If the folks at Marvel claim that their films are true representations of their comic book stories on the silver screen, The Suicide Squad puts that claim to shame. While the MCU does a good job of translating the jist of hero books onscreen, The Suicide Squad feels like it actually is a comic book.
When James Gunn was fired by Disney for a series of offensive tweets, DC did the smartest thing and hired him to write and direct their next Suicide Squad film.
2016’s Suicide Squad represented what the worst kind of comic book film could be. A mishmash of popular songs intercut with an incomprehensible plot, not many were clamoring for more of that film’s ilk.
Gunn, however, was the perfect choice to bring the Squad back in style. Having helmed both Guardians of the Galaxy films for Marvel, he had already proven that team-based hero squads were doable.
Disney, of course, quickly hired him back after their premature termination of him. The damage was already done, however, as Gunn was deep into the development of this new Squad movie.
If you were worried about the slightly sanitized tone of the MCU bleeding over into the DC Universe by way of Gunn’s involvement, fear no more. That did not happen.
The Suicide Squad is action packed, character oriented, and more than a little sweet. With this movie and Zack Snyder’s Justice League it seems as though DC has finally figured out that the right move for their superhero films is to let the director do their best work and to interfere very little.
Bringing back only Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller, Rick Flagg, and Captain Boomerang, The Suicide Squad has precious little to do with its dismal predecessor. This time around, the Squad is sent out to deal with impending doom in a fictional country.
The movie starts off swinging with a spectacularly surprising action sequence and hardly ever lets up as the story switches up different points of view and timelines.
When I saw the first time jump, I was a little worried that the trope would hamper the movie and make it derivative of other, better, films. Gunn uses it smartly and sparingly, however, as he actually jumps in between several stories that we actually want to see so the action never seems to stop.
As previously stated, this is a very violent movie. Picture Hitler’s head being blasted with machine gun fire at the end of Inglorious Basterds and you’ve got an idea of what the constant bloodshed looks like in The Suicide Squad. While squeamish viewers need not apply, those that aren’t afraid of a few blood squibs are sure to have a great time with the dozens of gory character dispatches.
This time around, The Suicide Squad is exactly as advertised. There will be no spoilers here, but don’t get too invested in the characters as they could go at any time.
One of the more surprising aspects of this film was the inclusion of some light body-horror elements. Gunn has some experience in the horror genre working with Troma films and directing the minor-classic Slither, so the spookier elements are perfectly blended in with the comedy and action tones to create an original and exciting feel.
With all of the gore and action on display, one may expect for the movie to have a cynical edge. With the exception of a precious few characters, however, everyone here is actually amicable to the other characters in the film.
There are no needless character rifts that serve to heighten the dramatic stakes. The Suicide Squad is mostly a hangout movie with violent characters that don’t hate each-other, just don’t want to die doing what they are doing.
It is so refreshing to have a group of characters, villains no less, actually get along with eachother. This feature adds depth and dimension to even the smallest of characters and draws a dramatic weight to the core of the story that just isn’t there in most movies, comic book or otherwise.
Another thing that this film does well is introduce characters most will have never heard of. Some of these villains are so outlandish that they may seem fake when really they are just unused characters from DC’s days of old.
Similar to what he did with the previously little-known Guardians, Gunn is able to make three-dimensional characters out of people called things like “The Polka Dot Man” and “Rat Catcher Two.”
I can’t say this enough, it is so refreshing to see these types of characters being treated with sympathy and grace. While the members of the Squad could die any time, we are not waiting for their deaths. We don’t want them to die because Gunn has infused each and every one of them with a humanity that allows for the audience to care for them as more than just cannon fodder.
The Suicide Squad is one of the most entertaining movies so far in 2021. Now available on HBO Max and in theatres across the country, I recommend you see it as early and as often as possible.
While it is currently underperforming at the box-office, it is my hope that The Suicide Squad finds its footing on streaming and home media. Look, there’s not a much bigger fan of the MCU than myself, but even I recognize that Disney’s formula has grown stale.
It’s time for something new, and The Suicide Squad is as promising a prospect as any other. If DC’s upcoming The Batman is as good a film as this, then I will proclaim the MCU as being forcibly removed from the superhero throne.
DC could be nearing a reign as the top superhero dog for the first time since 2012. It has been said that my speculation on the switch between Marvel and DC is lacking in evidence, but I guess we’ll see. For now, let’s just enjoy The Suicide Squad for what it is... the best big-screen superhero film since 2017’s Logan.