Not only does Harley Quinn have superpowers that allow her to fight Batman, she got them from another villain’s special super-soldier serum
Harley Quinn is one of the most popular Batman villains in recent memory, but not even her vast fanbase knows about the real source of her superpowers: the DC Universe’s equivalent of Captain America’s own super-soldier serum. The non-pacifist psychiatrist started as a violent and vulgar partner to the Joker but eventually stepped out of his shadow to become her own character. Batman: Harley Quinn depicts the origin of her powers and exactly how she traveled from Batman: The Animated Series to the mainline world of DC Comics.
Harleen Quinzel was the creation of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini specifically for the animated series; the writers wanted a character to whom Joker could exposit information and desired someone more visually interesting than the typical gangster-bodyguard. Harley was a massive hit with fans and her character was subsequently expanded in the acclaimed episode Mad Love, in which the Joker manipulated her into releasing him from Arkham Asylum. In 1999, it was decided by DC editorial to finally bring Harley Quinn into the comics through Batman: Harley Quinn – and give her some superpowers along the way.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
In the comic Batman: Harley Quinn, itself a tie-in to the DC Comics event Batman: No Man’s Land (in which a devastating earthquake hits Gotham and the United States government refuses to aid the city), Poison Ivy finds Harley in the wreckage of a destroyed building. After Harley tells her story (a consolidated version of Mad Love, her reunion with the Joker, and the Joker subsequently abandoning her when he no longer finds her useful), Ivy crafts Harley a chemical concoction, partly for her own protection. “I’m not called Poison Ivy for nothing. Anyone who spends a lot of time around me will pick up something nasty if they’re not properly immunized.” The drink also grants Harley superhuman strength and speed, much to her surprise.
Thus, Harley is granted her signature and rarely-mentioned superpower: an immunity to most toxins. This includes all of Ivy’s poisons and Joker venom – the Joker’s favored method of execution. Ivy’s serum also grants Harley the ability to go toe-to-toe with Batman and the Joker (even at the same time). She has none of Batman’s technique or training, but she’s certainly stronger than the average henchperson. Over the years, she would usually use her newfound strength to escape Batman more often than actually fight him, but she still remains a difficult opponent to track and takedown.
With Harley Quinn prominently featuring in two DCEU ventures (three with the upcoming, The Suicide Squad), the character’s popularity isn’t waning anytime soon, though she has yet to demonstrate her superpowers in either film. It’s a shame that her superpowers are so often underutilized that many fans forget she has them at all. While Batman has trained his body and mind to the absolute limit and the Joker is a crazed lunatic who abused her for years, it’s Harley Quinn who is actually physically stronger than either of them.
The Flash Season 7 Trailer Shows Barry Meeting His Son Impulse