Why This Suicide Squad Trailer Could Stir Sexist Controversy


The SDCC “Suicide Squad” trailer revealed some graphic scenes between Harley Quinn and The Joker!



With the help of David Ayer, we were able to see the full version of that Suicide Squad trailer that was leaked from San Diego Comic Con. Now with a much more vivid look at the trailer, we’re able to see a few things we didn’t see before. Since this team is villain based, it’s no surprise that the film would carry a darker tone, but this may raise controversy. The few brief moments between the Joker and Harley Quinn seem to paint a picture that may not be appropriate for those with more “wholesome souls.” Take a look at the trailer below and then we’ll discuss.


The controversial “rape culture” labeled Batgirl Comic Cover

For those unfamiliar with Harley Quinn, her origins begin as a mental health professional. She became aware of the Joker while working at Arkham Asylum and was corrupted by him becoming his partner in crime. While the original story had Harley influenced willfully, other origin variations took a darker route making the Joker’s influence more forceful. This seems to be the route that “Suicide Squad” is going based off of the few clips revealed in the trailer.

This may stir up some controversy for some given that not too long ago a controversial comic book cover was pulled. The cover pictured to the right was labeled as being offensive to women and promoting “rape culture” due to the fear in Batgirl’s eyes and Joker smiling with a gun. Given the controversy that this caused, I’m wondering how audiences will respond to the potential torture of Harley Quinn by the Joker. Could this be another controversial moment in cinema or will people accept this as the corrupted origin of Harley Quinn? Let’s take a look at a few scenes that paint this picture.

Harley Quinn strapped to the table with Joker hovering above…


Joker starting to torture Harley Quinn

Some may have not noticed this but this is obviously the Joker with Harley Quinn on the table. If you look at the tattoos and purple gloves, it’s undeniable that it is him. Outside of the norm of “damsel in distress” that we find in Hollywood, many could perceive Harley’s fear and Joker’s actions the same way as that controversial Batgirl comic. While the scene may explicitly state its intentions in the film, how audiences perceive it will be another story.

The end scenes confirm Joker is torturing Harley Quinn…


“I’m not gonna kill ya”

The identity of who the Joker was torturing was questioned numerous times by others. While many made their assumptions, the answer was in this trailer all along. The same lighting, the same gloves, and the same tattoos all connect Harley Quinn as the victim. But what we see is not a corrupted Harley Quinn in makeup, but a frightened doctor instead. I believe that it is during this scene that Margot Robbie officially becomes Harley Quinn and it’s not through G-rated means. The Joker’s form of “electroshock therapy” could be what corrupts her and makes her a villain. Combine her new-found psychological confusion with a little Stockholm Syndrome and you’ve got a dark but dynamic origin for Harley Quinn.


“I’m just gonna hurt ya…really…really bad.”

Could Harley Quinn be a product of Joker’s torture?


The Final Product?

I’d say that it is very likely that Harley Quinn is the outcome of the Joker’s torturous methods. Whether he tortures her through electroshock is still unknown. It is eluded to, but it is still uncertain since we don’t see Joker do the act. What could be a viable and logical reason for Harley’s affection towards the Joker is Stockholm Syndrome. In certain traumatic events, captives begin to sympathize with their captors. They begin to feel positive feelings towards them and even start to identify with them. As intense as the Joker is, I’m sure that there is some answer within these scenes and psychological theories to explain how Joker and Harley became Bonnie and Clyde.

Will these scenes stir controversy?

If the speculation behind these scenes lead to the truth, then I’m sure we can expect to see some controversy arise from “Suicide Squad.” If something as simple as a misinterpreted comic book cover can start a movement then I’m sure the potentially dark scenes from the film could do the same. While I understand some may be potentially offended, I hope that their voices do not dictate the content of the film. Film’s are meant to invoke emotion and that runs along the entire emotional spectrum. If Harley Quinn is a product of the Joker’s madness then what better way to give a female character the spotlight. Many characters start as victims and grow to be incredibly strong due to their ability to endure those hardships. Hopefully David Ayer presented this scene tastefully in the film and hopefully the masses don’t take things out of context.

Tell us what you think? Could the masses misinterpret this scene like the Batgirl comic book?


