David Ayer Responds To Criticism Of Over-Sexualized Harley Quinn In ‘Suicide Squad’

Suicide Squad was a bigger hit than many thought it would be, earning nearly $800M at the box office. But the reviews were harsh and four years later director David Ayer is still apologizing for the many mistakes he and his co-creators made. One of those is the over-sexualization of the movie’s breakout character, Harley Quinn, which clashes so completely with her depiction in Birds of Prey.

In response to a tweet (If I were a divisive director like Ayer I would drop all social media), about Harley Quinn being objectified as eye candy, Ayer responded by blaming a messy screenplay…

“Sadly her story arc was eviscerated. It was her movie in so many ways. Look, I tried. I rendered Harley comic book accurate. Everything is political now. Everything. I just want to entertain. I will do better.”

I actually don’t blame Ayer for certain aspects of this. He is right that his depiction of Harley Quinn was comic book accurate. She is, or at least she was, a very sexualized character and combined with her lunacy it’s part of what makes her unique.

But his “I just want to entertain” is pretty weak., We can’t ignore that a look at Ayer’s track record shows he has zero ability to create believable female characters. So he has no real defense when Lauren Humphries-Brooks of the Citizen Dame podcast (co-hosted by friend to the site and occasional writer Karen Peterson) hits him hard in response…

“A female character in an abusive relationship is already political, my dude. The way your camera looked at her was political. The way you used her was political. You treated her as an object and she still rose above it. That was political too.”

Damn. Of course, Harley Quinn “rose above it” because of the tremendous performance by Margot Robbie. And it says something that the more liberated version of the character failed to attract as wide an audience. Kinda sad, actually.

Ayer took the criticism to heart, though, and retweeted Humphries-brooks comment with a few words of his own…

“Retweeting because this is very thoughtfully written. Thank you for this. I am growing and learning in a changing world.”

I’m very curious to see how James Gunn treats Harley Quinn in The Suicide Squad, which opens in August 2021. My guess is he’ll fall somewhere in-between. Harley Quinn is a sexy character, period, but the camera doesn’t need to leer over every inch of her body, which is what happened too often in Suicide Squad. Gunn probably isn’t going to let that happen.




Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.


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