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What’s up with Harley Quinn’s beaver?

Surprisingly, he’s from the comics

Image: MARGOT ROBBIE grins on a background of purple and blue smoke as Harley Quinn in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN). Image: Warner Bros.
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Birds of Prey is technically a spinoff of Suicide Squad, and so it’s more of a reintroduction to Harley Quinn than an introduction. Audiences are already aware of the bones of her character: the two-tone hair, the manic manner, the tattoos, and her status as Joker’s longtime girlfriend.

But you could be forgiven for not knowing anything about Bernie.

By Bernie, I mean Harley Quinn’s taxidermied beaver. This guy:

An image of Harley Quinn’s taxidermied beaver, Bernie, from promotional art for Birds of Prey.
Hello, Bernie.
Image: Warner Bros.

[Ed. note: This post contains mild spoilers for Birds of Prey.]

In Birds of Prey, Harley has a taxidermied beaver, and she talks to it as if it could talk back. Cassandra Cain also takes quite a shine to the rodent, and the furry object is among the survivors when Harley’s place gets blown to smithereens.

The movie doesn’t offer more explanation than that, so you could not be blamed for wondering if you’d missed something. Bernie isn’t just a non sequitur: He’s a character from the comics.

Specifically, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s 2014 Harley Quinn comic. Bernie debuted in Harley Quinn #1, drawn by Chad Hardin, as one of the “treasures” she’d picked up from her storage space before moving to Coney Island. And she didn’t just talk to him: He talked back.

Harley Quinn sits at a crosswalk on her Harley Davidson chopper, listening to her taxidermied beaver, Bernie, complain about the ride, in Harley Quinn #1, DC Comics (2014). Image: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chad Hardin/DC Comics

Conner and Palmiotti waited more than a year to give readers Bernie’s full origin story, as drawn by Stephane Roux. Harley named Bernie after her first crush, a troubled boy named Bernie Bash. The human Bernie threw Harley’s bully in front of a truck — “the most romantic gesture I ever saw,” according to Harley — and got sent away to juvenile detention “fer, like, ever.”

A young Harley Quinn (dressed as a doctor) points our her bully to a young Bernie Bash (dressed as ‘Halloween’ villain Michael Meyers) as the person at the party she’d most like to kill. He says his choice is the same, because “She bothered you,” in Harley Quinn #0, DC Comics (2014).
Bernie: Hey, if you could kill one person in this room, who would it be?
Image: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Stephane Roux/DC Comics

Wanting something to remember him by, Harley broke into the hunting trophy room of his parents’ home and absconded with a taxidermied beaver which she, naturally, named Bernie.

And that’s the whole story of Bernie, the breakout character find of Birds of Prey. Now you can tell all your friends that you know everything there is to know about Harley Quinn’s beaver.

I suggest you do — it’s what she would want.

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