Author: Ryan

Ryan has been fascinated with film and pop culture since childhood. Throughout college he "played it safe" taking the more lucrative route of being a computer programmer while squeezing in film related courses where he could...but even during his post college career, he could never escape his true passion. After following one of his favorite blogs for a long time, he approached the site's Editor about writing and they reluctantly gave him a shot. He later became their Senior Writer which led to a variety of other projects, radio show appearances, features, and high profile celebrity interviews. Despite his success with blogging, he still wanted more so in order to expand his creative addiction, he merged his IT skills and blogging know-how to create FilmFad.com which has continued to grow into a creative Mecca of pop-culture fun and integrity.[email protected]   Film Fad

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  • Evelyn Lohse

    Sorry but every sentence of your article prooves how you completely missed the point with the Joker-Batgirl cover. No matter what is gonna happen in this movie, you already have made your opinion, so no point in entering any discussion you are asking for.

    • filmfadRyan

      Care to elaborate? I did not state my opinion, I entertained both sides of the argument.

      • Rollercoasterchild

        This article missed a key point of the Batgirl cover. In The Killing Joke (1988) it is heavily implied that Barbara Gordon was sexually assaulted by the Joker while he possessed a gun. Given the history, fans felt uncomfortable with the cover for this reason (in fact the Joker’s clothing and appearance on the cover matches his ensemble in TKJ ). Had this background knowledge been included in the article perhaps a deeper connection could have been made. The trailer’s explanation is sound, but missing the cover’s full history takes away from the article.

        • filmfadRyan

          I’m familiar with The Killing Joke and the reference the comic book was making but the subject of this article pertained to the trailer not the comic book.

          You are correct about the implications of the comic but I didn’t want to dive too deep into that and rehash an old conversation. The purpose was to touch lightly on that controversy and use it as a stepping stone towards the possibilities of audiences responses to the Suicide Squad film.

  • komikbook kaylin

    I thought the article was beautifully written! If you appreciate the
    dark nature of many DC Comics and the whole concept of Suicide Squad,
    there is no reason to get worked up over connecting imagery. Everything
    is what you make it, and these complex characters were all born in
    different ways. You don’t become a villain without being touched by evil
    or darkness, including Harley Quinn. Based on the trailer, she is
    pretty bad-ass and definitely going to get a lot of spotlight. Margot
    Robbie & Jared Leto seem to really embody the same quirky insanity
    and mannerisms, as it should be. She’s a powerful female, and I think
    the millennial generation of women can truly appreciate her. Greatly
    looking forward to this movie, and definitely enjoyed your discussion of
    public perceptions.Thank you filmfadRyan! 🙂

    • filmfadRyan

      Thanks for the comment! I’m glad this article was able to create a thought-provoking discussion!

  • Marty Nozz

    I’ve never understood why so many women want to cos-play as Harley Quinn and run around with someone cos-playing as the Joker at conventions. It utterly baffles me. We have an insanely abusive relationship, and people want to dress up and display it. I figured after “Mad Love” that would have brought it to a stop, but its still around. I wonder how many people will be ticked at this movie and claim “their relationship isn’t really like that”, when their relationship, and totally like that.

    • filmfadRyan

      There have been different interpretations of Harley throughout the years but her original origin story and relationship with the Joker was rather tame.

      I definitely wouldn’t call it a “healthy” relationship haha.

      • Marty Nozz

        Her origin was fairly tame, but the reveal that he physically abuses her was there fairly early on. It just seems that the fan-dom willfully overlooks it.

        • Mortal

          Yeah, in something like Harley’s 3rd appearance in Batman The Animated Series we see Joker aggressively pushing her around and soon after Ivy trying to convince her she can do better than that abusive relationship. I wouldn’t call that tame, especially in a kids show.

          • Marty Nozz

            Just to clarify, I was referring to her origin in B:TAS as depicted being tame in that Joker got into her head and manipulated her as opposed to the torture scene that the SS trailer shows. But yes, it was evident almost from the start that he abused her, and I’m amazed that fact isn’t scrutinized more harshly.

    • harley quinn

      I cosplay as harley because I like the character (mainly from BTAS) I think she is a very loving and fun charater and I don’t over look The joker’s abusive behaviour but it has been shown he does have feeling for her and only treats her like he does because he doesn’t understand how or why he cares for her.
      I see it pretty much as a sad but cute relationship he’s to crazy to love her properly and she’s to caring to leave him all alone.

      • Marty Nozz

        He put her through a window and nearly killed her. There’s nothing cute there.

