Batman and Harley Quinn – 1 out of 5
I’ve been very vocal about my love of DC’s animated films. I have some minor complaints about them that usual involve plots and stories getting rushed due to limited running lengths but, overall, I think they are consistently great. However, there is always one major complaint I have with several of them and that is how they treat their female characters. Comic book properties have a long history of treating the medium as a “Boys Only Club” and that resulted in female characters being boiled down to nothing but sexual objects. Sure, a lot of them are heroes in their own right but their sexuality always seems to take precedent. Usually, this comes in the form of pointless shots of their cleavage or behinds or figuring out needless reasons for getting them into no clothing or as little as possible. I thought the misogyny in the adaptation of The Killing Joke was pretty bad but then came Batman and Harley Quinn to sink DC’s treatment of female characters to a new low. Honestly, this is the worst animated film I’ve ever seen from them.
|And with this, Gotham somehow ended up becoming more comic accurate|
than this movie.
Poison Ivy (Paget Brewster) and the Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson) have teamed up and are planning to stop humans from destroying plant life once and for all with a virus. Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Nightwing (Loren Lester) decide to seek the help of Ivy’s friend Harley Quinn (Melissa Rauch). They believe she will offer some insight on her motives and where to find her. Reluctantly, Quinn agrees but will they be enough to stop their plan and save the world?
|I'm sure their plan also involves raiding the garden centers of local home |
improvement stores and setting the flowers free.
While I hold that this film is the worst DC animated film I’ve ever watched—and I’m one of those comic nerds who thinks The Killing Joke is highly overrated so one would think that The Killing Joke would be my least favorite—but, despite this, there are some elements that I enjoyed. For example, I loved Conroy and Lester reprising their roles as Batman and Nightwing. In my opinion, Conroy is the top Batman of all the Batmans so, when I hear him in that distinctive voice, I’m all kinds of happy. Additionally, I really liked the return to the visual style and animation of the old animated series. Batman: TAS was revolutionary for children’s cartoons because it proved that these shows weren’t just bright colors to distract kids but showed they can have style and depth to them. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end for me with this one.
|There's a running gag about Nightwing's butt in the world of comics and yet objectifying |
a male seems beneath a DC animated movie.
|DC, when is this crap going to end? It's 2017.|
Women are more than just their body parts.
The worst part about this movie is, like I mentioned before, the way the female characters are treated. Harley Quinn is a great character and when she’s just reduced to being T&A like so many female characters get treated within the comic world and in DC’s animated properties, the final product feels incredibly immature and just plain insulting. It’s fine having a character that has sexual elements but this movie forces in so many needless sexual innuendos and sexual objectivity that it feels like this movie was made for prepubescent boys. Which is distracting because, at times, this movie really wants you to believe that it is a mature version of Batman: The Animated Series (even though almost any random episode of the show is far more mature than what this film farted out).
|DC animated films think this is showing respect for women.|
Speaking of fart…this movie really can’t keep a consistent tone. It really wants you to believe it is an adult version of the old animated show but it does this through a teenage boy lens as it thinks objectifying the female form means adult. Then the tone is further muddled up as the humor is basically fart jokes, Quinn making a gag about Nightwing having an erection and Batman literally shaming a character for being a closeted gay man (which was really weird to see in 2017).
|Batman gay shaming a character might have worked in--oh, who am I kidding?|
That joke should never had a time when it worked.
Toilet humor can work if it fits the tone of the feature but for a movie that tries to act like it is for grown-ups and it has a three minute scene of Harley Quinn farting in the Batmobile (I’m not making that up) really feels strange and creates a feature that feels like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Overall, the whole atmosphere and tone of this film feels like a thirteen year old boy would make and then try to act like he made something really witty and deep. Basically, this movie feels like it was made for the DC fanboys who like to comment on articles about Marvel films and say that the MCU movies are for children and they’re big boys who don’t bother with that stuff.
|The farting feels like a metaphor for DC shitting on how the legacy of|
The Animated Series.
Finally, and this seems like the most minor complaint after the uneven tone and the rampant and, frankly, very outdated misogyny, I wasn’t a fan of Melissa Rauch as Harley Quinn. Like any case where a character so quickly becomes defined by a single performer, there is a transition period where one must get used to a new face (or voice) coming in and taking over. Arleen Sorkin pretty much made Harley Quinn in the animated series but has been portrayed excellently by others since then. There’s an energy that is very unique to the character that is bubbly but also wicked and fun loving. Rauch simply didn’t have this element. Her delivery had no energy, no life and, too often, her voice would badly trail off at the end of a sentence. This last element made it sound like Rauch wasn’t dedicated to the role and she was just doing it for the paycheck or out of a contractual obligation. Harley being portrayed only as a thing for lustful desire is bad enough but when you combine it with a lethargic and very boring vocal deliverance, you have a recipe for disappointment.
|Don't quit your day job, Rauch. Seriously, don't because The Big Bang |
Theory seems to be treating you well.
Batman and Harley Quinn could have been a really cool addition to the pantheon of DC animated films. It would have been cool to see a new adventure set in The Animated Series universe and having Harley team up with the Bats means the potential for some levity. Instead, DC and Warner Bros. handled it with all the grace you would expect from an industry that is constantly being exposed for a bunch of woman grabbing, sexual harassing pervs. Hopefully, they bounce back from this and we get something with a little more dignity and respect for the female characters in their next feature.