In basically all of his incarnations in DC’s comic books, Charles “Chuck” Brown (commonly known as Kite Man) has been a C-tier villain soaring through Gotham City’s skies before being brought down by Batman, particularly strong unexpected gusts of wind, or in the case of Tom King’s Batman run, a powerful depression rooted in the death of his kite-loving son.
In DC Universe and HBO Max’s Harley Quinn, Kite Man’s still every bit the rube that his comics counterparts have been, and he’s largely thought of as a joke by the wider community of supervillains. But what’s consistently set this Kite Man apart and made him one of the series’ surprising bright spots is the care the show’s taken to depict him as less of a deranged, kite-obsessed loser and more of a surprisingly buff, kind, slightly dim manchild who likes to make corny dad jokes.
Put simply, Harley Quinn’s Kite Man is a textbook himbo — a built, kind, hot guy without much going for him in the way of brains — and his himbo charms damn near convinced noted misanthrope Poison Ivy to settle into a life of domestic banality, which is saying something.
Harley Quinn’s first and second seasons never missed an opportunity to introduce new villains who, in addition to murdering people, all wielded their filthy, camp-ridden senses of humour like dangerous weapons. But beneath the gimmicks, costumes, and less-than-well-thought-out plans for global (and other scales of) domination, all of Harley Quinn’s...Read more
When Kite Man first showed up in Harley Quinn’s first season, it was easy to assume he’d go on to become the exact kind of creep that made it easy for Ivy to beat the crap out of him for incessantly making passes at her, despite her making it clear she really wasn’t interested in hooking up with him. When he ends up accidentally poisoning (remember, he’s an idiot) a bunch of teenagers with a tincture of Ivy’s making at a Bar Mitzvah for Penguin’s nephew, Ivy demands that Kite Man fly her back to her apartment so she can grab a cure and race back to the party before all of the children die and become trees.
Kite Man’s instant willingness to do everything he can, despite his lack of a true superpower, is one of the first ways the show introduces the idea that he might not be an arsehole. But it’s quickly illustrated that he’s not wholly on the level when, after Ivy finds the antidote, she realises Kite Man’s gotten completely naked and crawled into her bed assuming that the whole errand was just a ruse to get him alone. In the immediate moment, Kite Man’s propositioning Ivy that way is deeply inappropriate, and she makes a point of telling him that he profoundly failed to read the room.
“Oops, I didn’t know this wasn’t a date that was going to end in sex,” is the sort of harassing bullshit that men pull all the time, but Harley Quinn is very careful to address the issue in a way that deepens both Ivy and Kite Man’s characters. Ivy lets Kite Man know that she’s not trying to bone him, and while he wholly understands, he points out that part of the reason he was confused was that they both know she could have gotten to her apartment much faster by hailing a cab rather than hitching a ride with a man who glides — not flies — with a kite. More than that, though, as Kite Man listens to Ivy, it’s clear he’s actually internalising what she’s saying about how he made her uncomfortable, and he understands that how he made her feel is more important than whatever his intentions were.
Harley Quinn never quite explicitly spells out what it is about Kite Man that ultimately convinces Ivy to begin dating him, but it often feels as if what drew her most to him was his unabashed infatuation with her that was separate from his sexual attraction. While Ivy spent the earliest days of their relationship living in fear that someone might see them together while they were out and about, Kite Man rarely missed an opportunity to express to Ivy just how in love with her he was.
Though his overtures were sometimes a bit overbearing, he always backed up his words with his actions, like never hesitating to swoop into whatever mess Ivy and Harley found themselves in, in order to make sure they were both ok. Kite Man’s consistency — which sometimes manifested itself in his being a somewhat static creature of habit — was the inverse of the kind of chaotic emotional energy that Harley brought into Ivy’s life, and spending time with the two of them pushed Ivy to deeply consider just what all she really wanted and needed out of a healthy, romantic relationship.
Because Ivy spent years sequestering herself from humanity and then watching as her best friend repeatedly let her life be ruined by an unhinged murder clown, it makes a certain amount of sense that once she felt ready to open herself up to the potential of romance, she gravitated towards Kite Man, an uncomplicated person with dreams of putting down roots in suburbia. Even when they were together, Kite Man gave Ivy the space she needed to continue her own personal growth, and while that was a good thing, it’s also what led to the dissolution of their relationship. His single-minded focus on marrying Ivy was one of the most depressing (but fully realistic) elements of Harley Quinn’s second season because it was quite obvious from the jump that by the season finale, Harley and Ivy were going to come to the conclusion that they were meant for each other.
The two of them likely would have figured this out eventually if given enough time, but Kite Man’s presence in Ivy’s life definitely sped the process up considerably because of how resolute he was about his intentions to make Ivy his wife. Were this any other character, Kite Man’s obsession with getting married would likely have come across as weird and somewhat demented, but the character’s utter lack of guile ends up making it kind of sweet because the man’s really just jazzed to marry the love of his life.
Though there are more than a few warning signs — like Harley and Ivy drunkenly hooking up — that should have alerted Kite Man to the peril his relationship was in, he either couldn’t or chose not to see them right up until the day of his wedding, which Harley crashed in order to save them all from the Gotham PD. It isn’t until their wedding venue is on fire and cops and villains are waging war against one another that Kite Man finally realises and accepts that as much as he loves Ivy and as much as she genuinely cares about him, they’re simply not right for each other. Clear as that was to the audience, that level of emotional intelligence and clarity was a rarity for Kite Man, and it spoke to the idea that he, too, grew as a result of spending time with and learning from Ivy.
When Kite Man tells Ivy they need to break up, he very purposefully expresses that they both deserve better, the kind of happiness they could never really provide one another. His statement lacked any sort of vindictiveness despite the fact that he was obviously devastated, and while that’s a basic sign of maturity that no adult man deserves praise for, it is rather unique for Gotham, a city in which people get traumatised once and then commit their lives to doing themed crimes.
If Harley Quinn were to be renewed for a third season, it could potentially use Ivy and Kite Man’s breakup as the jumping-off point for an arc in which he becomes a more formidable villain driven by jealousy. Though, to be honest, that would be the sort of boring, lazy depiction of a scorned man seeking to hurt a woman he believes wronged him that comic books and shows based on them already have more than enough of, and Harley Quinn is definitely a different breed of comic book show.
Harley Quinn’s Kite Man might be a hot simpleton, but he isn’t an idiot or an arsehole. He’s just a man in search of his next “hell yeah,” and his best bet at finding it’s to just keep on being his basic self.