        • harley quinn

          Mad love was a good episode but I thought about something after watching it and reading it. First the joker is mentally unstable and will often let his anger get the better of him, he called harley his girlfriend and that it’s the joker if he really wanted her dead she would be dead. Batman says it’s because he wants to use her as a extra henchman but harley has both failed him and turned against him mutiply times. The joker is crazy but he has been shown not to liking to be double crossed or failure and to hold a grudge. Now lets go to a different episode “Harlequinade” where batman uses harley quinn to catch the joker before he let’s off a bomb. The joker seemed to be fine with blowing up her and the city but after she appeared and took out robin and jumped in jokers arms, he literally fights with her so they both can escape but gives up after being kicked in the face. She shoots down his plane and ever has him at gun point, she only fails at killing him because the gun was out of bullets. They look at each other for a moment before he says “baby you’re the greatest” and they hug inside a heart.
          To me it seems like they do care a great deal about each other.

          • Marty Nozz

            It all should be a giant sign saying “This is a messed up relationship which is not to be immitated!” but over and over we see people dressing up like the pair of them like its the niftiest thing ever. At least you realize that these characters and highly disfunctional. Some of the other people I’ve encountered, it seems like its quesionable.

          • harley quinn

            Well it’s a fictional couple I don’t think we should take it that seriously some people just like it. So what? They most likely wouldn’t take the same if they were real people

  • Pingback: Suicide Squad Harley | UbudNews()

  • LonnyZone

    She’s always been the product of torture. Yes some will complain, but they’re the same people who complain without a reason. This article is fine to point out that there are hard questions that these characters ask of us, but just boycotting art that represents things we don’t like is no solution. It’s the equivalent of sticking one’s head in the sand.

  • lapinchien

    want to start a controversy about this trailer ? Check how much the storyverse is inspired by Hotline Miami…

  • Saecha Rose

    I don’t find it inherently sexist to show scenes like this, when these scenes are used to explain why this woman is who she is; it’s part of her development as a character, and in a dark story such as this one it makes sense that such development would take a dark path. Some people will choose not to watch based on their desire not to see such content and that’s fine. The content may be disturbing to some viewers, but I don’t see that making it sexist.

    What’s sexist to me is when female characters exist as nothing more than props to help tell the male characters’ stories. When it’s, “we wanna show that this dude is a bad guy, so here’s a graphic scene of him raping/torturing a random woman- a woman whose character is not developed, who has no agency of her own, who doesn’t exist in the story other than as a plot device to help explain the man’s story. It’s the same thing when there’s a wife/girlfriend/sister/etc who gets kidnapped and tortured for no other
    reason than to show that the (male) hero of the story is in pain. She doesn’t matter, we don’t learn anything about who she is as a human being, she’s just a meaningless plot device who serves her purpose and is then disposed of.

  • Carl77

    I’m still waiting for someone to get “outraged” by the title Suicide Squad.

    Then again, the movie has been announced, there’s been a steady stream of news about it with nary a peep. That and Suicide Squad was also on Arrow and Smallville with nary a peep from the PC police so maybe they did their research for once and saw that it was based on a comic about a team of supervillains that goes on suicide MISSIONS.

    Still, some Tumblrite is probably going to get “triggered” by the title, have a knee-jerk reaction and if it’s a slow news day, the media is going to blow it out of proportion.

    • silverfishimperitrix

      Thank you for this. I’m a little disappointed that the “Outrage Police” haven’t been all over this.

  • dave

    Good objective article.

    My two cents on this, the PC police are ironically making it difficult for writers to actually write female characters!

    Jesus Christ that Batgirl cover is nothing! I cannot believe DC pulled that. It doesn’t promote rape at all. Its a standard cover to show the hero being taken over by or at the mercy of the villain. Look at this Superman comic https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjL5LD8u9nKAhXILQ8KHaegAYAQjBwIBA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fstatic.comicvine.com%2Fuploads%2Foriginal%2F4%2F40658%2F1684782-9_1.jpg&bvm=bv.113034660,d.ZWU&psig=AFQjCNF8N8Isjc8x9VaaYJE422l0AEmzEA&ust=1454515845892154

    Now as for the Harley bit well I’m not so keen as I think it looks like they are making Harley’s origin story more graphic for the sake of it. Also I prefer the idea of the Joker being able to twist her mind too. Still its not sexist. The Joker tortures people all the time. Look at what he does to Lex Luthor in Outsiders.

    Look at Lex’s eye. Joker’s been frying him for hours on end. https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjep4PdvNnKAhUDfRoKHQdfBn8QjBwIBA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcomiczombie.files.wordpress.com%2F2014%2F08%2F10-greatest-lex-luthor-moments-164554-a-1403187651-470-75.jpg&bvm=bv.113034660,d.ZWU&psig=AFQjCNHn0SA96gU_9-bZdNN0sX_pj4p1oA&ust=1454516006717370

    Then there is Robin who he beat to death with a crowbar. Its perfectly in keeping with the character and its not sexist either.

  • lawhamercy

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