As the Marvel money train keeps chugging on, DC is struggling to keep up. Both Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman received mixed reviews. No doubt, DC hoped Suicide Squad would be the movie to provide a more steady basis for its own money-train. After all, the idea of super villains fighting crime is wacky and seemingly paradoxical. Not to mention the cast is just as kooky. Jared Leto certainly built up a ton of hype after all the “unique” gifts he gave his castmates during the course of his method-acting. The stage was set for the squad to put the DC team on its back, but I don’t think they lived up to the hype.
I must admit there were some strong performances by Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, but some of the other characters seemed to fall at the wayside. Part of what made Deadshot such a successful character in the movie was his relationship to his daughter. As a super efficient bounty hunter, Deadshot made a seemingly perfect villain. Yet, he was not a one-dimensional evildoer. He was a man who wanted to see and care for his daughter so she could live the life she wanted to live without resorting murder like her father. Deadshot had values, something to strive for, something to lose. Despite his tendencies to kill, there was something very human about him.
As for many of the other characters, we didn’t get a clear idea of what made them tick. Captain Boomerang was an Australian who stole things with a boomerang. Why does he steal things? Other than the obvious stereotype, why a boomerang? Why is throwing a boomerang even a notable skill?
Killer Croc was a scary monster who said basically nothing. When Amanda Waller explained how abuse and ridicule turned him into the monster he is, we got a glimpse at his humanity. Only a glimpse. The film never elaborated more on his humanity.
Similarly, we got only glimpses of Katana’s backstory. She was the silent, serious foreigner type. I get it. However, the story of her murdered husband didn’t move me at all because Katana herself said nothing. Also, DC you can’t just gloss over the fact she has a sword that captures the souls of her enemies. Contrary to what you think, that’s not normal. And another thing, why the hell was Katana with the Suicide Squad? She just showed up and Rick Flag was like, “Oh, you’re late.”
Worst of all though was Slipknot. I don’t remember hearing about him until he joined the Suicide Squad at Midway City. Then five minutes later he died. And do we need to talk about his lame super ability (he’s good at climbing)? I get that he was in the comics, but don’t include a character if he is that irrelevant.
As for the tone of the movie, it was less dark than Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman. There were a handful of funny moments. It’s certainly a step in the right direction. Even so, not all the jokes were good and after a while Harley Quinn, the main vehicle for humor, seemed like she was trying too hard to be funny. Nothing more to say, but try again writers.
Finally, we need to talk about the Joker. The girls seem to like Jared Leto’s Joker because he’s cute. Whatever. That’s great. Anyways, I have yet to make a strong opinion of Leto in the titular role. He acted as an excessive second villain in the movie, which caused a fair deal of confusion and distraction from the main plot. The Joker seemed a little too intense and one-dimensional for my taste. I won’t blame the actor. Leto took his role seriously and I know a lot of Joker scenes were cut. He could do the iconic villain justice, but first I think he needs a movie all to himself. No other villains. Just Batman and the Joker. He’s a complex character who deserves careful attention.
With all that said, I think DC is still trying to find its footing on the big screen. Pressured by Marvel and the critics as well, DC is desperately searching for a remedy to its blunders. Christoper Nolan’s Batman films were dark, but Zack Snyder made his films too dark. Marvel uses a good touch of humor to lighten the mood, but the humor hasn’t hit its mark for DC. I don’t know what the next film will bring, but the DC characters are likable enough to keep people interested. Whether Snyder finds the remedy or another director takes over, there is no doubt we will see more of our favorite DC heroes.