[THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SUICIDE SQUAD]
Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that the latest installment of the DCEU, Suicide Squad, arrived in theaters this past weekend. And unless you actively stay away from reviews before seeing a movie, you have probably heard that the critics have not been kind to the worst heroes ever. However, as can often happen with comic book adaptations, there is a bit of a disconnect between the way the critics have been viewing the movie, and how general audiences have reacted. As of this writing, Suicide Squad sits at a pretty terrible 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the audience score is much higher at 72%. Furthermore, Suicide Squad‘s Cinemascore, which often is used as an indicator of a films legs at the box office, sits at a respectable B+. For reference, Batman v Superman recorded comparable scores of 27% (critics), 65% (audience), and a B on Cinemascore.
Suicide Squad was clearly not a perfect movie (not that any movie is). Let’s be honest, truly great films do not sit at a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. It just doesn’t happen. Let’s assume in that statement that the critics beef with the current slate of DCEU films is not because of some Marvel bias. Despite the lack of perfection, clearly Suicide Squad succeeded on many levels. A 72% audience score, a B+ Cinemascore, and a new August opening weekend box office record at the tune of $135 million — these things don’t just happen from name alone. Suicide Squad did a lot right. So before you knock the movie (or after, doesn’t really matter) check out these 15 Things Suicide Squad Got Right.
15. Character Introductions
Leading up to its release, one of the biggest issues for the marketing team at Warner Bros. was likely figuring out how to generate excitement for a team of villains that, frankly, only devoted comic book fans intimately knew. Of course, Harley Quinn and the Joker are pretty mainstream. But Deadshot, Killer Croc, and Captain Boomerang? Not so much. It was a similar issue that Marvel had to deal with when trying to introduce their team of misfits in Guardians of the Galaxy.
But once Warner Bros. got the average movie goer into the theater, David Ayer and company still had to make sure you knew why we should care about these villains — or at least what made them so formidable. And for all the faults in the film, David Ayer did a tremendous job of laying the groundwork for the team. For those that have seen the animated film, Batman: Assault on Arkham, you may have noticed some similarities.
Through Amanda Waller introducing the team to her colleagues, we learned some pretty important details about the worst heroes ever. We learned Deadshot was more than just a sharpshooter. He will only do a job if he is paid first, and he has a daughter that means the world to him (one that knows about his extracurricular activities). While many already knew of Harley’s past, we learn that the Queen of Gotham wasn’t just crazy, but completely head over heels in love, so much so that she was an accomplice in the death of Batman’s sidekick, Robin. Introductions to El Diablo, Captain Boomerang, and Enchantress were also on point, and for the most part, these intros laid the groundwork for a film that could have been much, much better.
14. Entertaining Action Sequences
There may be some disagreement here, as some felt the action was not one of the film’s best qualities. However, you’d be hard pressed to find an average movie fan who ever felt bored during this film. And sure, avoiding boredom is not exactly a sign of success, but David Ayer was able to deliver some strong visuals and entertaining action scenes that did far more than just stave off the snores.
Even though the faceless, generic villains that Task Force X fought for most of the movie were not very compelling, it was sure a hell of a lot of fun seeing the squad kill them in a variety of ways. In one of the film’s best sequences, we saw Will Smith’s Deadshot take out an entire army of them on his own while Rick Flag looked on in amazement. Harley did more with her baseball bat than Alex Rodriguez has in years. And despite having very few lines, the film’s muscle, Katana and Killer Croc, had plenty of opportunities to showcase their talents with their teeth and/or sword.
13. DCEU Continuity
If there has been any consistent complaints regarding the DCEU, one surely is that Warner Bros. has rushed their characters to the big screen. We’re not saying Marvel is perfect, but they were highly effective at introducing their characters in individual movies prior to teaming them up. However, given the universe created, Suicide Squad was released at the perfect time and positioned well within the DCEU continuity.
For instance, other than just glossing over the Man of Steel’s death in Batman v Superman, that event was actually one of the main inciting factors in the formation of the squad. The government could no longer rely on Superman to save the world from metahuman threats, threats that may not share the Last Son of Krypton’s value system. Rather, they needed their own team, and that’s how Amanda Waller sold Task Force X. Furthermore, Superman’s death solved one of the problems that (in a very minor way) plagues Marvel’s post-Avengers solo films. For example, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where was Iron Man when HYDRA was about to launch project Insight? Or in Thor: The Dark World, where were the rest of the Avengers during the galaxy-threatening destruction in London?
