You may have looked at that ‘The Suicide Squad’ headline and thought “Surely it can’t be THAT GOOD.” Well, it kinda is. Because it did exactly what it was supposed to: enteratin.
Ranking at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes (a hard feat), the one thing that comes to mind after watching ‘The Suicide Squad’ 3 times through (once in the theater, where JOHN CENA SURPRISED THE CROWD), and 2 more times at home on HBO Max, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that matches the headline – BUT, psychologically, I know exactly why.
When we go into DC movies like ‘Wonder Woman,’ ‘Justice League,’ and of course, anything from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have such high expectations to “get it right,” and “get the characters right.” Some share that for the longest time, DC tried staying away from the “Marvel Formula” in order to make their films, and have seemingly avoided that… Until now, by hiring James Gunn (who also directed ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’).
However, despite having someone who’s working within that formula as a director, something so absolutely off the Comic Book bibles such as this story of ‘The Suicide Squad,’ we are free to enjoy the film without worrying about Comic continuity (though Warner Bros. did pull together some light reading to get the gist of the characters, as well as a book created based off the movie).
We’re not sitting there questioning “Is this movie WORTHY of Harley Quinn” like we would with Wonder Woman. We’re not asking “Is Idris Elba REALLY a good casting pick for Bloodsport?” Of course, we’re not. With these films, in particular, we’re made to care about a new cast (save from Harley, Flag, Waller) that has roots in the DC Universe, taking semi-decent but virtually unknown characters to the masses and gives them purpose.
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite notes to take away from ‘The Suicide Squad,’ available on HBO Max and in theaters everywhere.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Kicking off the front of the movie, we see how teams 1 and 2 are assembled (Team one being completely obliterated save for Flag and Harley), and Team 2 learning how to get along without killing each other (something you can say that Gunn has experience in while trying to establish Rocket, Groot, Drax, Star-Lord, and Gamora).
Pete Davidson as Blackguard takes the first real hit of gore, followed swiftly in death by some other star cameos including Nathan Fillion as TDK (The Detachable Kid), and Michael Rooker (formerly Yondu of ‘Guardians’) as Savant.
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) uses her conniving ways to coax Bloodsport (Idris Elba) into joining Belle Reve’s infamous task force nicknamed “Suicide Squad,” along with Peacemaker (John Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone).
After some mistakes along the way, and a hilarious moment within a club on Corto Maltese while waiting to capture Thinker (Peter Capaldi), the team starts to bond… ish… while fulfilling the mission. While I’m not going to give you a play-by-play on how we end up here, and after Harley Quinn is reunited with Rick Flag and introduced to the living squad, the crew takes on multiple governments, and it’s dark extra-terrestrial secret.
‘THE SUICIDE SQUAD’ HIGHLIGHTS
The dick-measuring contest between Bloodsport and Peacemaker
About 30 minutes in, there is a sequence between Bloodsport and Peacemaker trying to show who is more lethal in combat. It also happens to be absolute comedy considering that you rarely see Idris Elba let alone John Cena swear as much as they do in the film. At one point, Bloodsport tells him “No one likes a show-off,” and Cena drops the line “Unless what they’re showing off is DOPE AS FUCK.” Considering Cena’s shift to Squeaky Clean “Hustle, Loyalty Respect” WWE John Cena from his former gimmick as the Doctor of Thuganomics, it is a taste of raunchy Cena that adults have sorely missed.
Polka-Dot Man’s Mommy Issues
While it is a “punching down” joke where Polka-Dot Man’s mom is a less-than-attractive and fairly large woman (further demonizing non-attractive and fat people), it’s hard not to laugh at Polka-Dot Man dancing in the club with a bunch of different versions of her, and her as the big-bad at the end of the movie. It’s important to note that while actors and actresses are cast as these types of characters, and obviously they elected to do it, it’s important to note that some tropes are tropes that we should try and avoid when we create things with our own hands, or at the very least, verbalizing about others in real life.
Harley Quinn labeled as an “Anti-American” Icon
Harley is captured (as you probably know from seeing the trailer) and ends up having an escapade with the Presidente of Corto Maltese. After his team dolls her up in a red ballgown, she is escorted into Luna’s palace, she spends the day having a romantic fling, which ends in her realizing that when she falls for men, those men are BAD NEWS. After all this time, Harley is finally starting to notice red flags (which you’d think she would understand, given her Ph.D. in Psychology). However, to backtrack, Luna tells her that “Harley Quinn’s fire and rebellion in the face of American Oppression is something to which my entire country aspires.” Harley’s reaction is simply “Oh,” and she seems as if she’s already starting to realize that this whole situation, though very high class visibly, is rotten on the inside. She is reminded later of the same sentiment when Luna proposes to her, and says that his people would love her and that “you symbolize anti-American fervor.” Harley responds again with “Oh,’ and the wheels begin to spin. Eventually, it leads to Luna’s end, and character development for the Queen of Clowns.
