(Seemed appropriate for #HarleyQuinnDay…Big thanks to Prince Adam for sharing his Bat-thoughts with us. 🙂 xoxo)
“Batman and Nightwing are forced to team with the Joker’s sometimes-girlfriend Harley Quinn to stop a global threat brought about by Poison Ivy and Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man.” (Warner Brothers)
This movie had me the minute it was set in the style of Batman: The Animated Series, featuring the voices of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Loren Lester as Nightwing, The new addition to the Bat-Family, comes in the form of Melissa Rauch, of The Big Bang Theory fame, as Harley Quinn. To be honest, it was her casting that worried me. I though her name recognition from TBBT and the signature voice of her character, would take me out of the movie and be a hindrance to the character. However, Melissa was fantastic and except for one time when she screamed at someone in the film, did I recognize it was her and get pulled out of the film, otherwise the actress totally disappeared and all I saw and heard was Harley Quinn. Hearing Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester again, felt so right and sounded like the pitch perfect dynamic duo. It’s like they have been doing this for 25 years straight, with no time lapses in between. Giving a voice to Poison Ivy for this film was Paget Brewster. She was okay, but I don’t think she was distinctly Ivy enough. That’s not necessarily her fault though because, she only had one scene where she employs Ivy’s trademark seductive, hypnotic sexiness to get a man to do her bidding. Poison Ivy’s partner in crime n this feature is Jason Woodrue aka the Floronic Man. The inclusion of this villain fits, given Ivy’s involvement and I really like his inclusion, not because I’m a huge fan of the character but because, he’s never really used. Come to think of it, even amongst Batman’s heavy hitters, Poison Ivy was underused. Even when she featured in episodes of Batman: TAS. The Floronic Man is voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. This actor voiced The Joker for four seasons on The Batman but never once did I hear The Joker in this performance, which speaks to his range and versatility. Though, his voice is tailor made for portraying a villain.
As for why Harley Quinn would help Batman and Nightwing, it’s because she’s trying to live her life on the straight and narrow. Especially, since she has separated from The Joker. However, due to her criminal past, no reputable organization would hire someone with a criminal past and record, as a psychiatrist. Though, she makes a point at hinting that late nigh risqué movie producers have shown interest. Instead, Harley take a job at a bar called Superbabes. The waitresses all dress up in skimpy superhero costumes and are often ogled and groped by male patrons. One night Harley is grabbed in the ass, flips the customer over a table and starts a bar fight before heading home. This whole time, Nightwing was tailing her, following her back to a rundown, abandoned apartment. Naturally, there is a scuffle and Harley Quinn not only holds her own against Nightwing but knocks him out. When he comes to, Nightwing realizes that he’s tied up. Harley, changing out of her costume is in her bra and panties. She begins being flirtatious with Nightwing, saying they both have something the other wants. Nightwing protests, in a half assed way, before admitting the idea of being with Harley does sound appealing, The lights go out, the costumes come off and the scene cuts away as the implied sex scene happens off screen. Some reactions online, have people up in arms, throwing a hissy fit over this scene. Firstly, some are calling the moment a glorified rape scene, given that he was tied up and at first refused Harley’s suggestion. If you actually rewatch the scene, you can see that it’s quite clear that Nightwing is more than agreeable to having sexual relations with Harley. Once Nightwing agrees, I view the ropes as some kinky, superhero/supervillain role-play type of scenario. Prior to that scene, when both characters were physically fighting, Harley Quinn was verbalizing that she was tired of people telling her what to be and assigning a label to her. For example, some see her as crazy, others see her only as a villain, while others still, view her as a sex object. She mentions, how she wants to be in control and determine who she is. While some see the sex scene as demeaning, only further objectifying Harley, I saw her initiating the flirtation, and being in control of that situation. I saw it as a moment of empowerment for Harley Quinn. That’s my take on the whole “controversy.”