In Suicide Squad, whether Enchantress or Incubus were compelling villains is beside the point. They were creating a device that would have threatened mankind. If Superman was around, he would have had to be there. But he was dead. Of course, you could argue, where was Flash, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Aquaman? Well, the Justice League had not formed yet, so we still do not know the extent of their heroism — other than Batman. We do know from Batman v Superman that prior to the Doomsday incident, Diana Prince had been relatively inactive for quite some time, and perhaps she still is not ready to fully join the fray. And from the looks of the mid-credits scene (more on that later), it looks like the Caped Crusader was busy doing some League-related homework.
Cameos in comic book movies have turned into the status quo. They either help link the film to other films in the same universe, or they act as a reward to die hard fans who perhaps recognize the comic writer, or an actor from a decades old film. Sometimes cameos work, sometimes they don’t. However, Suicide Squad utilized their cameos to perfection.
The two primary cameos in the film were Batman and Flash, and it makes perfect sense for the two of them to be in the film. Using them to capture their various enemies made more sense than just establishing the villains as prison inmates. These cameos reinforced the notion that we are watching a movie about supervillains (not your garden variety criminals) by reminding us who the heroes are.
Of course, whether they worked or not, any movie is made more awesome when the Dark Knight is involved. And even if just for a brief moment, it was pretty cool to see the Flash active and in uniform for the first time on the big screen. Batman’s few scenes were particularly cool, because not only did we see him in action, he really did further the plot of the movie, as it was he who was responsible for incarcerating the two main characters in the film, Deadshot and Harley Quinn.
The current critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads as follows:
“Suicide Squad boasts a talented cast and a little more humor than previous DCEU efforts, but they aren’t enough to save the disappointing end result from a muddled plot, thinly written characters, and choppy directing.”
Forget about the rest of that quote (as many will disagree with it) because the humor was absolutely a highlight of Suicide Squad. It was not overdone, and rarely seemed forced. The film was not a comedy, and clearly was not intended to be one. But there was plenty to laugh, or least chuckle, at in this movie. Nearly everything Harley Quinn said was just deranged and/or crazy enough to be humorous. Will Smith brought his classic harm and comedic chops to the role of Deadshot. And, while many of his antics were likely cut, Jai Courtney delivered as a form of comic relief in his role as Captain Boomerang.
Now don’t get us wrong, Suicide Squad should be a film with a dark tone. It is after all about a team of murderous villains, some of whom are clearly sociopaths. But the mix of humor allows the film to not take itself too seriously, which was one of the biggest problems with Squad’s DCEU predecessor.
10. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller
If there is any element to Suicide Squad that has been devoid of criticism, it is the casting choices. For just about everyone, the collection of on-screen talent was the film’s strongest asset. Few though, were more captivating on screen than Amanda Waller, as portrayed by Viola Davis. Davis’ performance does not come as much of a surprise. She is a two-time Academy Award nominated actress, and she took home an Emmy Award for her role in ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder.
Amanda Waller’s scenes were arguably some of the best in the entire film. Viola Davis was great at demonstrating Waller’s ruthlessness and the lengths she will go in the name of national security. Whether it be killing her security clearance-lacking colleagues in Midway City or threatening to kill the entire squad after they accomplished their goal, The Wall’s apparent coldhearted nature was on full display. Davis may very well have been the best casting choice of the bunch.
9. Sequel Set Up
Comic book adaptations are all about starting franchises. Excluding the rare superheroic box office flop (most of which are pretty terrible), most comic book films do well enough financially to warrant a sequel. And short of a historic drop off at the box office, Suicide Squad is going to do some good business. The question is, did Suicide Squad set itself up well for a possible sequel? The answer: yes, it did. There was a moment at the end of the film that the audience may have felt the team would be disbanded. They accomplished their goal by defeating Enchantress, Rick Flag had already destroyed his remote detonator, and Amanda Waller was nowhere to be found after being abducted by Enchantress’ forces.
