During a set visit to Suicide Squad last summer, when arriving I didn't know quite what to expect. The movie's concept was so far outside anything any other comicbook or superhero movies were doing, after all. Having seen the trailer just a couple weeks before, though, I was definitely finding myself extremely intrigued by the clear star of that first trailer: Harley Quinn, as played by Margot Robbie.
Harley's a heck of a character; from her origins in Batman: The Animated Series to multiple takes in video games, animation, and of course, comics, she's grown in complexity while also growing in zaniness. Her gags are madcap and cartoonish at times, but then she'll reveal a depth that is painful, relatable, and real. Capturing all of that in a two hour or so film cannot be an easy task.
During the set visit, though, we had an unprecedented amount of time with the sets and characters, got to see two scenes being shot and two scenes in dailies - the rough recordings from the previous day's work, or earlier in the shooting schedule. Three of those scenes had quintessential Harley moments that made me one hundred percent certain she'll steal the show.
In an action sequence, we got to see first-hand Margot Robbie's work ethic when it comes to doing her own stunts. For nine hours of shooting, she was in a cramped elevator with one of the Eyes of the Adversary (or EAs), the goo-covered foot soldiers working for the mystical monster that is the main villain of the film. She literally ran-climbed up the wall, flipped over him and took him down from behind - and she did that on repeat. It was a great feat of acrobatics, and reminded me of Harley bouncing around, seemingly effortless all while doing some incredible movements.
In the second, during the scene we watched shot live outside in the manufactured rain, there's a tense stand-off between Deadshot and Flag. The two are arguing, and stuff has just gone from bad to worse; Harley's response to this is to poke her head directly between them and say "Lover's spat?" - and when neither of them laugh, she just shrugs and slinks away.
But the dailies we saw of the big fight sequence in the John Ostrander Federal Building was the real moment. The whole team is fighting, and we get to see them really in action. Boomerang and Katana are slicing heads of EAs clean off their bodies. Deadshot goes from his assault rifle to his wrist magnums (yes, those are real guns on his wrists), landing punch combos that end in an explosive blast, even firing one shot directly behind him no-look style. Harley is using her pistol, too, at first, but when she runs out of ammo, she switches to that signature baseball bat. She wacks an EA upside the head, knocking it to the ground. She then seems to lose it, and just keeps hitting it, over and over, just pounding on the thing. Everyone else has stopped fighting, and she's just going to town. Deadshot finally grabs her by the shoulder and says "Harley! We're done here." Without missing a beat, Harley's face goes from enraged to a giant goofy grin, she says "Okay!" sunnily, slings her bat over her shoulder, and skips away. Incidentally, when they leave, the EA she'd been beating on starts to sit up - but that's another part of the tale.
Harley going from enraged to that gorgeous grin, from violent outburst to happily making her way out amongst a pile of bodies, just said everything I needed to know about how director David Ayer and Margot Robbie handle the character. She's brilliant and manic, she's deadly and stunning, and her entire disposition can turn on a dime. It's no wonder there's already been talks of spin-offs for her, because Harley Quinn will be an absolute star come Suicide Squad's release on August 5, 2016.