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The Untold Truth Of The Harley Quinn Animated Series

The success of 2016's "Deadpool" proved there was indeed a market for R-rated comic book adaptations. But would a "Harley Quinn" animated series made for mature audiences be the right move for Warner Bros. and DC? Considering the impressive critical approval and audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, it appears as if all doubts were smashed to kingdom come by Harley's trademark baseball bat. The audience instantly fell in love with lead star Kaley Cuoco's interpretation of the Clown Princess of Crime, while the supporting cast created a lovable array of characters that fans couldn't get enough of. Whether it be J.B. Smoove's Frank the Plant or Ron Funches' King Shark, the show is simply dripping with talent, and they all bring out the big guns for their performances here.

While the series' smash-hit status is undisputed, it wasn't all as simple as making a cup of puddin' here. There was a point in the show's history when the showrunners had no idea whether it would be renewed, and as with any Hollywood success story, "Harley Quinn" also wasn't immune from unfounded gossip about bad blood behind the scenes. Let's take a trip down to the worst city in the world, Gotham, and find out more about the untold truth of the "Harley Quinn" animated series.

Harley Quinn was meant to have a Boston accent

Ever since Harley Quinn made her debut on "Batman: The Animated Series" and Arleen Sorkin provided the original voice for the Clown Princess of Crime, the character has become associated with a working-class Brooklyn accent. At this point, Harley's voice has become almost as instantly recognizable as her appearance, so any changes to her cadence or delivery will be noticeable to the viewer. However, there was a change made for the "Harley Quinn" animated series, though it could have been even more extreme. Kaley Cuoco explained to Entertainment Weekly how she managed to convince the showrunners to change their original plans for Harley's voice on the animated series.

"They initially wanted me to do a strong Boston accent, but I told Justin [Halpern] and Patrick [Schumacker], 'my voice is a little recognizable, and I think it's gonna be silly if we pretend it's anything other than Kaley playing this role,'" she said. "So it really just became mostly me screaming. It's a lot of me, and I've kinda turned it into my own thing." Considering the praise that Cuoco has received for her interpretation of Harley and how the fans have banded behind the show, it's safe to say this was one change that was made for the better.

Margot Robbie was never approached to voice Harley Quinn

When news broke that DC and Warner Bros. had given the go-ahead to a "Harley Quinn" animated series in 2017 (via Deadline), the expectation was they would approach Margot Robbie to reprise her role for the show. The first "Suicide Squad" film might not have had the best reviews upon its release, but there was no doubt that Robbie's performance as the loudmouthed, baseball-wielding former psychiatrist was immensely popular. Seriously, one only has to remember all of the Halloween costumes inspired by her look in 2016.

Co-showrunner Justin Halpern revealed to GWW that Robbie was never in consideration to voice the character on the show, though. "Margot was interested in what we were doing and we had a couple of conversations with her, but it was mostly because she was curious because they were concurrently doing 'Birds of Prey,'" he said. "So we met with her, we pitched out a few episodes to her and our general arc and she was very thoughtful and kind and just listened and that was kind of it." Halpern added that Robbie was primarily concerned if it was too similar to what she was doing in "Birds of Prey," and once it was made clear that they'd be tonally different from each other, there was no issue whatsoever and everyone went on their merry way.

The alleged feud between Margot Robbie and Kaley Cuoco because of Harley Quinn

The Internet loves nothing more than to instigate feuds. If there are two actors up for a role, or portraying different versions of a character, the online community demands to see bloodshed over these fictional beings. Look at how Film Twitter beefed over Battinson and Batfleck for absolutely no reason besides ratios. The "Harley Quinn" animated series experienced its own version of this, as there was a supposed conflict between Margot Robbie and Kaley Cuoco over who truly is the best Harley.

Speaking to Interview, Cuoco addressed these rumors, stating the drama all started after the show took off and "Birds of Prey" was released. However, Cuoco swears there was never any issue between them. "I've never even met her," she said. "I love her. There was an article that came out that said we would not show up together at Comic-Con. We refused to be on the same stage together. Neither of us was even at Comic-Con, okay?" It's yet another reminder to not believe everything that's posted online, and that Film Twitter is like that little child who like to spread gossip to different people about each other and watch on in sheer delight as they become mortal enemies.

Lake Bell didn't know much about Poison Ivy before the Harley Quinn animated series

Whenever a comic book adaptation is announced, the promotion in the lead-up to the show or film is fascinating. Many actors proclaim to have been lifelong fans of the characters ever since they were children or teenagers. (It's a little hard to believe when they declare this about comic book characters such as Kite Man and the Condiment King, but okay.) But Lake Bell, who voices Poison Ivy on the "Harley Quinn" animated series, decided not to pull the wool over anyone's eyes and revealed the truth about her familiarity with the character beforehand.

