Five years ago, the DCEU was in serious trouble. The long-awaited live-action pairing of two big DC characters Batman vs. Superman was a letdown and then Suicide Squad was the hold my beer equivalent.
Wonder Woman and Aquaman helped rebuild the franchise after the disappointing Justice League movie. But it’s apparent all along that the studio interference was keeping the DC Comics from doing what they needed to do.
The biggest hurdle, I think, for audiences to get over is that the DCEU isn’t working together to string storylines along, where something that happens in one movie is resolved in another, which is the case with the MCU. Comics have always had characters crossing over so it was only natural to have them doing it on the screen. In this case, the movies can work better as standalones without having to see the previous ones to understand what is going on.
This is nothing new. Stephen King often has references to his other works in his novels. Kevin Smith has been doing this for years starting with his second movie, Mallrats. Other authors, such as Elmore Leonard and most famously, William Faulkner, did this too.
The Suicide Squad isn’t much of a sequel of the disastrous 2016 movie as much as a do-over. And considering every few years it seems a franchise is trying to restart, reboot or even retcon previous sequels, there’s a meta feel to a movie without winking too much at the camera.
The first SS was a muddle mess of a movie that took itself too seriously. I’m not going to complain because I like Will Smith, but I think he had too much influence over the tone of the movie. While Batman and The Flash showed up in smaller roles, it seemed Smith was the lead protagonist. When you’re doing an ensemble, you have to give and take.
The only highlight was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, in a role so manic and outrageous, she was worth the price of admission. But there were some problems. I didn’t like the portrayal of The Joker covered in tattoos by Jared Leto, even though it did explore the character’s crime empire more than previous adaptations.
But for the most part, it seemed to be stuck trying to make the characters more memorable and poignant. For a movie with the title, you need the lowest of the low of characters. I feel James Gunn, who wrote and directed, the movie flipped through and research so many DC characters to find the most forgotten, worst liked characters he could find.
I’m reminded of the line from This is Spinal Tap where it’s mentioned, “There’s a fine line between stupid and clever.”
Why not have John Cena show up as Christopher Smith/Peacemaker in a costume that makes him look like he should be on a street corner in Hollywood or NYC taking pictures with tourists for tips.
Bring in Nanue/King Shark to make a joke about how Disney and Marvel have introduced Baby Yoda/Grogu and Groot as joke on how they want to sell toys. But have the character as a shark/human hybrid with dad bod and an constant appetite for human flesh and the intelligence of a Q-tip. And have him voiced by Sylvester Stallone, nonetheless
The best addition character is David Dastmalchian as Abner Krill/Polka Dot Man, a character whose body produces polka dots that he throws at people. But the polka dots can burn flesh. Dastmalchian appeared in The Dark Knight as one of The Joker’s minions. He played Kurt in the Ant-Man movies as well as playing Abra Kadabra in The Flash and appearing on Gotham.
He’s also voiced Julian Day/Calendar Man and Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin in the Batman: The Long Halloween animated movies. So, he’s already a pro at this and he does make the character more than one-dimensional.
It’s so silly in so many ways to have all these less known characters, but it works. And that’s thanks to a sick bastard like Gunn and I’m totally complimenting the crazy sumbitch. Gunn broke his cherry working for Troma Films under the mentorship of another crazy motherfucker Lloyd Kaufman (who appears here in a cameo).
Squad is really a nice marriage of Troma and DC Comics in what is an outrageously violent and bloody marvel (hehe!) that looks more like a Troma parody than a straight-up mega-blockbuster. And if you know anything about Kaufman, you know that he’s spent decades giving the middle finger to Hollywood and over-hyped and over-priced movies. He must be a proud father figure seeing one his prodigies make it big while at the same time not forgetting where he came from.
Troma movies are hard to critique. You’d have better luck trying to describe a Jackson Pollack in Farsi to a blind person whose never seen or understands the concept of colors. That’s why a movie like this works so well. It just doesn’t give a fuck.
I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, but the first 15-20 minutes are such a nice beginning to let the viewers know they’re in for two more hours of anything goes.
Returning from the first movie along with Robbie are Joel Kinnaman as Col. Rick Flag, this time a lot more chillaxed that he was before; Viola Davis, as Amanda Waller, the tough and stoic director of A.R.G.U.S. and the Task Force X program, aka the Suicide Squad; and Jai Courtney, as George “Digger” Harkness/Captain Boomerang.
Idris Elba plays Robert DuBois/Bloodsport, a mercenary with a technologically advance suit. Waller “recruits” him as DuBois’ daughter is facing a prison sentence, despite being 16. It was originally reported that Elba had been cast to replace Smith as Deadshot, but it was determined to have him as a new character incase Smith could be cast in a future movie. I think having more BIPOC characters in superhero movies is a great sign of change.
Portugese actress Daniela Melchior as Cloe Cazo/Ratcatcher who has the ability to control rats. She also seems to be constantly tired and sleeping. And she has her favorite rat as a companion who Bloodsport doesn’t like because he’s terrified of rats.
They are assembled because there has been a coup d’etat in Corto Maltese and they are to stop Dr. Gaius Greives (Peter Capaldi) on Project Starfish. And that’s all I can really tell you because anymore will be spoiling the fun as the movie grows larger in absurdities with explosions, outrageous over-the-top violence and dark comedy.
It’s nice to see Davis tackle a role where she’s a very unlikeable character. It just adds to her range and versatility as one of the best actress working now. Both her and Elba, who have mostly been in serious roles are able to branch out and make us laugh. Bloodsport and Peacemaker have a pissing contest on who can be the biggest badass motherfucker and Cena, no stranger to comedy, and Elba know how to work the roles playing off each other.
Gunn brings the same tone here that he did with Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel. There is one scene in which Bloodsport begins to scale the side of a building as they used to in the old Batman TV series. This little touch of metahumor is what makes this one of the best DC Comics and superhero movies to be made.
I also liked how they set most of the movie on Corto Maltese, which was briefly mentioned in the 1989 Batman movie. There’s a bigger universe in DC Comics than what has been portrayed on the screen in past years. It’s time to branch out the way the MCU did.
That’s the great thing about getting Gunn to make the movie. I think DC and especially Warner Brothers is finally realizing it can’t keep focusing on the same characters. Shazam was a nice change of pace and the very R-rated Birds of Prey with Robbie as Quinn show that they don’t always need to rely on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to tell stories.
That’s not saying I don’t like those three characters. I’m a big Batman fan, but The Flash, Green Arrow and especially Martian Manhunter have their own legion of fans who want to see them on the big screen. And finally, it seems that time is coming.