It feels good to be back!
What better movie to jump right back into the fray of opinionated think pieces than that of a DC property that had the nation divided on whether or not they actually enjoyed seeing it.
Oh well………Here goes!
So what do I write or say about Suicide Squad that hasn’t already been said ad nauseum about it and the surrounding DCEUniverse?
Why have I waited two weeks to post something about it when by now everyone has made up their minds to have seen it or wait?
Why do I keep writing these ridiculous questions and taking up space while trying to dance around my actual thoughts about this movie?
Ok….Here it goes (for real this time)!
First, I need to say that I really enjoyed Suicide Squad. I have seen it twice which did help me to better realize some of its flaws (and successes) as a standalone film as well as being a part of the greater DC universe. Sure, it had problems, most films do, but I also believed it did a solid job of showing us other different and strange characters that occupy the DC world. To put it more simply:
Full Disclosure: I am one of those guys that does believe in the conspiracy theory that critics have made up their mind about a DC film before it even premieres and then proceeds to use their platform to eviscerate said film in an effort to gain readership/views/likes/clicks/etc. by attempting at being the most creative in bashing the movie. So if that turns you off of this article, so be it, go read those guys…
Despite my enjoyment of Suicide Squad, let me proceed to lay out the things I did not like first in an effort to get them out of the way so that I can actually talk about the things I believe this film did well. What sticks out most to me with this movie is the writing and editing. They were the main two pillars that failed this film. Maybe it was partly due to director, David Ayer, thinking that he could both write and direct a movie of this magnitude and in actuality become spread too thinly across both demands, maybe it was the trappings of an overreaction by Warner Bros. after a backlash with Batman vs. Superman despite making a huge profit or it could be that it just tried too hard and came up short within a summer of mediocrity, which could be argued exposed its flaws that much more. In any case, I want to believe it was these specific things that caused the understandable frustrations from fans and critics alike.
When I refer to the writing as a hinderance, I am not attacking the quality of the words come to life, but rather I am disappointed in the lack of those words being spoken by the two main members of the Suicide Squad; Deadshot and Harley Quinn. I realize that both Will Smith and Margot Robbie are your true star powers and will ultimately be your box office draw, however, there were countless times that their lines could’ve been shared by other members of the team in an effort to resemble just that….a team. Granted, this is my perspective of the film, but I couldn’t help but feel that some of Deadshots quips and reactions could have been given to Capt. Boomerang, Diablo or Killer Kroc to showcase them more. Diablo got some decent lines to chew on that better explained his mentality and approach to the group, but it didn’t come until towards the end of the movie and it might’ve benefitted him earlier in the movie rather than later.
The main moment that exposed this theory was the bar scene before the big battle. It is a quiet moment in which the group decides whether or not to continue the fight despite having little stake in it. Deadshot provides perspective on the situation with Harley filling out the crazier side of things and even Diablo gets the aforementioned moment of backstory that explains his decision to be a pacifist, but it is the others that just seem a by-product of forgetting to give them their proper screentime that is so noticeable in a scene where that is not meant to be the focus. Captain Boomerang is the largest victim of this. Jai Courtney is an excellent actor and it is very apparent that he had an immense amount of fun playing this character however his scenes of dialogue are far and few between to the point of which when he does get to speak it’s almost cartoonish. I was left wishing that he got the same time to speak as the others. I also had the same feelings towards Killer Kroc who seemed to have this mysterious self-assuredness despite his appearance that I wanted to know more about.
The sloppiness of editing was also too big an issue to ignore. David Ayer has gone on record as saying that the cut of the film we have seen in theaters is his intended cut unlike Zack Snyder’s original 4 hour paired down to 3 hour paired down to 2 hour and 30 minute cut of Batman vs. Superman. With that in mind, one can’t help but wonder what could have been had someone else been the final say.
From the very beginning of the film, the scene selections are questionable. The film begins at Belle Reve, the maximum security facility, showcasing a day-in-the-life of an inmate there. The backstories of Deadshot and Harley Quinn begin here only for the audience to then be transported to the introduction of Amanda Waller and her explanation of Task Force X (the Suicide Squad) to a bunch of government officials in hopes of getting it greenlit. I bring this up because from the very beginning it’s noticeable that this pacing is off. It would have better suited the film to begin with Amanda Waller’s voiceover explanation of the world post-Superman and the “arms race” to stockpile as many superheroes for their side as possible and then proceed to Belle Reve after her introduction of the characters. It stumbles right out of the gate, but eventually recovers its footing only to then go full speed into the Enchantress and her brother’s revenge plot on all of humankind.
