Suicide Squad felt like a long introduction, followed by a self-generated plot, all to lead up to the next Batman film. I think the writers and producers should have taken notice of the marketing and lead ins for Marvel’s Deadpool and ripped them off so as to knowingly set Squad up as a tale of multiple twisted love stories. Because that’s what it was. Yeah, there was action, yeah, there were jokes and The Joker, yeah, there were political machinations, but mostly it was an examination of control and sacrifice and love to later contrast to Batman’s own upcoming super squad. No doubt that will be about justice and duty and boring cut away shots of wind through long grass.
Anyway, to the movie at hand: it’s prosaic in how it relates the personal cost of being bad. The anti-heroes are bad, with more darkness within, yet had to go to lengths to tell each other. It felt, at times, like group therapy, rather than a comic action franchise flick. More show, less tell.
As for the baddest of the bad: that was Amanda Waller, the state sanctioned baddie. As the puppet master, she makes everyone else look amateur, just like Deadshot makes the professional soldiers look like cadets playing with air rifles. He felt like the most rounded character, but then he got more opportunities to interact with others.
As an Australian, I cringed at Captain Boomerang and I wasn’t alone. I can inform DC that no self-respecting criminal would use that title. It sounds like a lame kids TV character. The Postcard Bandit maybe. Captain Boomerang, no. I know these characters are lifted from the comics and the films want to convey gritty authenticity without the ham, but really? George ‘Digger’ Harkness first appeared in 1960 so the source of my unease is this kitsch, and dated US take on what an Australian bad guy might look like, inspired by bush ranging legends, I suppose. I wish in this modern interpretation, if they had to keep the name, they had made it ironic. That would’ve felt more Australian. That’s not to criticise Jai Courtney. He and his unicorn were alright. But I laughed out loud at Waller’s comment about Harkness robbing every bank in Australia. Unless he did it with code, it’s ridiculous. And it wasn’t meant to be funny.
As for Harley Quinn and The Joker? So much to say about agency, control, feminism, and I….just can’t much. They are toxic and I can’t be bothered teasing apart the clown and the psychiatrist and their abuse dynamic. It’s not romantic, even if they have pet names for each other. I don’t want to have to work out who is more honest: the torture victim with an eating disorder, or the dreamer of marriage with two kids and a house. That white picket fence delusion is the centre of Harley’s crazy, it is the source of the discord. And, it was implanted by the Joker and that was cruel. She is his creation, his femme fatale denied her implanted desires of a ‘normal’ life, without a second thought about how she lost her identity and career. To me, Amanda Waller is thus the real feminist icon here, breaking glass ceilings, getting the dirty work done and surviving, all in a sensible suit.
While Harley doesn’t fear death, she does have fears of abandonment, just I had fears she was all about being exploited. And she was. But not in the same way as June/the Enchantress. That was a more interesting relationship and had the film spent more time on this, it would have been justified, since the Enchantress was
crucial to the plot.
It’s not the worst movie in the world. At least there were no boring bits, but yeah. I wanted it to be: grittier, meaner, crazier, and more liberating for the squad, after all they were meant to find some kind of twisted joy in the mayhem and violence. Mostly though, I felt preached at more than anything and I don’t need that.
For further consideration:
- compare and contrast acceptance and prejudice via the experiences of Groot and Croc.
- explore the concept of family in Suicide Squad, Firefly and Guardians of the Galaxy.