When I first saw the trailer for The Legend of Tarzan open, I was immediately impressed by the movie’s epic sweep of landscape. But that wasn’t what most impressed me. What most impressed me was Jane Porter, now Clayton, Lady Greystoke.
Watch the trailer:
There she stands: blonde, defiant, and unyielding in front of the villain. And she delivers that line that let me know this Tarzan was the one I’d been waiting to see. This was the Tarzan I’d grown up with, the one whose adventures I’d been thrilled with as a kid.
Jane looks at the villain (Christoph Waltz) and says, “A normal man can do the impossible to save the woman he loves. My husband is no normal man.”
Man, even typing those words now gives me goose bumps. I was expecting a good adventure film, but The Legend of Tarzan delivers so much more, and one of those things is a great love story.
I didn’t know who Margot Robbie was at the time. One of my sons clued me in, going on to say she’d been cast as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, one of the other summer movies I was looking forward to. I hadn’t seen the trailer for that one yet.
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Robbie stole my heart in The Legend of Tarzan. She is exactly the woman I’d hoped she’d be after seeing that trailer. She’s brave, resourceful, and doesn’t take crap from anybody. She’s just as at home in the jungle as Tarzan is. She isn’t some damsel waiting to be rescued. She fights for herself and her friends and her home.
To think that she was also going to play the psychotic Harley Quinn just beggared belief. I didn’t see how that was going to work.
Yet, when Suicide Squad opens in Belle Reeve prison and moves into Harley’s story, Robbie is there with immediate impact. Where Jane is a passionate creature and independent, Harley is also passionate, but the tone is rampant carnality. That facade can be achieved through cosmetic endeavors, though, and not rely so much on the actor/actress.
But Robbie sells the insane siren personality. She becomes the epitome of every “bad” girl a guy’s mother could have warned him about. She’s the girl a guy could go out on a date with, have a great time, and end up buried in some backwoods swamp. In a half-dozen different spots!
Harley has got weapons, superhuman strength, and gymnastic ability that Jane Clayton never had.
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But Harley is a broken thing on the inside. Incredibly, even though she kills or wounds bad guys and possessed people by the boatload with her guns and giant mallet, she remains very much a damsel in distress.
And she’s waiting to be rescued by the Joker!
Watching Robbie pull off Harley Quinn was amazing. Sure, the psychotic part was probably easy to pull off. Everybody loves to act a little cray-cray now and again. But to immediately shift to that vulnerability when she realizes rescue isn’t coming after all—on the heels of celebrating her success and a fall that would have killed a normal person—that takes some real acting.
In The Legend of Tarzan, Robbie stole my heart. But in Suicide Squad, she broke it. The scene where Deadshot (Will Smith) picks her up and comforts her for a moment, like a dad picking up a daughter who’s skinned her knee, is just so touching. It’s hard to believe it took place in the grisly remains of a city with bodies draped everywhere.
Like I said, I didn’t know anything about Margot Robbie going into this summer, but I’m a fan now. Can’t wait to see what she does next.
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