So over lunch a while ago my mom and I were discussing the moral responsibilities authors and creators have, and the Harley Quinn/Joker relationship came up, and she brought up a good point.
Apparently in the comics, a major part of Harley’s backstory was the abusive relationship she had with the Joker. So when Suicide Squad came out, and the relationship was never called abusive, a lot of people freaked. Many accused the writers of the movie as glorifying the abusive relationship.
When I brought this up to my mom, she asked me an interesting question: “Should the writers have just completely glossed over the relationship?”
My answer was no.
First of all, the relationship as is opened an entire discussion on abusive relationships. Now, fans of the movie are participating in an educative, important conversation on a major issue.
Second, the relationship is portrayed realistically (or as realistically as a it can be in this type of movie). Abusers aren’t always horrible to their partners, and sometimes actually love them. The fact that the Joker came for Harley does not in anyway make the relationship less abusive, and if handle correctly the movie makers can make this a huge point (that is if the DCEU survives for much longer).
Finally, this leaves great room for character development for Harley (again, if there is any follow-up movies). In order for a character to have an arc about realizing and recovering from an abusive relationship, she must be in an abusive relationship.
Image from https://teaser-trailer.com/suicide-squad-movie-the-joker-and-harley-quinn/