"They were enjoying the fact that I had little preconceived notions about the character, because it allowed for a refreshing take," the actor explained to The Daily Beast. "I just look at it as this person that I've created, this character that I've created with the extraordinary writers." Bell's comments illustrate how an actor doesn't need to be a huge fan of a character in order to nail the adaptation's requirements. As long as they do their research after getting the part and collaborate with the rest of the crew involved in making the series or film, it's more than possible to deliver a true-to-canon version of the character.

How Alan Tudyk dealt with Mark Hamill's Joker shadow

Mark Hamill might have a portion of fandom that will always see him as Luke Skywalker, but he also has others who believe he's the definitive voice of the Joker and one of the greatest to have ever portrayed him. After "Batman: The Animated Series" wrapped up, Hamill has continued to reprise the iconic part and provide the pipes for the Ace of Knaves on several occasions. As a result, no matter how good other actors are in the role, they will always be unfairly compared to Hamill.

Alan Tudyk wasn't exempt from this when he took the gig, despite the fact that he's also a recognized name. He revealed to ComicBook.com that even Tony Hale, who plays Doctor Psycho on the "Harley Quinn" animated series and previously voiced the Joker in "Batman Ninja," was blunt when describing how Tudyk would be perceived by the fanbase. However, Tudyk approached his version of the character differently, knowing he had another advantage. "So knowing I can't be Mark Hamill, I haven't listened to Mark Hamill," he said. "I have heard him, but I didn't watch it so I couldn't recreate it. [My Joker is] different in the way that he can cuss." Tudyk believed that his Mr. J having the ability to drop an F-bomb instantly allowed for him to do something else with the character that Hamill wasn't able to do. Fair enough.

The showrunners aren't interested in including Punchline

Over the years, Harley Quinn has slowly but surely broken free from the shackles of being seen purely as the Joker's girlfriend. Now she's her own character, with her own storylines and motives, and seen more as an antihero than a villain or sidekick. In the comics, Punchline was created by James Tynion IV and Jorge Jiménez as Mr. J's new partner in crime and love interest (via DC Comics), effectively taking over Harley's old role. The character has proven popular among the fans, playing a pivotal part in the DC Universe on a continuous basis since her debut.

Due to her comic book goodwill, many fans have pondered if Punchline is due to make a big splash in the "Harley Quinn" animated series, too, especially since Mr. J and Harley are no more. Well, not if the showrunners have anything to do with it. Speaking to The A.V. Club, Justin Halpern said, "We also didn't really care to do the Punchline stuff. A lot of people were like, 'Is Punchline going to be in this?' That felt like a creation in the comics that was born from whatever they were doing, and our Joker's different." Patrick Schumacker added that she may show up in a future season, since they don't want to take anything off the table; however, there isn't a desire for her from their end.

The one sexy scene that execs refused

The "Harley Quinn" animated series is unafraid of pushing boundaries. There have been certain lines and scenes that may have even made the likes of Deadpool blush. The show continues to push the limits of its R rating and deliver mature entertainment, even if the execs do try to curb the number of curse words per episode (via ComicBook.com). However, there was one scene that may have actually gone too far, and ultimately needed to be changed. It wasn't anything to do with a not-so-subtle reference or even the demise of a character. Instead, it had to do with Batman and Catwoman's bedroom — or rooftop — activities.

"We had a moment where Batman was [performing a sex act] on Catwoman," co-showrunner Justin Halpern told Variety. "And DC was like, 'You can't do that. You absolutely cannot do that.' They're like, 'Heroes don't do that.' So, we said, 'Are you saying heroes are just selfish lovers?' They were like, 'No, it's that we sell consumer toys for heroes. It's hard to sell a toy if Batman is [doing that].'" This revelation sparked a huge debate on Twitter, with many fans and creators arguing if Batman would or wouldn't partake in this act — as well as which other superheroes would be willing to take his place if he said no thanks and proved to be a prude. It was a glorious and rather humorous day on the bird app, truth be told.

The writers love Bane in the Harley Quinn animated series

When it comes to the villains on the "Harley Quinn" animated series, the writers have some serious fun and treat canon as optional. Sure, they have tried to keep the essence of each character in place, such as what their gimmick is, but they have also been given free rein to go wild and turn these supervillains into something that fits into the show's narrative and theme. Bane, in particular, has become a fan-favorite villain for everyone. While this version of the character has a voice similar to Tom Hardy's portrayal of the antagonist in "The Dark Knight Rises," he's far more mindless and obsessed with blowing things up than other incarnations of the Santa Prisca bruiser.