We soon learned, though, that The Wall was still very much alive, and she very much still had access to her remote detonator. While Waller did acquiesce to the teams various requests, such as a cappuccino maker for Harley, a visit with his daughter for Deadshot, and BET for Killer Croc, the team was still very much imprisoned, and still very much at Waller’s mercy.
8. They Stayed Villains
Likely one of the more difficult aspects of creating a Suicide Squad film was getting the audience to care about the villains and hope they succeed without turning them into full blown heroes. And in that regard, Suicide Squad succeeded. The team is different than the band of criminals in Guardians of the Galaxy. Rather than being somewhat petty criminals with something resembling moral compasses, the members of Task Force X are unquestionably bad guys — excluding Katana and Flag, of course. Deadshot has killed hundreds of people (though no women or children). Captain Boomerang is in prison serving three consecutive life sentences. Harley Quinn is an accomplice to Joker’s numerous villainous undertakings. And that’s just three of the team members.
Frankly, it would have been annoying if the characters (with the exception of El Diablo, who sort of did) redeemed themselves and turned over a new leaf as reformed heroes. Rather, David Ayer was able to explore the inner motivations of the characters, humanizing them while at the same time reinforcing the fact that they were indeed villains — and they were staying that way. Anything else would have been a horrible misjudgment and disservice to the characters and fans alike.
7. Captain Boomerang’s Role in Slipknot’s Death
Hardly anybody was surprised that at least one member of the Suicide Squad was going to die at the hands of their neck-implanted bombs, and it was even less shocking that it was Slipknot who fell victim. But what was really cool was that his death was entirely caused by the meddling of Captain Boomerang. Not five minutes on the ground in Midway City, Boomer tells Slipknot that the bombs in their neck are clearly a ruse and that he was going to seize his freedom. Slipknot agreed, and being the master-climber he is, he attempts to scale a building before he’s quickly stopped when Rick Flag activates the bomb in his neck and blows his head off.
Having Captain Boomerang be the man responsible for his death was no accident. Digger Harkness is often responsible for the death of his teammates in various incarnations of Task Force X. In fact, he’s even tried to convince Slipknot in the comics of the bombs being a ruse, with similar, if less deadly, results.
6. Effective Mid-Credits Scene
The use of a mid-credits scene to set up future stories has become commonplace in superhero movies. Marvel uses a mid-credit scene in virtually all of their movies, and for the most part, they act as a tease for a future installment of their cinematic universe. Up until Suicide Squad, however, DC has opted not use the mid-credit scene as a way to generate excitement for future films. In part, that may be because it has not been terribly necessary. In Batman v Superman, so much was teased in the movie, that any more franchise set-up would have been obscene.
DC decided that for Suicide Squad, it was time to make use of the mid-credit scene to tease the future of the DCEU. And, frankly, they knocked it out of the park. The scene was simple. Amanda Waller meets with Bruce Wayne in the same restaurant from the beginning of the movie. In exchange for her files on known metahumans, she asks Bruce to use his influence to get the scrutiny off of her and her team for the events in Midway City. But before the scene ended, Amanda Waller let Bruce know that she is aware of his nocturnal activities, and Bruce warned Waller that if she did not shut down Task Force X, he and his friends would do it for her.
5. Art Direction
A lot more goes into making a movie than most people realize. There so many more people involved besides the writer, director, cast, and producers. Especially in reality-bending films, costume and set designs, cinematography, and other forms of art direction play a huge role in the overall aesthetic and success of a movie.
The art direction in Suicide Squad was straight up superb. Harley Quinn’s costumes and props were right on the mark – including the quick flash of her in her classic costume, as well as the detailing on her revolver and bat. Killer Croc’s makeup was extremely well done, and a refreshing take on what many assumed would be a heavily CGI’d character.
Love or hate Enchantress as the story’s big bad, her appearance was striking and well put together. Throw in a fresh take on the Joker’s look, and Deadshot’s comic book faithful costume, and the real heroes of this movie are the ones that worked behind the scene. Visually, Suicide Squad was on point and faithful to the source material.
