I have long given Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment’s home video releases the benefit of the doubt when it comes to questionable narrative choices, their ability to handle mature subject matter in a responsible way, and their seeming reluctance to grow up. The studio took heat for their misogynistic treatment of Barbara Gordon in Batman: The Killing Joke, and more generally, their juvenile reliance on low-brow humor that butts up against over-sexualized characters and situations. Batman and Harley Quinn may not be the worst offender in any specific category, but it does its damnedest to check every wrong box possible.
I honestly don’t know if DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation consciously chose to go against the grain by ignoring contemporary shifts in how society views women (and successes that paid attention to it, i.e. Wonder Woman), but their ignorance of trends is glaringly obvious. As a longtime fan of DC Comics, the movies they inspire, and an obsessive consumer of their animated fare, I’m exhausted and disappointed by seeing the same mistakes and/or willful offenses pop up over and over again. Is it that the studio doesn’t care as long as the dollars keep rolling in? Is it that no one on either the production side or the consumer side has made enough of a stink about it? Whatever the root cause, they’ll now have to earn back my attention after burning through decades of good will, the latest offender of which is Batman and Harley Quinn.
That’s not to say this film won’t find its fans. Folks who prefer Batman and Nightwing doling out one-liners and cringe-worthy responses instead of fighting crime and putting away bad guys will like this movie. (I feel so, so sorry for both Kevin Conroy and the returning Robin/Dick Grayson/Nightwing Loren Lester, who do the best they can with what they’re given.) People who view Harley Quinn as nothing more than jerk-off material and/or an over-the-top Jewish stereotype will love this mess. (I don’t know if I can blame Melissa Rauch for any of this, but it was not a great introduction for her take on Harley.) And if it’s fart jokes, scantily clad cartoon women “Superbabes”, overly sexual jokes, and half-baked plots that you’re into, you should run, not walk, to buy this movie on Blu-ray, which is available now.