Former Batgirl and current Orphan Casandra Cain is widely regarded as the best martial artist in the DC Universe. Despite this, there is one character who has been confirmed as capable of defeating Orphan in a fight.
Cassandra admitted to being humbled in Birds of Prey #1 by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, and Jordie Bellaire. While discussing a potential fifth recruit for the new Birds of Prey, Orphan suggested Harley Quinn. She made this recommendation based on an encounter with the anti-hero the year before, which ended in a definite win for Harley.
Why Harley Quinn can defeat Cassandra Cain
The young Orphan was trained from birth to be the perfect assassin. She also developed the ability to read the body language of others well enough to predict their actions in a fight. Harley Quinn, while a formidable gymnast with enhanced agility, does not have nearly as much combat training. On paper, there is no logical reason why Harley Quinn should be able to beat Cassandra Cain.
“Logical”, in this case, is the key word. While Cassandra Cain’s ability to read others is impressive and borders on precognition, it is dependent on logical analysis. Harley Quinn, by contrast, favors spontaneity and does not have anything close to a practiced fighting style.
This gives Orphan considerable trouble when trying to fight Harley Quinn. When their fight goes through a kitchen, she doesn’t expect Harley to use a fish as a weapon instead of a frying pan. Cassandra also fails to anticipate that Harley would bull-rush her through a window, rather than escape out an open door.
Ironically, it is this chaotic approach to crime-fighting that earns Harley Quinn a place among the new Birds of Prey. When Black Canary says they need “an x-factor… a surprise,” Cassandra Cain nominates Harley for the fifth spot. “You want the unexpected? That’s Harley Quinn,” is her honest and accurate assessment of one of the few who can fight her and win.