To preface my thoughts on Suicide Squad, I will state that I went into this film with very little knowledge of the characters or the story. In other words, I had only seen what the trailers had shown me, with no influence from comics. I hadn’t heard the best things about the film before I saw it, but I was still pretty excited, and I went with a large group of family, which added greatly to the experience as a whole. Despite the fun and the hype, however, I was incredibly disappointed with the film itself. Allow me to explain why.
First off, like pretty much every other human on the planet, I can’t help but compare DC films to their Marvel equivalents. I would say that Suicide Squad is probably the DC equivalent of The Avengers. But here’s the thing about The Avengers… there were 5 movies leading up to it (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk [sort of], Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger) – building the hype, introducing the characters. We viewers had time to bond with and become invested in the back-stories of these characters. So when we got to see all our favorite pals meet and work together in The Avengers, it was exciting, because we already knew these guys. Marvel did the same thing with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. New characters were introduced with their own back-story films in between the subsequent collaboration films. DC, however, for whatever reason, decided to skip all of those intriguing back-stories and just jump straight into the collaboration. Now, there are some pros to that method.
For one, I’ve heard that many people feel overwhelmed with the Marvel universe. If you haven’t already seen all the Marvel movies, it’s tough to know where to start, and the sheer number of films you have to get through in order to enjoy the “bigger” pictures can be overwhelming. Another pro, if you can call it a pro, is that it’s easier (or, in other words, lazier) to make one movie than six. However, I believe the cons far outweigh the pros.
The biggest con of skipping all the hard work of creating an intricate universe of stories that intertwine perfectly and lead to an epic collaboration is that you’re left with one semi-stand-alone film (I say “semi” because they did at least attempt to connect this film to the Batman/Superman universe) that has to attempt to encompass a story that should have been, or at the very least could have been told over the span of at least 4 films. A large portion of the film was flashbacks of Harley Quinn, The Joker, Deadshot, and Diablo, all of which could have easily been separate films (and all of which would have been much more interesting than Suicide Squad). While the flashbacks, in my opinion, were the best part of the film (and that says a lot, I think), if there had been previous movies to work off of, they could have cut the flashbacks altogether, or at least left them a fraction of the length. That would leave us with just a quick reminder here and there rather than such long side-plots that rip your attention away from the current storyline. This would have also provided a lot more time to work with, which would have given them the opportunity to focus more on the events of this particular film, which given the lack of time, felt rushed and forced. I couldn’t have said it better than my husband, so I won’t try to:
“It felt like the only reason the bad thing was happening was so the good guys could come fix it. Which I guess is always the case in movies like this, but as a viewer, you shouldn’t be able to see that so clearly.”
I agree completely. The entire purpose of conflict in a story is to provide the opportunity for resolution. But the job of a good writer is to create such a well-organized and believable story that the viewer doesn’t feel that sense of purpose. The events should feel natural, like they would have happened without any outside help, like the conflict arose out of itself and our writers simply created a solution to the problem that already existed. It should not feel like the conversation between writers went like this:
“Oh shoot… we’ve got all this awesome background and cool shots of Harley Quinn being sexy and badass and stuff, but we don’t have any villain for these guys to fight. Thoughts?”
“Hm… I guess we could have that one chick be evil.”
“Well, she’s just one person. That’s not really big enough.”
“Fine, maybe she has a brother.”
“Uh… okay, but how is the brother going to get there?”
“Idk. He’ll just be there. Don’t worry about it.”
“Should we put in any more background on her and the brother, or nah?”
“Nah, let’s focus on Harley and Joker’s backstory. That’s what the people really want to see anyway.”
True. We do want to see that. Which is why it probably would have made more sense (and more money for you) to give us a full film about it before this one. Also, to be fair, the above mock-conversation is obviously hyperbole and probably ignorant of me, given that I know nothing about the comic book stories. I’m aware that the Enchantress plot probably was planned from the beginning of production, but my point is that this is how it felt as a viewer. And isn’t that really what counts in the end? Intent doesn’t matter much if your execution is sloppy.
Long story short, I was very disappointed with the quality of the story of Suicide Squad. They tried to do way too much in one film, and it left them with no time to create a believable and well-thought-out battle sequence (or story leading up to the battle sequence, really). Honestly, the only thing this movie did well was creating awesome, interesting back-stories for the characters and choosing amazing actors to play said characters. The issue is, that just further proves my point that they should have spent even more time on background, thus making 2/3 of the scenes in Suicide Squad moot, and maybe they would do a better job of making a good Avengers-like collaboration film for the squad of villain-heroes we would all know and love. I’d still love to see a good background film for Harley and The Joker, Deadshot, Diablo, and even the Asian chick with the katana whose name I can’t remember. And heck, even Enchantress! Maybe I would be more interested in her and her brother if I understood anything about where they came from and why they’re here and why I’m supposed to care. Unfortunately, DC kind of missed its opportunity to do this well, as making these background films pre-Suicide Squad would have been the way to go. But I’m still hoping they’ll toss us one or two after the fact, anyway, and perhaps they can redeem themselves a bit. Time will tell.
Addition: Couldn’t really find a great place to slip this in, but I have to say, I actually really enjoyed the whole new take on the Joker persona. A lot of people didn’t like the way his character was written, but I personally didn’t have a problem with it. I like when writers have the balls to do a totally new take on a character we already know and love. And let’s face it, nobody is going to do a Heath-Ledger-like-Joker better than Heath Ledger. So if it’s not going to match up, might as well just go a whole new direction. And I thought Jared Leto killed it.