So it's been a little over a month since we last checked in with Harley Quinn series co-creator and executive producer Patrick Schumacker to see how things we going with production on the third season of (now) HBO Max's Kaley Cuoco-voiced animated series. That was when we learned that voice recording was underway, with Diedrich Bader (Batman), Jim Rash (Riddler), and Christopher Meloni (Commissioner Gordon) recording, and Ron Funches (King Shark) recording the following week. Well, we're not sure if it's just been a busy month and everyone was caught up in that other Harley Quinn over in The Suicide Squad trailer, but we almost missed this fascinating tease. Last week, Schumacker tweeted that he got to voice direct a "very special guest" who viewers will have a very tough time predicting- and that he's withholding the voice's identity so viewers '#DontGetTooAttached too soon." Ouch.
Here's a look at Schumacker's tweet- now let the speculation begin!
During an interview in September 2020, Schumacker and series co-creator/executive producer Justin Halpern discussed what lies ahead for Harley and the gang, the move to WarnerMedia's streaming service and if they would bring an animated Harley to the big screen. With the first two seasons examining Harley breaking away from a literal toxic relationship and establishing her own identity, viewers were left with their pseudo-hero finally realizing that she wants to explore a real relationship with Poison Ivy. For Halpern, the idea of Harley being in a relationship that works opens up a number of narrative possibilities. "So, I think in the third season, the general idea we've been talking about… And the room hasn't even started yet. These are just conversations between Dean Lorey, and myself and Patrick," Halpern explained. "[But] the idea [is], when you've mostly been in toxic and bad relationships your whole life, how do you then be in a good one? How does the baggage that you bring from all these other relationships affect the relationship you're in that you really want to work?"
That means more opportunity for viewers to learn Ivy's story: "We spent two years digging into Harley, and Ivy was her own character, but her stories were told mostly in relation to Harley. So, I think in this third season, it'd be interesting to flip that, and dig deeper into Ivy and her life, and tell some stories from her point of view. So, we're excited to be able to do that because it feels completely new—somewhere to go that we haven't gone, that isn't going to make the audience feel like, "We saw two seasons of that. What the f**k is this?"."
Schumacker also says that they're looking to give Gordon some more screen time and backstory, especially in lieu of what is currently going on in the real world right now regarding policing and law enforcement. "Yeah. You've probably seen [this]…It's made its way around Twitter, for sure, the Zoom that the LAPD and Mayor Garcetti put out for a sort of town hall, essentially, for Angelenos to come together and voice their criticisms of the LAPD and the Mayor's office," he said. "I tweeted out—and this was genuine—"I would love to open Season 3 on an actual Zoom, where the GCPD is just being berated by the city of Gotham for their ineptitude." [Laughs]
In many ways, just as Harley Quinn will be challenged to answer questions about herself that she's run away from up until now, Gordon will need to accept his past mistakes if he wants to do right by Gotham- assuming it's not too late. "It's like having Gordon deal with the reality of, policing in Gotham has completely failed, and him realizing, "What is this new system that we need to put in, in order to effectively police Gotham?" And is he even capable of it? Because the system is so f**ked up," Halpern explained. "Gotham's a terrible place to live. I mean, if you think of all of the cities in comic book lore, can you think of a worse major city to live in than Gotham? Like, it's just constantly under attack. And why does Metropolis look like this utopia, when Gotham is this total cesspool? So, being able to also dig into that, and have Gordon go on a journey within the third season, would be very fun."
As for their new home HBO Max, Schumacker said they're thrilled and that they were aware of the move for some time ("I mean, it's a conversation that's been months long. It was a matter of when, not if, for a very, very long time. We kept hearing that week in and week out…"). As for any differences that might result from the move, Schumacker doesn't see much changing. "In terms of HBO Max, in the cursory conversations that we've had with some of the executives there, who we're just kind of friends with, they're all very excited," he said. "We haven't even had our official kickoff call that you usually have before a season, with all the development and current executives. I think we'll get to hear directly from them in a professional capacity next week, but my hope is that fundamentally, the show will remain exactly as it was on DC Universe. And I don't think there's any reason that it couldn't, aside from DC Universe not really having the Broadcast Standards and Practices at all. [Laughs] It was so infrequently that we got any notes on any use of violence or language, or anything like that. It might be a little different on HBO Max, but I kind of doubt it."
As for whether or not the team would want to bring Harley Quinn's adventures to the big screen, Schumacker said that not only would they love the opportunity but it was something that was discussed if the series didn't return for a third run. "When we were waiting for a Season 3 pickup, we were kicking around ideas with the executives over at Warner Bros. Animation about that sort of thing, because we were like, "Well, we have stories to tell with these characters. We want to continue going with it, and if Season 3 can't happen, maybe we can do something in the feature space, which is sort of independent of a network picking up the show or not." So, that is something that has been on our [minds]. Right now, we're not planning on it, but it is absolutely something that we would be interested very much in doing down the road.
Joining Cuoco on the animated series are Lake Bell (Wet Hot American Summer) as Dr. Pamela Isley/ Poison Ivy, Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol) as The Joker, Ron Funches (Powerless) as Nanaue / King Shark, JB Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Frank the Plant, Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) as Sy Borgman, and Wanda Sykes (Black-ish) as Tsaritsa / Queen of Fables. Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) as Lex Luthor, Natalie Morales (Bojack Horseman), Jim Rash (Community) as Edward Nygma / Riddler, Rahul Kohli (iZombie) as Dr. Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow, Diedrich Bader (Veep) as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Tony Hale (Veep) as Dr. Edgar Cizko / Doctor Psycho, Christopher Meloni (Happy!) as Commissioner Jim Gordon, and Sanaa Lathan (Native Son) as Selina Kyle / Catwoman also star.