This is where most critics have said that they have issue with the film. The majority of them have stated that the beginning is fine but then after 20 minutes into the film it just becomes a mess and the plot is murky but eventually makes up for it once the team is off and running towards danger. I, however, didn’t see this as an issue. Sure, the characters of Enchantress and her brother are a stretch and their thin plan to destroy the world is nothing new, but the only thing that I thought was jarring about this portion of the film was that they chose to dive into it very early in the actual movie. By doing that, it asked the audience to trust in it almost too soon before a proper foundation of its characters and world was established.
Many people were also complaining about the decision to leave out many scenes featuring the Joker. I found myself on the opposite side of this argument also because after the decision to feature Deadshot and Harley Quinn more prominently than the rest of the team was made to do so with the Joker as well would just leave me wondering why they would have had a Suicide Squad at all and not just a “Deadshot, Harley and Puddin‘” movie instead. For that reason, I’m happy they didn’t and to be quite honest, I thought the scenes he was featured in worked great with the overall film. They were placed at the right moments and kept the craziness of Harley’s character slightly grounded in the remembrance that she was once a sane doctor before encountering the Joker. However, I can’t lie and say that I wouldn’t be interested in seeing a different cut with more of his scenes in it just to see how different it would make the overall film.
Also, to step up onto an even higher soapbox for a moment:
Jared Leto’s Joker was an excellent portrayal! I know people will want to compare him to Heath Ledger but I will just say this…. just because it’s a different approach does not mean it’s not good.
If you’ve read this far, I will spare you my musings about what Suicide Squad got right in 1,000 more words and instead just make plain and simple bullet points for you (with a little explanation afterwards).
Right director in David Ayer with the right vision
Solid casting choices
Excellent expansion for the DCEU
There are other successes I believe this film had made but to spare you more reading I will just focus on my overall feeling after leaving the theater both times.
Suicide Squad was an enjoyable summer movie. It’s that simple. People want to waste breath and try to compare all of DC’s properties to the tone of The Dark Knight trilogy, but I believe in doing that they are missing the overall stance DC is trying to take with Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman and now Suicide Squad which is; you are watching a comic book come to life. That’s it. Nothing more. At the end of the day, that is exactly what I want to see. Think about it, Suicide Squad’s plotline follows that of a bizarre DC comic; you have the overall world in which it takes place with Superman, Batman and the craziness of the Joker all being influences of what we are seeing, you have an even crazier idea in that of assembling dangerous villains to carry out a dangerous mission, an even more bizarre villain(s) that feels ripped straight from the comic pages all culminating in an ending that leaves you excited for what is to come.
That is the exact description of the feeling I get after finishing a comic or graphic novel.
I appreciate what Christopher Nolan’s series did for Batman in having him exist in reality and become a more grounded and human figure, but there is something to be said about the excitement I get from watching DC’s recent jump into the deep end with their array of superheroes. It is just pure fun! I accept that the plot will be so-so at times, Marvel gets this and has adapted to better disguise this, I accept that at times the heroes will make decisions that I normally wouldn’t agree upon, and yet the more time I spend in this universe the more I actually want just that…….MORE!
I fully believe that DC is attempting to set up a slower and more realized comic book-turned-movie universe and that to truly appreciate the bigger picture they are painting we will have to wait until the vision is fully realized, which as we know will take years. It’s a different approach than that of Marvel’s which is; just wait, THIS movie sets up something greater down the road.
I feel DC is simply saying; here’s a small portion of a larger world and we will start to show you that world piece by piece. They’re taking a lot of flack about this because we are a culture that wants things immediately and to be patient is to be forgotten.
In a summer where mediocrity reigned supreme, it was easy to peg this as the “shiniest turd of the bunch” in a group of films that were very underwhelming despite high expectations. I went in expecting little and actually had a fun time and if you expected anything more from it then I almost feel bad for you because you missed the point of why this film existed in the first place. Some films are meant to just be enjoyed and not overanalyzed. This was one of those films.
Suicide Squad: 4 Garys