A lot of people are complaining that Rotten Tomatoes is wrong about giving a low score to Suicide Squad and yet, as time goes by, more and more moviegoers complain about the movie. So, is Suicide Squad any good or is it the horrible mess critics seem to think it is?
First, I’ll start by saying that I really, really like the movie. In my opinion, it was a great summer blockbuster and if you take the movie for what it is, I feel like it almost perfectly played its role and filled its niche.
It was funny by moments, filled with wonderful music moments, the action was often incredible and the major characters were, I think, wonderfully played.
So why all of the hate?
First, this movie is presented as an ensemble movie (a movie with a wide cast) and opens as an ensemble movie, but in all honesty, it’s not. It’s the Deadshot and Harley Quinn movie, with the rest of the Suicide Squad (including their excellent handler, Rick Flag) as secondary characters.
I feel like a lot of people complaining that Captain Boomerang or Katana had nothing to do missed that point, but once you understand that basic fact, the movie is a lot more enjoyable. You see Captain Boomerang’s lack of actions as giving our lead characters more space.
Would have I preferred that Killer Croc been given a greater role? Sure! But this is not what this movie is about and I feel like people are judging the movie based on their expectations rather than on the movie itself and while that’s completely valid, I feel like it’s useless as a review for people without clear expectations when it comes to this movie.
Speaking of expectations, my second belief is that people are missing what DC is about and expect their movies to be Marvel movies.
I’ll be honest, before the MCU even began, I preferred Marvel. DC appear to be stories about Gods and the fights between them, while Marvel is more about humans with superpowers.
What’s the difference? The humanity of the characters. In Marvel, the characters often have more human problems than the Gods of DC, at least, that was always my impression.
Mutants fight the oppression from the humans in a remix of the civil war movement, Magneto flees to Genosha in an allegory of the foundation of Israel, but the fights of DC are more epic in nature: you have overpowered villains like the Joker, Lex Luthor or Sinestro doing horrible things and are fought using raw power. In Marvel, even Galactus is fought by appealing to Silver Surfer’s humanity.
And you know what? I am fine with that!
Both companies get to present different stories in different ways. The only problem is that because of this, Marvel is able to carry in the public mind a larger cast of characters because each character is unique in his humanity, in his personality while DC which seems to focus on the character powers, is stuck with a small cast of heavy hitters like Batman and Superman.
So what does this mean for Suicide Squad?
Previous DC movies have tried to be more focused on the human side of characters, like the Dark Knight trilogy, but I feel like overall, they’ve failed at that particular aspect in most of their movies which in many cases, affected the overall quality of the movie.
But Suicide Squad is the first movie from DC that’s seen (I still haven’t seen Batman V Superman at the time of writing this review) which doesn’t fail on that aspect because I feel like they only paid lip service to the idea.
We see Deadshot’s daughter, but we don’t get to feel like Deadshot’s primary motivation is his daughter. Unlike other reviewers, I am fine with that too! Deadshot is a character that is all about his power and his actions and on that level, I feel like Will Smith and the director did a great job.
Did it bother me that Will Smith was also part comic relief? No, because that’s what moviegoers expect from this actor, regardless of his roles. I suspect that in the first cut of the movie (which needed 4 weeks of reshoot), Will Smith played a more traditional Deadshot and the test viewers hated him for it.
Perhaps the movie could have had improved fidelity with the comics if another actor would have played a more serious Deadshot but personally, I love the fresh take and felt like the character was real.
After all, as Harley Quinn so clearly says “We’re bad guys”.
Which brings me to the third point:
Harley Quinn hyper-sexualization.
A big percentage of the critics blame her for not being feminist enough, for her bikini scene, for going into battle with bare legs, in short, for being hyper-sexualized.
Yes, in the past, female characters tended to be defined entirely as either being a sexual object or a damsel in distress. Harley Quinn is neither
Harley Quinn is neither even if the Joker keep saving her and even if she dresses sexually.
I feel like the feminist movement has done a lot to help female character break out of the old stereotypes but many of them try to prevent original female roles from hitting the big screen.
Yes, I know, in the comics, the Joker doesn’t love Harley Quinn, Yes, I know, in the comics, that’s not how she dresses.
But what if there is a link between these two objections? The Joker is a chaotic evil asshole, so is it so hard to imagine that if Harley Quinn had dressed in a more sexy way, he would have fallen for her?
After all, in the Tim Burton Batman movie, doesn’t the Joker fall for Vicky Vale based mainly on her appearance?
Even if it’s misogynic to reduce women to their look, aren’t forgetting that the Joker is one of the ultimate bad guys in the DC Universe? Isn’t it normal that he breaks social rules? Isn’t he supposed to be a counter-example?
Had Harley Quinn been a mindless and useless bimbo, I would have understood the hate, but she stands on her own and hs her own personality outside of being Mr. J’s girlfriend.
I can still understand the hate for her character: in the US at least and in Hollywood in particular, women still have a lot of work to go on if they can expect to be treated at well as the men, but the one point I have a problem with is with the soundtrack.
I love movies with a big soundtrack and I commented to my wife during the movie of how great it was that the entire opening was done on a musical montage.
Ironically, I generally hate musicals, but I love it when movies accompany the action and in Suicide Squad, the music was just perfect.
Was the editing rushed? Was the CGI poor? Was the pacing horrible? Honestly, it didn’t feel like it. I did feel that in the beginning, Amanda Waller explaining in two consecutive meetings what the Suicide Squad was felt a little redundant, but 5 minutes later it was forgiven.
I was warned that the villain would be underwhelming but it didn’t feel like it. The sudden switch of objective near the end that people seem to have hated felt a lot more natural than the critics claimed.
The bar scene didn’t, in my opinion, kill the pacing but instead gave us a moment to step back from the action to breathe and do a little more character development.
Which leaves us with one last critic: the plan of the villain.
Let’s spoil the movie a little: the villain wants to kill all humans, destroy the world basically.
How original! The critics say. To this I reply: have you ever read a DC comics? The world is constantly in danger! That’s what DC is about and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
In conclusion, I personally loved it more than Avengers: Age of Ultron, and even if the human elements of Captain America: Civil War were superior, I don’t feel like Suicide Squad was much inferior to it overall.
In short: go see it.
PS: Image courtesy of Warner Brothers