Before I go further, I must note that when I viewed this movie for the first time, I was there as a member of the press, and when we leave movies that we are invited to, we are supposed to give our reaction to a representative of the company who invited us to the screening. The journalist in front of me had a very bleak outlook on the movie, and the first words that came out of her mouth were that she didn’t enjoy “the Anti-American” rhetoric that came from the film. A lot of the film drills into the flaws within Americans when upholding political agendas, but it seems to only be offensive to those who lean right.
- When the team obliterates an entire peaceful village accidentally, the Freedom Fighters’ leader says that that the Americans come in “guns blazing”
- The fact that the Corto Maltese government had been working with the American Government to hide Project Starfish = War Secrets / Americans being the “secret bad guy”
- Peacemaker’s speech about Liberty (and willingness to eat an island of dicks for it), protecting the American name at all costs
These points and more seem to offend Americans who still uphold the highest patriotism when in reality, it’s not an inaccurate depiction of what Americans do, those viewers just don’t like having their faces shoved in it, reflecting the truth of “The American Dream.”
Ratcatcher 1 and Ratcatcher 2
The sad backstory of Ratcatcher 1 teaching his daughter the ways of wielding rats while having an unspoken but visualized heroin addiction may seem like a very sad origin, but when Ratcatcher 2, his daughter, finally shows the crew how her power works on a large scale, there is a flashback that shows her and her father, played by none other than Taika Waititi, having a wholesome and full-circle moment, as Cleo cries while defending her new friends against the enemy.
King Shark and his Quest for Love
While Stallone doesn’t have to do MUCH dialog, his CGI counterpart visibly shows that he’s constantly looking for love. Not sexual love, but for someone to just CARE about him. After he tries eating Ratcatcher 2, she askes Nanaue (King Shark’s actual name) if he would eat her if they were friends, and he said that doesn’t have any friends. She shakes his hand, proclaims they are friends, and for the rest of the film, the crew seems to be safe from Nanaue’s affection for human flesh. In his body language, you see him looking at a couple making out in the slum area of Corto Maltese, watching other people interact on their travels, making a molded figure of Peacemaker, and of course, his affection for the alien fish he finds inside Jotunheim. Someone just PLEASE be kind to King Shark! He’s so sweet.
Though mostly spoiled by the trailer, Harley has a 5-minute sequence of slaughtering a shit ton of soldiers. Out of the whole movie, this sequence is (albeit ridiculous with the CGI flowers), one of the most detailed fight scenes in the whole movie. The fact that Harley gets that glory as a female is phenomenal, and considering she is the most popular character utilized in the film when it comes to legacy, she deserves it. I also find it hysterical that she’s a homicidal clown that’s broken out of a million different situations and Arkham Prison, yet Flag felt the need to save her because they’re friends, and how she tries to appease him and the team by saying she can go back in and they can still do their “really good plan.” Also, the javelin joke creeps up on you right in this scene, so listen carefully when Bloodsport asks “What’s with the javelin” as she’s hugging Flag.
Bloodsport V. Peacemaker # 2
I do not want to give this away, despite that I warned of spoilers, but I’ll say this much. From the beginning, Bloodsport and Peacemaker are arguing about hitting targets dead center, and Peacemaker says “I use smaller bullets.” This information comes to play at the end of the film, and it took me 3 tries to catch it, so I’m just telling you now that it’s there. It makes the pay-off all the more awesome once you get it.
While there are not straight-up original soundtrack bangers like “Purple Lamborgini” or “Sucker for Pain,” the soundtrack has echoes of James Gunn’s love for having great mixtapes. He’s quoted on some of his song choices in Den of Geek saying “It was either ‘Folsom Prison Blues,’ which of course is at the very beginning of the movie or it was The Pixies’ ‘Hey,’ which I’ve wanted to use forever,” Gunn says. “I had thought before, oh, that’d be great in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but there’s all the ‘whores’ talk. You can’t really use it in the Guardians movie. But I love that song. I love a good, slow walk. And what better thing to slow walk to than the Pixies’ ‘Hey’?”
Some of the other tracks include “Can’t Sleep” from K.Flay during the club scene, and a very large missed opportunity using the original “Just A Gigolo” from Louis Prima when they could have used the cover from Van Halen’s David Lee Roth when he released a solo album.
Be sure to check out ‘The Suicide Squad’ on HBO Max or in Theaters.
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