Tonight’s episode of The Flash saw the team facing their first big challenge with Barry behind bars, but in doing so may have just taken a shot at Harley Quinn.
Spoilers for tonight’s episode of The Flash, “The Elongated Knight Rises”, below.
While Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) adjusts to his new normal inside Iron Heights, Team Flash found themselves facing Axel Walker/Trickster Jr. again — the character first appeared during the Season One episode “Tricksters” alongside his father James Jesse/Trickster (Mark Hamill) — but this time he wasn’t alone. Walker had a sidekick, his mother Zoey Clark/Prank. While for many, the introduction of Prank into the Arrowverse was just another fine example of the legacy casting The CW does on both Supergirl and The Flash, there were a few things about Prank’s appearance that beg the question: did The Flash just take a shot at Harley Quinn?
As we mentioned previously, there are some who feel like Prank is something of a proto-Harley Quinn. Prank pre-dates the infamous DC Comics character by at least a year and the two share some noteworthy similarities. They both wear harlequin-style costumes and are both obsessed with deranged criminal clown-like figures. Tonight’s episode dropped a few more details into Prank’s story that seem to directly reference Harley, too. For starters, Prank uses tainted pudding to break Axel out of jail. In comics, Harley refers to the Joker as “Puddin.” Once out of jail and hiding out in the last remaining property of Clarx Toys, Prank tells her son that his father is a deadbeat who doesn’t care about either of them. In comics the Joker has repeatedly been shown to not really care about Harley despite her enduring love for him. In fact, Joker cares so little for Harley that it’s even referenced that Harley gave her child with the villain away because it simply wouldn’t have been a good situation for the child — and it’s worth noting that Axel doesn’t have much of a relationship with his father.
And the references don’t stop there. Prank is shown to be mentally unwell. She goes from being a put-together woman mostly concerned about getting her son out of jail and away from any pursuits involving his father to being giddy and downright homicidal herself, stepping back into her sidekick role. She tells Axel she stopped taking her medication. One of the hallmarks of Harley Queen is that she, too is mentally unstable. The similarities are just too much to flatly dismiss, and there is good reason that the Arrowverse might want to take a friendly shot at Harley Quinn.
During the second season finale of Arrow, Diggle and Lyla Michaels took over A.R.G.U.S., freeing Task Force X to work for them to stop Amanda Waller’s attack on Starling City. As a part of letting them out of their cells, there is a reference to a “Deranged Squad Female”. Arrow star Stephen Amell later confirmed that the character was, in fact, Harley Quinn, but the character was never revisited. Why? The most likely reason is that Arrow no longer had permission to use the character. Much like with Deathstroke, the Harley Quinn character is in use in other DC Universe projects. At the time, Harley Quinn was set to appear in Suicide Squad, removing her from availability for the Arrowverse.
There’s something to be said for all the nods to Harley Quinn, but in the end Prank is a character in her own right — she originated on the ’90s Flash television series and was even portrayed by her original actress, Corinne Bohrer — and it was fun to see her back in action.