Given her prominence in trailers-and number of cosplayers dressing like her at San Diego Comic-Con last month, it is clear that Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is the breakout star of Suicide Squad, which opened this weekend to an August record $135 million.
However, fans of the character who have not seen her new look may be wondering what happened to the jester-clad Quinn created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for Batman: The Animated Series in 1992.
Enter the first couple of comics, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, who took on the challenge of totally revamping the character's appearance as part of DC's "New 52" line-wide relaunch back in 2011.
"Amanda wanted to make her costume reflect what she was doing in her life," Palmiotti told philly.com/ in an exclusive interview. "She added the padding, the shoulder pads and a new design to make it her own. This new suit was her way of saying welcome to a new Harley and it seemed to work out pretty well. This is a character that changes her costume daily, so it was just the natural thing to do. We both felt it was time for something new."
Changes included Harley's outfit being much more revealing than her iconic jester attire.
"It's actually less revealing than other versions of the character," said Palmiotti.
"For Amanda, it was about what she was doing at the time. For our first issue, we had her in a roller derby."
Harley's hair color also changed to half-red and half-black, matching the color scheme of her jester outfit, but Palmiotti says that was just a coincidence.
"(It had) nothing to do with the cap at all," he said. "The jester cap was for the animated run and we both felt it didn't make sense."
Palmiotti and Conner also changed the normal hued Harley into a character with bleached skin, a result of being kicked into a vat of acid by her lover . . . the Joker.
"Yes, that is why it is white," he said. "It's covered in the film as well."
So how did Palmiotti and Conner land the gig of revamping Harley Quinn?
"We were asked by the big guy in charge, (DC Comics Co-Publisher) Dan DiDio to give him our takes on the character," Palmiotti said. "As with most of the books we do, we reboot and restart the character so we can get a new audience interested. In Harley's case, we moved her away from Gotham, gave her a new place to live with new supporting characters and a couple of jobs to boot. We took her away from her past for a new beginning.
"DC and the fans loved what we did and we have been going strong for three years now," he continued. "Amanda is the cover artist and designer, but the interiors are mostly done by Chad Hardin and John Timms."
The book has been a big seller.
"With great sales comes a freedom to push the envelope and take risks and we do that each and every issue," Palmiotti said. "Never in a million years did we think it would inspire a landslide of licensing and attention and now an on-screen appearance of the character. DC has been so great about including us in all of this and sharing with us the success and we both understand it all comes down to the right team at the right time and a different take that is aimed for a mass audience."
Palmiotti felt it was important to change some big things about the character-especially her often abusive relationship with the Joker.
"In order for Harley Quinn to be her own character, we needed to get her away from what everyone else had already covered and get her to a place where she is the center of attention and the main focus," he said. "The Joker is part of her past and comes up now and again, but he is not needed to make the book work on any level because she is a super strong character as is. We wanted to show all the different sides of Harley and not just the bad guy.
"Our version of Harley is many things-bad guy, antihero and most of all, defender of the helpless," he stated. "She is smart, spicy and has a ton of empathy when it's convenient to her. She feels for animals, for those who are innocent-but can also be dangerous with a flip of a switch."
Palmiotti said the book has continuing threads and some multi-part stories, but "We are always aware that there are always new readers picking up the book for the first time-so it's important to us to make sure it's a story they can understand and not get frustrated and lost reading.
"In 'Rebirth: Harley Quinn' No. 1 just out, we retell her origin, then get right into the story. So, again, a new reader can feel like they're not alienated-and old readers can just enjoy the ride!"
'Rebirth: Harley Quinn' had a pre-order of over over 400,000 copies.