The Joker and Harley Quinn probably have the most diabolical relationship in comic books. It’s abuse above all, although both express love for each other constantly. However, more recently, Harley got out of the abusive relationship and went her own way, but they never really went at it against each other. The question is, who would win – Joker or Harley Quinn?
If we’re talking about pure hand-to-hand combat, it would be Harley’s best chance to win. She’s at peak physical strength and is a great fighter, combining her gymnastic skills with martial arts. However, if they get to plan and use all their powers and abilities, Joker easily wins.
He simply has too much up his sleeve. And, even though Harley eventually ran away from him, she would never kill Joker because she really loves him. The same might not be true for Joker, though. He would kill her in a heartbeat if he could gain something from it – he only truly cares about Batman. That being said, let’s compare Harley’s and Joker’s abilities to see who’d win.
Joker And His Powers
The Joker, known as the Red Hood, the Clown Prince of Crime, or Puddin’ (as Harley Quinn called him), is a DC Comics supervillain first appearing in the Batman #1 comic in 1940. He’s an insane criminal mastermind residing in Gotham City, being one of Batman’s prime enemies.
Although he’s technically just a human, many things make him so unordinary and, in some way, superhuman. So, what can he do that makes him so dangerous?
There are dozens of versions of the Joker’s background and origin, but they all have similarities. He was a criminal known as the Red Hood, and he fell into a tank of chemicals in a chemical plant, turning his skin white, his hair green, and his lips vivid red, along with his recognizable grin.
He was a worker at the plant, so he was, in fact, a chemical expert. Over the years, the Joker performed numerous experiments on his body, making his blood toxic. The experiments and years of substance abuse also made him immune to most poisons, as suggested in Batman #663. In the same comic, a mosquito bites him – and dies.
Finally, his expertise in chemistry gives him the ability to create incredibly effective weapons, gas bombs, etc.
There’s a thin line between being a genius and being a mad man. The Joker is definitely both; a criminal mastermind that has a profound skillset in escapology. Given time to plan and resources to execute, give the guy a pencil, and he’ll make it work.
He’s also known as one of the greatest manipulators ever. He manipulated Harley to join him and set him free from Arkham Asylum, where she worked as Harleen Quinzel, his psychologist. He had also manipulated and drugged Superman in one version of the Universe, making him unknowingly kill Lois Lane and become a mad dictator.
His chemistry knowledge is one thing, but what separates him from other genius characters (like his arch-nemesis, Bruce Wayne) is his insanity. He completely lacks morals or ethics, has no fear whatsoever, and is completely psychopathic.
Even in his relationship with Harley Quinn, he had shown countless times that it’s all just a game for him. Although he appears – and probably thinks – he has real emotions for her, the truth is, the only person he really cares about is Batman.
Weapons and props
Most of the Joker’s killings come from his unique, comedic, weaponized props like joy buzzers, sharpened playing cards, etc. It’s not rare to see him use his chemistry skills to power up his weapons, using cyanide, acid, poison gases, etc.
His martial arts skills are moderate, but he makes up for it with his props, weapons, and intelligence.
Lack of pain
One particular ability that makes the Joker even more not-human is his lack of pain. He either doesn’t feel pain at all, or his insanity allows him to ignore it simply, but he takes punishment while laughing his tail off.
Once, he cut his face off, slapped it onto a wall, and then put it back on like it’s nothing. If he can feel pain, then his tolerance levels are out of this world.
Harley Quinn And Her Powers
Harley Quinn is a relatively new character in DC Comics, first appearing in 1992 in Batman: The Animated Series. Her first comic appearance came a year later in The Batman Adventures #12, but her first proper introduction came in Batman: Harley Quinn #1 in 1999.
She was just a regular Gotham City resident named Harleen Quinzel. Harleen was a skilled gymnast and a psychologist in Arkham Asylum, where she treated Joker. Soon, she fell under his influence and helped him escape, creating her alter-ego, Harley Quinn.
She became extremely attached to Joker and became his girl despite the constant abuse. She had gone mad as well and became a supervillain, separating from the Joker and creating her path – and abilities.
Physical and psychological excellence
Harley Quinn has an incredible IQ. Her knowledge in psychology and overall intelligence allows her to stay one step ahead at all times. Even though she loses her sanity because of Joker’s manipulative schemes, her brilliance stays intact, although diabolical.
But, apart from her smarts, Harley is also in peak physical condition, and adds some. Before becoming her new self, Harleen was a highly skilled gymnast, which Harley Quinn uses in combat quite effectively. Her agility and fantastic reflexes allow her to dominate in hand-to-hand combat.
It goes beyond that. In Harley Quinn vol. 1 #30 in 1999, Harley gets injected with a serum from Poison Ivy that gives her extreme strength, reflexes, agility, and, most importantly, durability. She can take a lot more damage than a regular human.
When I say chemical immunity, I’m talking about Harley’s immunity to toxins, poisons, etc. – similar to Joker’s. She also ended up in a chemical tank, making her skin so white. The trip to the tank, paired with the Joker, gave her some of his trademark abilities, including immunity and, quite possibly, toxic blood.
Weapons and props
Harley always has awesome weapons, but she usually uses a giant mallet as her weapon of choice. She’s highly skilled with firearms, too, or just crazy enough to wield them even if she never used them before. Sometimes, she even has two hyenas that she uses for attacking her enemies and much more.
Joker Vs. Harley Quinn: Who Would Win?
With everything being said, who would eventually win a fight between the Joker and Harley Quinn?
If we’re talking about hand-to-hand combat, Harley has the biggest chance to win over the Joker that way. She has peak physical condition, enhanced power, agility, and reflexes, and she can take a punch like no other. However, that’s about the only thing that’s going in her favor.
In any other scenario, I would take the Joker over Harley Quinn in a fight. Firstly, he is just too brilliant of a manipulator and criminal mastermind; he would simply outsmart Harley given any prep time. His weapons and props also give him a nice edge, but I believe that Harley would eventually beat herself.
She just cares about the Joker too much, even though she left him. She would never have the strength to kill him. Also, he had shown his ability to coerce her more than once, and he would probably manage to do it again. Only, he wouldn’t hesitate if he had to kill her like she probably would.
Overall, his manipulative skills, brilliant tactics, weapons, and chemical expertise would be too much for Harley Quinn, who literally loves him too much to seriously hurt him – even though she is probably stronger in hand-to-hand combat.
Are The Joker And Harley Quinn In Love?
Given that their entire relationship relies on manipulation and abuse, can we even say that the Joker and Harley Quinn were in love?
Well, I think yes. At least in their version of love. The Joker is a psychopath and a sociopath, meaning he is virtually incapable of real human emotions. He might’ve felt somewhat close to Harley or even believed he really loved her at one point, but he never stopped abusing and manipulating her, causing her to eventually leave him.
He did express his love for her several times, but he also said he sees love as a weakness, so he wanted to get rid of her.
On the other hand, Harley Quinn loved him more than anything else in the world. She would die for him. Although it was all a manipulation, and she wasn’t in her right mind, Harley loved her Puddin’ the best she could or knew how.