Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Movie Review: Suicide Squad

So I've been getting into the comics scene lately. The downside to this is trying to insert myself into the ongoing ever-changing hydra (LOLGEDDITGEDDIT) that are comics, especially when the recommended comics for newbies are...kind of dumb. (See: Frank Miller's Batman)

I think this is why the comic book movies are increasingly popular. They represent an alternative to trying to figure out the best place to start in comics that have been going on and rebooted over and over for decades. Comic book movies tend to take bits and pieces of each "reboot" to create their own universe. (Which works, as comics apparently exist in a multi-verse. To quote Linkara, "Comics are strange and confusing.")

The idea of Suicide Squad always intrigued me, although I wanted to get into the more basic comics before reading them. So I was pretty excited to see previews for the movie. The plot, for those two people who have been living under a rock:

Amanda Waller, an intelligence officer, sees a very real problem with the increasing number of "metahumans" in the world. Piggybacking off of Batman v. Superman, what would happen if another Superman-style threat occurs? Or, to put it another way, what would happen if these popular superheroes decided to use their powers against humanity? Gather up a team of supervillains to fight them. Granted, this doesn't make a lot of sense given the kind of villains we are given. Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and Killer Croc are all unique, but hardly super-powered. The only character that really has any major skills is Diablo, and, well...spoiler alert, he dies.

There is one other super powered character, and she is the one Waller uses to convince the government to give her idea the green light. The Enchantress is, simply put, a Great Old One that was reawakened by the world's worst archaeologist, June Moone, who touches artifacts with her bare hands just to see what happens. The Enchantress shares a body with her and can take over. Waller controls their resident eldritch horror by stabbing at her heart. But, the Enchantress manages to get away with the help of her brother, Eldritch Horror #2. Together, they decide to destroy the world by, like, smooshing cars together in the sky, which the Enchantress does through random twitching and writhing, or something.

The plot falls apart when you think too hard about it. I can understand a lot of the criticisms about the movie. However, the movie is really about character interactions.

I thought it did a good job of giving us sympathetic characters who are, nonetheless, seriously screwed up in many ways. Front and center, of course, is Harley Quinn, the animated series character whose popularity exploded, making her a mainstay of Batman comics. Her particular arc involves waiting for the Joker to get her out of prison, while going along with an admittedly crazy scheme. Of course, that translates to "every day" for her. Flashbacks show us her screwed up relationship with the Joker. Recently the film has come under more criticism for cutting a more straightforward abuse scene, but let's face it, their relationship was never healthy. What bothered me most was that the film attempted to romanticize this relationship. Fantasy it may be, but when you think about all the young girls who genuinely want a man like the abusive controlling Christian Grey, it seems irresponsible for the movie to do this. They may show us the screwed up parts, but the end scene is clearly supposed to make us feel this is a happy ending.

The other characters are less filled out, but nonetheless they are compelling enough. The second important character is Deadshot, the sniper-for-hire who just wants to spend time with his daughter when he isn't killing for money. He isn't a heroic person, but he is probably the most relatable. Captain Boomerang, unfortunately, was a walking Australian stereotype (I'm fairly certain the beer he kept drinking was Foster's), and Killer Croc was easily forgettable. Katana had potential, but they gave us very little to work with when it came to her.

Diablo is the other character that draws unexpected attention. He thinks of himself as a monster due to his pyrokinetic abilities, which get out of control when he is angered. He spends most of the movie trying not to commit any violence at all, something that stands out considerably in a team of villains. In fact, he is the only truly heroic character; the ostensible "good guys" are the government, looking for super soldiers to do their dirty work; Amanda Waller, who kills her assistants when they are unexpectedly thrust into a situation they weren't "cleared" for; and Colonel Rick Flag, who is forced into working with people he has no respect for.

The real enjoyment came from seeing these people trying to work together and making a connection in spite of themselves. By the end, they work together because they want to, not because they have bombs implanted in them. Diablo sacrifices himself for them because they are the only family he has.

The fact is, it wasn't a bad movie. It wasn't a great movie, either, but it was very enjoyable. I feel like DC found what it's been looking for. The movie is dark as their movies tend to be, but it had plenty of dark humor to match.


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