4. Will Smith as Deadshot
It has been quite a while since we saw this guy in classic form. Remember when Will Smith would release a movie every year to over $100 million at the box office? It wasn’t luck, audiences loved him. Unfortunately — well for us — Will decided to appear in fewer movies, and short of Men in Black 3, he had only appeared recently in more dramatic fare such as Focus and Concussion. But Smith came back with a vengeance in Suicide Squad. His casting as Deadshot was nothing short of perfect. It is not a surprise that many are singling out Will Smith’s performance as the highlight of the movie.
Other than possibly Harley Quinn, Deadshot was given the most backstory to work with in Suicide Squad. As previously noted, we began to understand his motivations and code. He will not kill women or children, and he doesn’t kill just to kill, he has to be paid first (not that that is a justification, but it shows he’s not quite as coldblooded as some of his new pals). Smith delivered his classic charm and charisma, leading to Deadshot being one of the best parts of the film. He towed the line very well between villain and reluctant leader of the squad. And of course, Deadshot delivered some of the film’s best one-liners, as only Will Smith could.
Hopefully we don’t lose you here. The soundtrack has been a bit of a controversial topic when it comes to its utilization in Suicide Squad. Some have loved the choice of songs, while others found them distracting and out of place. However, in a way, the music was used very well in the film. Sure, David Ayer did not tell a story with his choice of music as, say, Scorcese or Tarantino does. But that was never the intent.
Many of the songs in the film were used to introduce members of the team, and in that regard, they were well chosen. For example, Amanda Waller came out to “Sympathy for the Devil” (yes, we know this song has been in 1000 movies), which was appropriate given her role in the film. A slight nod to the tune may have even come from Harley Quinn, when she asks Waller, “are you the devil?”.
Speaking of Harley, she came out to “You Don’t Own Me”. Some of the lyrics to that song include “don’t tell me what to do…don’t tell me what to say”, sentiments that Harley likely agrees with — minus the voices in her head.
2. Joker and Harley’s Relationship
No matter what you thought of Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker in Suicide Squad, it would be tough to argue that it was not awesome seeing the King and Queen of Gotham on screen together for the first time in live-action. Ayer did a great job of showing just how toxic the relationship is between Harley and Joker. While the timing for certain flashbacks in the movie may have been questionable, their content was not. Through brief looks, we saw the evolution of Harley Quinn and the Joker from their doctor-patient relationship to their crazy-crazier relationship.
Harley continues to carry her obsession for Mr. J despite him torturing her and getting her to jump into a vat of ACE chemicals. Further, Ayer succeeded in showcasing Joker’s own desire for Harley, which made the B-plot of him attempting to get her back fit into the larger narrative. Now, the execution of that plot was a bit funky, likely due to a bunch of cut scenes, but from what we can gather, there are sure to be no shortage of fans hoping to see Harley Quinn and her puddin’ on the big screen again. And if not, we at least hope we’ll get a look at some of those scenes that did not make the final cut.
1. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn
Fans and critic views on Suicide Squad are all over the place. There are aspects that some love and others hate. There are actor performances that are being revered by some but disdained by the rest. But if there is one element to Suicide Squad that appears to be universal, it’s that Margot Robbie was spectacular as Harley Quinn. It was like she was born for the role. And if there was any character that Suicide Squad had to get right, it was Harley. After all, she is a fan-favorite in a major way, and it would have been such a horrendous missed opportunity if Warner Bros. and DC were to have mucked up her first live-action appearance.
Fortunately, Margot Robbie delivered every time she appeared on screen. Whether it be her scary-good Brooklyn accent, perfectly manic comedic timing, or overall zaniness, Robbie made Harley the clear stand out of the film. Robbie delivered her lines as Harley Quinn just about as perfect as anyone since Arleen Sorkin (the original voice of the character), and frankly, we just
want need to see more.
There have been rumors that we may see a Harley spinoff flick, or perhaps she may even show up in Ben Affleck’s solo Batman adventure. We’ll keep our fingers firmly crossed for both.
While Suicide Squad continues to be polarizing for critics and fans alike, there are more than enough enjoyable elements in the film to warrant a viewing or two. What were your favorite parts of Suicide Squad? Let us know in the comments!
Suicide Squad is in theaters now. Wonder Woman opens on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash and Batman solo movie are currently without release dates.