Not the Good Guys.
So, I saw Suicide Squad this week. I’m going to spoiler the heck out of it, so 1.) DC comics fans should go see it, and 2.) stop reading until you get back.
We good? Okay then.
Unlike Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad didn’t try and reinvent its characters (I recently commented somewhere that I enjoyed BvS because I went in expecting to see Frank Miller’s version of both the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel and wasn’t disappointed). Suicide Squad is a show about a bunch of evil supervillains who have been drafted to undertake suicidal missions when only metahumans (or Humans With Extreme Whupass Skills) can do the job. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
So, on that basis, how did it do? Well, I found it entertaining in spots (mainly any scene Harlequin did anything in), and not a waste of my time and money.
But I probably won’t get the DVD.
Which is sad, because it had a lot o potential and overall was very well done. Good casting, good acting, good dialogue, good action. It was good.
But here’s the problem: there wasn’t a single character in the show in whom I could become emotionally invested. There was not one single character who grew in any way because of events. There was no karma for the characters whose bad decisions led to the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of human beings.
And not because there weren’t opportunities. Here’s a few missed ones.
Deadshot: a soulless hitman who has one human moment. He’s captured by Batman because he’s not willing to kill the Dark Knight when his own daughter (who is the only thing he loves) is there to see him do it. His revealed heart’s desire much later in the movie? It’s not to make sure his daughter has a good life; it’s to kill Batman.
Captain Flagg: a soldier dedicated to protecting America no matter the cost or evil required. Except that when he has to choose between keeping EVIL from breaking loose and killing hundreds of people, and keeping his girlfriend safe, he chose his girlfriend.
Amanda Waller: the woman whose ambition is to protect America from metahuman threats any way she must. Except that it’s her actions that directly lead to the world-threatening threat that the Suicide Squad is mobilized to defeat. Along the way, Waller casually sacrifices innocents to ensure that there will be no blowback on her for having done what she did.
Killer Croc: a man-beast condemned by his monstrous appearance, who has rejected humanity because humanity rejected him. Nope. No change; he finished the mission because otherwise he’d die, and he got a wide-screen TV out of it.
Harlequin: willingly driven insane by the Joker, then abandoned to be captured by Batman. Completely loyal to Mr. J from beginning to end, told Diablo (who regretted losing his temper and incinerating his wife and children) to “own it. We’re all monsters here.”
Were there any sympathetic characters in the show? Well, there was the human host of Enchantress (DC’s version of Zule from Ghostbusters). Captain Flagg’s girlfriend, she was a true innocent in the whole mess, but she wasn’t a central character.
So, no strong character arc for anybody; the movie could have overcome that by giving meaning to the conflict. Like the Dirty Dozen fighting the Nazis. Sure they were SOBs, but they were fighting evil SOBs. The fight against evil is ennobling.
Except, as mentioned the Big Bad Threat the bad guys were sent to defeat was instigated by Amanda Waller, who paid no price for all the death she caused (five with her own pistol because “none of them were cleared for any of this.”).
So, it’s merely-human bad guys fighting godlike bad guys, evil vs. EVIL, to end a threat that they themselves created. In the end, nobody changes, nobody grows, and nobody gets what they deserve (which is a bullet for each of them).
But Harlequin was fun to watch, and may be getting her own movie; hopefully in which she can grow. And the action is fun, spiced by witty dialogue, and the Joker was dead-on perfect. So Suicide Squad wasn’t a home run, but it wasn’t a strikeout either. It was a solid swing of Harley’s Good Night Bat, worth the price of admission.