Marvel does it better

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Against all my better judgement I went and saw Suicide Squad over the weekend. It’s not that I hated it, I didn’t really. I didn’t love it though, and I knew that this was most likely going to be the case despite the high hopes I had for it. I really wanted to love it, but when one of my friends asked me (knowing my extensive knowledge and love for comic books) to predict how I was going to come out of the theater feeling, I responded: I want to like it so much and have high hopes, but pretty sure it’s going to be like every other DC film. I’m going to come out of it not hating it necessarily, but will more than likely be disappointed at the narrative and missed opportunities for rich character development.

So, here’s your obligatory warning. I’m about to go into details from the movie, so if you are looking to avoid any spoilers for Suicide Squad, you should stop reading now.

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Overall Impression: It wasn’t completely awful and for the most part, the movie was enjoyable for what it is. A friend of mine sitting next to me told me there were several moments I let out an audible disappointed sigh, and he’s not wrong. While it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve seen, there were definitely moments that didn’t live up to what I was expecting.

Deadshot and Harley Quinn definitely stole the show for this one and their characters were definitely the most intriguing and did the most justice as far as representing their comic book counterparts.

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Deadshot, one of the most notable anti-heroes of the DC Universe. An assassin with a troubling family past, but also motivated to take action whether for the heroes or villains to do good by his children. This was portrayed well in the movie by showcasing the relationship with him and his daughter. Will Smith did not disappoint in his portrayal of the surefire yet often conflicted assassin. Deadshot surfaced as one of the leaders of the group and motivated other team members to contribute to get the job done, while still remaining morally grey throughout the movie. One of the highlights is when he goads a reluctant El Diable who fears losing control to help fight the fight and light things up with the squad.

Deadshot: Whatcha gonna do?
El Diablo: You wanna see something? YOU WANNA SEE SOMETHING!?
Deadshot: YEAH!
(After El Diablo goes berserk and gets lit fam)
Deadshot: Yo…I was trying to get you there. No hard feelings, right? We good?

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The breakaway performance definitely has to go to Margot Robbie though as Harley Quinn. She definitely stole the show in my opinion. The focus of the movie was on her and showcased her relationship with the Joker. Her backstory and presence seemed to be the focus out of all the squad members. The movie seemed to take a lot of inspiration from The New 52 version of Harley as she was shown to be exposed to the same checmicals Joker was exposed to in the film as part of her backstory. Her leaving the squad for Joker and later rejoining when the plan fell through was also remiscent of a New 52 plot. I thoroughly enjoyed Margot Robbie’s performance of Harley and she had a lot of great moments. Her motives and loyalty walked a fine line with zany madness throughout the film, but one thing was certain: underestimating her was most certainly a mistake. The only moment I might have groaned (here comes some whine) was when she played a critical role in saving the day as she blurts out, Stop hurting my fwiends! (and there’s the cheese).

It will be interesting to see what happens with the character as it was revealed in her bio that she was an accomplice and either helped or was the one to kill Jason Todd. This revelation might help to explain why she reacted so strongly when she sternly states, “Own that shit” to El Diablo’s reveal about killing his kids. It may be her reaction to her own killing of an adolescent Jason Todd. Another possibility for this reaction could be that she was responsible for the death of her own kids. Whaaaaat!? BOOM! BLAM! KAZAM!

For those of you that missed it, the movie hinted that Harley might have been pregnant with Joker’s kids at some point and this could be a gamechanger that could be incredibly intriguing or a plot twist that ends up being a miserable disaster.

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So, when it comes to Deadshot and Harley Quinn, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Unfortunately for me, it just goes downhill from there with the rest of the characters.

Amanda Waller: Overall, the movie did a good job illustrating how cut throat and ruthless this character really is, but I wanted the movie to reveal and explore her deeper connection with metahumans and the major players of the DC universe. I get that this isn’t possible in the cinematic universe as metas are only beginning to surface and be known in this world. But still.

