Okay, let’s just get this out of the way. I am in no way saying that Suicide Squad is a Good Movie. It’s not going to go down in history as one of the great examples of cinema by any stretch of the imagination. That’s not what I’m saying at all.
All I’m saying is, it isn’t a BAD movie.
26% on Rotten Tomatoes, 2 out of 5 from The Guardian, and a quick hunt around the interweb provides quotes like “a cold cup of coffee,” “professional negligence” and, perhaps the most scathing, “worse than Green Lantern.”
Harsh, people. Harsh.
I don’t for a second think that Suicide Squad is anywhere near as bad as most people insisted. Maybe that’s because by the time I’d had a chance to see it (I know, call myself a fan, then not even line up for the midnight screening… what is this?) the reviews were out, the critics had had their field day and my expectations were thoroughly lowered.
Maybe it’s because I’m perfectly fine with a movie that lets you just turn your brain off and be dazzled by cyborg pirate ninja zombie wizards or implausible sentient robots, when I know that’s what I’m signing up for.
But maybe, just MAYBE everyone jumped the gun a touch. Flew off the handle a wee bit.
But why? Why did everyone rage soooo vehemently about this, of all movies? That is not the fault of the movie, but the hype train.
When you are promised the world. When you are FINALLY promised a decent DC movie (Dark Knight franchise aside). When you see how a group of misfit little-known characters can make for an unexpected hit *coughguardiansofthegalaxycough* and you have the right actors, the potential promised by the comics, characters that can carry a movie… AND ALL THAT ADVERTISING!!!
No wonder we expected the world.
Let’s start calling a spade a spade.
Spade #1: It isn’t Suicide Squad. It‘s the Harley and Deadshot show. This is fine, great even, when you know that’s what you’re getting. Frankly, every other actor stood firmly in the shadows of Margot Robbie and Will Smith. But they shone.
Robbie’s Harley Quinn did exactly what she should have done: referenced enough of the core material to be true to the character’s origin, whilst staying accessible enough to audiences. (Can you really imagine what the Batman: The Animated Series Harley voice would have been like to listen to for a whole movie?? Just take a power drill to my eardrums now.) And likewise, Will Smith did exactly what he should have done: play the same character Will Smith plays in every movie he has ever been in. He’s the wise-cracking, charismatic smartass he was hired to be.
Spade #2: It’s not a Joker movie. He’s a bit part. We forget everything we have heard about the Joker or Jared Leto’s dickheaddery and all of a sudden his bit part in a movie that isn’t about him doesn’t make a lick of difference. Zero disappointment.
Spade #3: It’s only a couple of hours. You cannot give every character the full backstory that they all need. Some get relegated. No one actually wants to sit through something that would take longer than the full Extended Edition, Director’s Cut of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They want to go in, get enough, and leave in time for dinner, or whatever it is that people do these days after movies. This means in the “group of heroes banding together” standard plot you HAVE to focus on a couple of key characters. Do we REALLY think that Killer Crocs backstory would actually progress the plot at all? There is a metric ton of stuff that needs squeezing in. It’s a no win… put everything in and people complain. Leave stuff out and people complain.
It’s very easy to sit here and carp about how the plot felt rushed, or the generic henchmen were generic. But really, let’s look at what we actually received, leaving all pre-set expectations at the door.
Delightful, shining performances by Robbie and Smith. Witty banter and one liners between the main characters. Action scenes that had explosions and gunshots and stuff being chopped up with a samurai sword. A sweet, sweet soundtrack. Special effects. A hateable baddie. All stuff a good comic book movie needs. All perfectly enjoyable.
But when what you expect is the saviour of the entire DC cinematic universe, something for the rest of the DC films to live vicariously through, drive to soccer games and scream at the ref over, push into a university degree that it doesn’t actually want, because its father is an alumnus and his father before him… No wonder it acted out.
So let’s not hold our collective breaths for Wonder Woman. Or Justice League. They’ll be fun. Not amazing. Maybe Momoa’s Aquaman will be quality. Maybe they’ll do a Teen Titans movie that will outshine the rest (PLEASE!!!). But if we keep forcing our own agendas, and expecting the next DC movie to make up for the back catalog, we will continue to be disappointed. Some stuff can’t be atoned for.
Let them be their own movies and suddenly it’s all okay.