Co-showrunner Patrick Schumacker told Inverse that Bane is the writers' room's favorite character and everyone wishes he could be in every episode. "A 'Harley' season without Bane is not a 'Harley' season," he said. "I had my reservations when we decided to characterize him as the butt of the DCU, because in the comics he's the smartest guy in Gotham. I was like, 'Should we walk this back? Like it's a ruse, he's playing naïve?' And the writers threw tomatoes at me. He's a joy to write."

James Gunn accepted his role on the show via Twitter

On this show, there are no sacred cows. No one cares if someone supports the Snyderverse or the latest incarnation of the DCEU, as everyone is deemed open season for the writers. It turns out the people involved in the DC Universe are also fans of the "Harley Quinn" animated series and love being made a part of the storylines, in much the same way "The Simpsons" have done so for decades now.

Director James Gunn appeared on the show, and the showrunners didn't even need to work too hard to get him to agree to it, as Patrick Schumacker explained to ET Online. "James and I, we don't really know each other very well at all, but we follow each other on Twitter and I just kind of, shot in the dark, sent a DM to him one day and explained the scenario," Schumacker explained. "And, literally, within 15 minutes got a DM back, like, 'Yep, I'm in. That sounds great. Here's my rep's info.' And two weeks later, I got to voice direct him remotely." The co-showrunner met up with Gunn while he was filming the first season of "Peacemaker" and they recorded his parts, which also featured some improv from Gunn's side.

Grant Morrison's book inspired the Harley Quinn animated series

While it's clear that the "Harley Quinn" animated series draws inspiration from Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's well-received comic book run — both in terms of aesthetic and feel — there's also another surprising influence that no one could have seen coming. Showrunners Patrick Schumacker and Justin Halpern experienced the a-ha moment for their own production when they read comic book writer Grant Morrison's "Supergods" book, which offers an in-depth look at the superhero comics genre.

Schumacker explained to The A.V. Club that "Harley Quinn" being told from Harley's perspective, hence all the bright and lively colors, was inspired by a passage from Morrison's book where the writer, who uses they/them pronouns, explained their approach to a previous series. "In it, [Morrison] talks about how, when [they were] doing 'Gotham Knights,' [they] didn't want to do the classic gothic, gritty, grayscale look. So I thought, if we're telling the story through Harley's point of view, that will inform the look of the show."

The nixed Power Girl cameo

Much has been written about comic book costumes for female characters and how they've historically been garbed in a plethora of unrealistic attires that mostly serve to sexualize them. Power Girl, in particular, received an outfit that left nothing to the imagination and probably made crime fighting about as comfortable as sitting in a sweltering sauna with a bunch of hungry piranhas. Fittingly, given that one of the core themes of the "Harley Quinn" animated series is the value of female empowerment, there were initial plans to include Power Girl in an episode as a commentary on superhero costume designs.

Co-showrunner Justin Halpern revealed to The Cinema Spot how Power Girl was set to feature before ultimately being cut from the final episode. "Well, we had broken an entire episode about how superhero costumes aren't pragmatic, and we were going to use Power Girl and have her weigh in and help Harley figure out her new look," he said, "but then we decided we just wanted Harley to have decided what her new look was going to be by the end of the pilot, so we scratched it."

The showrunners pitched a Harley Quinn animated feature before Season 3's renewal

The DC Universe streaming service was an innovative platform that aimed to create a home for all things DC. It was meant to be the one-stop shop for fans where they could read comics and watch television shows and films. WarnerMedia also pumped some serious cash into the platform, allowing for the creation of new and exclusive series such as "Titans," "Doom Patrol," and "Harley Quinn." Unfortunately, the platform didn't have a long lifespan, with DC Universe rather quickly being phased out and folded into HBO Max (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Naturally, this sudden shift and change in direction created uncertainty about the future of shows that originated on DC Universe. Also, since corporate executives are about as communicative as an empty shoebox on a tin roof, no one knew what to expect — the "Harley Quinn" showrunners included. Speaking to Deadline, Patrick Schumacker revealed they pitched an idea to Warner Bros. Animation to do a "Harley Quinn" animated film if the show wasn't to be renewed for Season 3. He also mentioned how it was designed to work whether or not the series renewal happened. Considering how the "Harley Quinn" animated series has branched out into comics as well, it might only be a matter of time until this version of the character gets her own feature film, too.