Diablo: I am on the fence with Diablo. On one hand, I really enjoyed his brooding character and his internal conflict of using his powers fearful of losing complete control of them. He was most certainly a force to be reckoned with. He has a really tragic backstory, but one that is a deviation from the comics. In the comicverse, he unleashed his fury on a rival ganghouse only to discover there were innocents; women and children that also fell victim to his flames. As a result, he let the authorities take him to Belle Reve due to his overwheliming feeling of guilt for taking the lives of innocents. The movie decided to up the ante and change his backstory to losing control and taking the life of his wife and children instead. Why they decided to make his backstory that much more tragic, but completely ignore the tragedy of Katana’s backstory (see below)  was what perplexed me. The only thing I can think of is to allow the reaction of Harley Quinn, which will more than likely play out in future movies. If this isn’t the case, then to make that choice with Diablo while completely ignoring Katana’s tragedy makes absolutely no sense.

Joker: It was cool to see a completely different interpretation of the Joker, but it got old real fast, especially his laugh. When I first heard the laugh in a trailer, I thought it was interesting and definitely had a chill factor to it. I also assumed this was a specific laugh in a specific scene to invoke that specific feeling. Nope, that laugh was pretty much the same every time something happen to tickle his fancy. It never changed. And come on, no one believed the Joker was actually dead when Harley watched in horror as his helicopter crashed in a burst of flames, so she could rejoin the squad with tear filled-eyes and those oh so pouty lips.

Slipknot: Who the hell was he again? Unless you’re an avid reader of comics you still have no clue who he is other than to serve the sole purpose of being the obligatory red shirt in the movie. If you’re going to kill someone off, at least provide some semblance of a back-story to make us feel something for his death other than, whelp guess his only purpose was to die.

Boomerang: He didn’t contribute much other than to be the skeezy cat-calling sterotype to womanize the bad ass that is Katana, which again, was barely touched upon. He bailed the first chance he got only to return to the squad moments later with absolutely no motivation to do so.

Katana: Like I said, Katana is a badass, but you don’t really understand this in the movie other than to know she knows how to use her weapon. A missed opportunity to explore a pretty epic backstory of her husband being killed by his own brother who held an unrequetted love for Katana. This was referenced, but watered down by revealing “someone” killed her husband with the souleater sword that ended up in her posessession. The scene explaining that she talks to her husband would have been so much more tragic had they offered more details of this backstory of not only her husband’s death, but the tragic death of their twin children in the same incident. The movie also doesn’t take any time to explain how Katana came to be involved with Rick Flag or the suicicide squad, but she merely just shows up as his body guard with absolutely no explanation of their connection.

Killer Croc: Well, this was probably one of the most disappointing portrayals. Killer Croc is a beast in the comics, A BEAST!  The movie, sadly, turned him into a deformed thug that kind of looked like a crocodile.  The movie took the fact that Killer Croc’s alter ego is Waylon Jennings who happens to be black. They basically ran with this and made this the focus of his character, completely ignoring the raw primal power of the croc and watered him down with cheap humor. His only request is to get a flat screen TV, so he can do nothing but watch big booty dancing on BET. Come on…They completely bastardized the beast that is Killer Croc.

Enchantress: I’ll admit that I don’t know a whole lot about the Enchantress in the comic book world and that made me continue to wonder throughout the whole movie, why she was so hell-bent on taking over the world. I get that she was pissed, because she was essentially just a tool to be used, but why not just go straight for Amanda Waller? I also found it troubling that the squad’s first mission was against this seemingly all powerful herky jerky magic-wielding belly dancer. The stakes were suddenly so monumentally high in a matter of seconds with no room to explore how the squad evolves from completely conflicted individuals to a cohesive unit.

Rick Flagg: I expected more, so much more of this character. What I got was a whiny emo lovesick puppy dog who was apparently maneuvered into a relationship that makes absolutely no sense just so he can be forced to babysit the villanis that Waller recruits. Flagg actually lead a World War II team called the suicide squadron, which serves as an inspiration for putting together the meta human suicide squad, but again, this was a completely missed opportunity to better explain his connection and motivation for leading the suicide squad.

Na na na na na na na na (That’s supposed to make you think of the Batman theme music to serve as a transition into the conclusion).

Time for the cool down. Thanks to those who bared with me on my rants and ramblings on the latest installment of the DC Cinematic Universe. Alright look, I realize that the comic book buff in me tends to make me a little if not obnoxiously overcritical of the movies. These are merely my own personal qualms with the DCCU, and I completely understand that. I get why a lot of people really love these movies, but I for one will always look to Marvel as an example of how to bring the expansive comic book universe to film and do the characters and plotlines justice. I didn’t hate Suicide Squad, but I didn’t love it either.

 

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