Prince Carlo Estrella

“You can do anything you want… you’re Joker.”

On Wednesday, April 3, Lady Gaga and Todd Philips (director of the film) dropped the first movie poster for their highly anticipated film, Joker: Folie a Deux. Along with this, a TikTok audio from the Joker Film account also showcased a tease of Gaga’s Harley Quinn vocals with a carousel of photos accompanying the hype further. Consequently, as these teaser materials were dropped, a mixture of praise and dismay manifested.

Gaga’s Little Monsters were riveted. However, some Detective Comics (DC) fans were appalled. Why? Apart from the fact that this film is said to be a ‘musical’ (as revealed by industry insiders), it is also because Lady Gaga does not resemble Harley Quinn they used to see (which was formerly embodied by Margot Robbie). Most of the users that were dismayed constantly reference and pit Robie’s characterization of Quinn against Gaga’s so-far looks in embodying Harley Quinn.

So, with those comments about the released poster, one question may arise: is this really a big of an issue? The film indeed had a great production. Its current movie poster’s lighting and mood capture the feeling of performing on a ‘stage,’ while also being captured and stuck in an asylum, in the darkness or in the state of madness, or even a prison (as other users interpret and view the poster)—which is the initial and reported synopsis of the film so far. So, what is the problem with it? 

Well, the conflict lies in the society’s collective notion of depicting Robbie’s Harley Quinn. To reiterate, Robbie is not the problem. But rather, it roots back to the male-dominated production of the film Suicide Squad (2016), which curated and marketed this kind of hypersexualized spectacle and version of Harley Quinn to the general public. Because if we look back at the history of Harley Quinn in comics and animated shows: she is not too vulnerable, and prone to the objectifying male gaze; it is only during the peak of Suicide Squad’s release that the hypersexualization of Harley Quinn started to blossom that catapulted this version of Harley Quinn as the current standard, the modern canon.

So now, going back to Gaga’s version of Quinn and to the present, Gaga’s characterization of Quinn is doing a great job so far (at least by judging the looks through the posted pictures and leaked behind-the-scenes videos online). A great job in a way that Gaga’s version of Harley Quinn, in this Joker installment, empowers the realistic representation of women in our society, and not only appreciated as a mere object, or a ravishing spectacle for men. Also, the promotional team behind the teaser pictures is doing an amazing job in showing Gaga’s gallery as Harley Quinn because so far, it is truly interesting.

It is interesting because the series of pictures that we have of Gaga as Harley Quinn showcases how Dr. Harleen Quinzel transitioned from being a simple woman in New York City that then progressed into her admiration, infatuation, and finally, being madly in love with Joker. Her look, in comparison to Robbie, might be stripped down but it is realistic and such a fresh reinvention, or redesign, of the classic jester-in-red-and-white Harley Quinn in DC Comics. But until the teaser is released, no solid verdict could be made about the film.

So now… maybe let’s meet each other again on the 5th anniversary of the Joker (2019) film’s release, or in other words, a new Joker film (Folie à Deux)’s showing? Because this article is just the beginning; the critique for the entirety of this film is yet to be written. The only thing we can do now is wait until we truly, and finally witness if Lady Gaga will put the haters about her on “gag” again, but this time… as Harley Quinn.