As for why Nightwing was following Harley and not Batman? The Dark Knight was busy doing detective work, uncovering Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man’s diabolical scheme. Firstly, I love that this film focuses on Batman being a detective. To me, Batman: TAS and issues of Detective Comics, are the only two interpretations, that really key in on this aspect of his character. Speaking of our villains’ plan, it involve using samples of Alec Holland’s (Swamp Thing’s) blood, mixed with a chemical agent, that when dispersed, would turn the human population into plant like creatures, such as Floronic Man and Swamp Thing. I like that the evil plot is perfectly symbiotic with the overall goals and beliefs of our villains, unlike that time when Poison Ivy teamed up with Mr. Freeze in 1997, and their plans were in complete opposition and counterintuitive of each other. Back over at Team Batman, when the Caped Crusader rejoins Harley and Nightwing, he catches them in a compromising position. While he doesn’t say it outright, you can tell he is judgemental of what they did. Nightwing responds with; “Oh right, like you’ve never made out with a villain before.” I loved this line because, it’s a clever callback to Batman’s trysts with Catwoman and Talia al Ghul respectively. It also calls out Batman’s hypocrisy in this moment, but also speaks to the closeness and rapport between Batman and Nightwing, that Dick Grayson can speak to Bruce this way. With Harley assisting Batman and Nightwing, you knew humor would be a key feature of this film and it is. As the three drive in the Batmobile to find Ivy’s location, Harley complains that a burrito she ate earlier isn’t agreeing with her and they should pull over. Batman refuses and Harley retorts; you asked for it, before beginning to fire off some farts. Batman & Nightwing’s facial reactions are hilarious. Yes, I know getting laughs from farts is a bit cheap and childish, but in addition to her sexiness, Harley Quinn has always had a childishness about her, so it works. There’s also a scene where Batman calls the Justice League for potential backup. However, all the heavy hitters are off world, so Booster Gold starts naming a bunch of C and D list superheroes that could help out. As Booster Gold’s voice rattles off names through the intercom of the Batmobile, Harley Quinn and Nightwing shake their head no and make faces in disapproval, before ruffling papers to make it sound like their was static, before hanging up on Booster Gold. This was priceless and had me in stiches. Harley Quinn’s influence is clearly rubbing off on Nightwing. Harley takes Batman and Nightwing to a bar for supervillain henchmen, where she meets an informant, who has info on Poison Ivy’s location. To get info out of an informant, Harley has to sing karaoke. That’s not the fun part though, as Melissa Rauch unfortunately is a terrible singer. However, the henchmen featured at this bar, are ones featured in the Batman 66 TV series, specifically noticeable are Catwoman’s henchmen. They even buy Batman a glass of milk, as a nod to his drink of choice on the Adam West series.
When the unlikely trio finds Poison Ivy and Floronic Man, Harley Quinn pretends to double cross Batman and Nightwing, to gain their trust, However, when she pleads with Ivy to not go through with releasing this pathogen, Ivy realizes Harley lied to her. Even Batman tries to appeal to Poison Ivy’s humanity, pointing out that if she makes even one mistake with the formula, all of humanity will be wiped out. When she still doesn’t budge, Harley Quinn removes her mask and makeup, gives Ivy a “puppy dog” look and begins to cry, lamenting that she doesn’t want to die. Ivy can’t resist Harley crying and agrees not to release the toxin on humanity. She too now turns on the Floronic Man. While some may say Poison Ivy’s turn was too easy, I liked it! It really emphasises the close knit relationship and love that Harley and Ivy share. This is both emphasized in the comic books and animated series. There are a few things, that I didn’t like about this film. Aside from the fight scene between Harley Quinn and Nightwing, which was awesome, the action in this film is extremely limited. And when it is their, the film cuts away from it, When you see the henchman bar fight, you’ll know what I mean. Swamp Thing has a cameo in the third act, condemns Ivy & the Floronic Man for what they’ve done, but refuses to get in the fight. He doesn’t get involved because “It’s not his “fight.” What!? How is it not his fight? They tampered with his blood and what they plan to do, is going to alter The Green, the nature that Swamp Thing is sworn to protect. How is that not his fight? It made no sense. What a wasted cameo. Also, I was let down by the final battle with The Floronic Man and it stems (pun intended), from the reasons I just mentioned.
This film has key voice cast from Batman: The Animated Series, the animation style evokes later seasons of Batman: The Animated Series, which was rebranded The New Batman Adventures but one thing that is different is the tone. Sure, there is some dramatic story telling of the classic animated series, but this is more of a comedy set in that world. So prepare yourself for that but you know what, for me, it really works. I have never laughed so much while watching a DC Animated show, or movie. If you want a good laugh and 75 minutes of fun with characters you love, give this film a buy and a watch. Happy Batman/Harley Quinn Takeover Day everyone!