans are ready for shows like harley quinn and She-Hulk.
However, the decision to set harley quinn in its own cartoonish universe is what sets it apart from Shulkie’s show. It allows for leaps of logic, like how the world’s most notorious villains are wanted fugitives but also able to host a TV awards show (from the theater where Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed, no less) . This season, James Gunn has starred as a director making films about the murder of the Waynes, and characters on the show have joked about how often real-world audiences have seen Thomas and Martha Wayne bite him onscreen. .
Still, the best thing about harley quinn it’s that the heroes are, for the most part, just as ridiculous as the villains. Aquaman talks about his villains while being clapped by the dolphins. Superman is a certified hot model. Nightwing is a comically twisted and tortured soul growing up in The Dark Knight’s shadow. Even Batman has unleashed a zombie apocalypse in Gotham while dealing with relationship issues this season. As funny as it is She-Hulk: Lawyer could never pull from these premises, if only because Kevin Feige and the MCU braintrust would never let them.
In a sense, She-Hulk is the most difficult comedy to achieve. It should be funny while doing nothing that affects the larger continuity of the MCU. Tatiana Maslany’s Jen Walters has to work as a comedic lead but also fit into the regular MCU world. It’s a tough balancing act, especially for a carcass almost eight feet tall. harley quinn don’t have to worry about it. The show can do some incredibly creative and unique things, like making Swamp Thing a bun-wearing yoga brother. If the purpose of a superhero comedy is to poke fun at the tropes of superhero stories, harley quinn is simply better able to do so because it’s not bound by any continuity or cast interpretations of the characters.
As modern pop culture proves, there’s room for myriad versions of superhero and comic book stories, from campy and cutesy stories to satirical and sinister violent dramas. There’s definitely room for more than one comedy show from the major comic book publishing houses. Yet, given the storytellers’ freedom of action harley quinnit’s the show par excellence to exploit the deconstruction of comic book stories for great laughs.
While Harley Quinn Season 4 is in production, stream the first three seasons on HBO Max.