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:
[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.
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.”
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.