Harley Quinn’s Showrunners on Why It’s Like The Wire With Supervillains

DC Universe’s very adult Harley Quinn animated series is almost here and we’re so ready for it. But Harleen isn’t the only DC Comics character set to get wild. Are you ready to see what the Legion of Doom’s breakroom is like?

io9 had a chance to sit down with the showrunners/executive producers of Harley Quinn—Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker—and talk about what we can expect from this new take on the character who is more popular than ever.


Considering the two previously worked on iZombie and the short-lived Powerless together, and are big DC Comics fans, we we asked what it was like getting to play around in this universe, pushing the limits, and how you could lovingly refer to Harley Quinn as “The Wire for superheroes.”


You can catch our video interview above and transcript below. And stay tuned for more of our talk with Halpern and Schumacker.

io9: You actually spoke about how many characters in here, from the sense I’ve gotten, there are a lot. Did you have free rein to pick and choose which DC Universe characters you wanted to use, were there any “no’s” that you brought to the table?

Justin Halpern: Yeah, I mean, they, DC was pretty awesome, they were just like look, this is your universe to play in, it’s animated, so it’s not gonna infringe upon anything we’re doing in live-action. From the start of the show, I have to give them so much credit, they were like, “just make the show funny, and we’ll worry about, on a case by case basis, we’ll worry about if things are pushing the line, and we’ll tell you.” And so, they were great about it. I’ve never had more free rein on any show we’ve done, it was liberating.

io9: Any favorite characters that you got to write?

Halpern: I would say Kite Man and Bane, aside from Harley and Ivy, who are our two favorite characters.


io9: I’m a lifelong DC fan, and I assume you both are as well. What’s it like just getting to play in this playground, you know, with all of these iconic characters?

Patrick Schumacker: I mean, it’s nuts. We met with Bruce Timm, before we started working on the show, just to kind of pitch him on our vision, try and get him on board, and then yeah, once we kind of got his blessing, we were off to the races. But I mean, yeah it’s surreal.


io9: So this isn’t the first time you guys have done comedy in the DC sphere, can you talk a little bit about how Powerless worked out, and how maybe that informed your work on this series, or didn’t?


Halpern: Yeah, absolutely, I mean I think it was definitely two very different styles of show. And the things that we learned from Powerless that we really were really the mundane aspects of the superhero world that can be mined for comedy. I think it’s just inherently funnier when superheroes and supervillians are also just, you’re seeing their day to day life. Cause that was always part of our original pitch for [Harley Quinn], was like yes, we’re going to have battles in it, but the day to day of the show, is like “What is the Legion of Doom office look like, and is there a problem in the break room because somebody doesn’t refill the Keurig?” We wanna give the audience the sort of, behind the scenes of being a supervillian, and what the nitty-gritty looks like, you know?

It’s like I remember David Simon saying about The Wire is he’s like, “I want The Wire to show cops doing paperwork, because that’s an important part about being a cop.” We wanna show what it’s like when these supervillians just do their everyday routines.


Schumacker: The show is The Wire for superheroes, no. [laughs]

io9: Quote. [laughs]

Harley Quinn debuts on DC Universe November 29.


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Over 12 years in digital media. On-camera person, ex-radio DJ (94.3 The Point), my past work includes The Mary Sue, THR, IGN, HitFix, & more. Author: Womanthology, Chicks Dig Comics, IncrediBuilds.



“Hello… Mr., uh, Turner. I see you’re applying for the job of office assistant here at the Legion?”

“Yes, Mr. Luthor.”

“How was the drive out? Did you have any trouble finding the place?”

“A little. I got lost in the swamp, but a helpful… swamp monster pointed me in the right direction.”

“Ugh… that would be Swamp Thing. I hate him. I had to pay five million dollars to have sewage pipes laid from here to Metropolis because he kept complaining about our dumping the gray water into his swamp. Threatened to take action at the next HOA meeting if I didn’t. Not even I dare to cross the HOA. Anyway, I’ll need to ask you a few questions.”

“Go right ahead, sir.”

“Do you have any issues with occasionally being devolved into an ape?”

“No, Sir.”

“Any fear of clowns?”

“No, Sir.”


“Just Superman.”

“Nice brownnosing. I like it.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Being accidentally teleported to the fire pits of an evil world where you’ll work as a slave for New Satan?”


“Being constantly abused and insulted by all of your superiors for any reason?”

“No, sir.”

“Fetching coffee for people who will probably try to kill you, incinerate you, or melt you with acid for arbitrary reasons?”

“No, sir.”

“Any problems being completely disposable and prone to be thrown under the bus or to the police to ensure our escape and survival?”

“No, Sir.”

“Why the hell not?”

“I used to work in an Amazon warehouse. I’m used to it, Sir.

“You start on Monday.”