“Batman: The Animated Series” is one of the seminal animated creations of the nineties and is still considered a quintessential depiction of Batman. It’s a masterpiece of animation and meticulous storytelling. The voice work by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker are so definitive, that some fans can’t possibly imagine either character on screen without either actor portraying them. Here we are in 2017 with Bruce Timm reviving his animated version of “Batman” and what do we get? A very long gag involving Harley Quinn farting in the Batmobile as Batman sniffs it in with pleasure, all the while Nightwing retches in the side seat. This is the bar of “quality” we get with “Batman and Harley Quinn.”
Bruce Timm basically just took the popular episode “Harlequinade” where Batman has to team up with Harley Quinn, and spins it off in to a movie that’s way too long, even for seventy minutes. Even worse, he seems determined to take away the mystique of these characters once and for all. In “The Killing Joke,” Barbara Gordon is just a horny fan girl with daddy issues, and here Dick Grayson is just a horny teenager who can be led around by a woman after one good roll in the sack. Even worse is that the writing team seem to be nothing but horny fan boys anxiously trying to pair characters up and ruin just about everyone. Gee, like, what if Harley Quinn raped Nightwing, and he liked it? Because, you know, he’s a guy. Who wouldn’t sleep with Harley Quinn? That would be so epic!
Harley Quinn is reduced to a shrill sex object, Poison Ivy is someone who once placed her mania for plants over human life and is now a sidekick to a domineering alpha male presence known as The Floronic Man. The stakes are nil, the tension is lacking, the animation sucks, the voice acting stinks (Paget Brewster and Conroy sound half asleep most of the time), and even worse: everyone is out of character. Batman spends his time playing doting grandpa to Harley, smiling at every turn, and Nightwing is often inept and kind of a moron. Timm and director Sam Liu even seem to hold some kind of disdain for the target audience, as there’s a prominent meta-gag where Harley Quinn is now living a straight life inexplicably dressed in her modern popular costume.
She is now a waitress working in a restaurant in the vein of “Hooters” where customers get to ogle the waitresses, all of whom are dressed as busty DC heroes and villains. Of course the male customers are all perverts and one grabby patron gets his arm broken by Harley. There’s no point to this set up, because there isn’t a point to anything that goes on in “Batman and Harley Quinn.” When all is said and done, the reasoning for integrating Harley Quinn is contrived and insulting. Things just happen, characters run around doing nothing, and there isn’t even a resolution! The movie literally stops just as Batman and co. are about to confront the main villain, all for the sake of a ridiculous mid-credits scene that is either supposed to be funny or some kind of alternate universe scenario.
“Batman and Harley Quinn” is obviously nothing but a contract obligation, one run by Bruce Timm who once injected complex tones of humanity and personality in to these characters. He and Sam Liu reduces them to rape, sex jokes, fart gags, and wish fulfillment for a certain niche of fan boys that get off on this kind of garbage.
If you value your time, avoid it as much as humanly possible.
Featured in the Deluxe Edition is a collectible figurine of Harley Quinn in her classic costume. The set features the digital copy and DVD for fans. The features include “A Sneak Peak at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie” in which DC threatens us with botching another classic Batman story “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight.” There’s “The Harley Effect,” a twenty one minute look at the character’s history, and interviews with her creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. There’s the eleven minute “Loren Lester: In His Own Voice,” and “vintage” previews of “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” Parts 1 and 2. Finally there are two classic episodes from the DC Comics Vault, which you’re better off watching instead of the movie. There’s the “Batman: The Animated Series” episodes “Harley and Ivy” and “Harley’s Holiday.” Suspiciously (and conveniently), the episode “Harlequinade” is nowhere to be found.