SS was one of the comic book movies that I was looking forward to. Marvel’s ‘Civil War’ was the other one. While I am more of a DC type, that doesn’t mean I am loyal to one company. That being said, I do think that DC should take cues from Marvel on how to sell their characters. From what I see, DC assumes that people automatically care about the characters based on their mythology alone. They are trying to build a franchise without ‘selling’ the character’s mythology. That is how Marvel succeeds. How else can one explain how the popularity of lesser known (at the time) characters like Iron Man and Thor? Marvel has a creative vision that is so air tight, you would suffocate. It’s cohesive enough and they give their characters a personality that it creates enough fans to come back for the next installment. DC does not do this. I think they are embarrassing themselves by blatantly copying Marvel and not paying enough attention to their properties. They are doing just fine in the animation and TV circuit but the movies are bloated with big names, a script that lacks true direction and adding too much ‘quirky’ music. I knew back in 2008 when I first heard the chords of ‘Back in Black’ that a trend was about to start and sadly I was proven right.
I wanted to get that out of my chest before dissecting Suicide Squad. It was one of the movies that I was cautiously optimistic about. After BvS:DoJ, I wanted to give Warner Bros. the benefit of the doubt. That was until I heard that they were doing a reshoot. It didn’t take a creative genius to see that Ayer and company wanted to have their own version of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. I wanted to think that I was wrong and that I was overreacting but a gut feeling told me that WB/DC was not confident enough in its own project. This disappoints me. There are a lot of things one can do with a group of mercenaries. Yes, this an idea that has been tried before but when you have a diverse group of characters, there are plenty of things they could do.
The recent comics have some good ideas. Why they didn’t adapt some, I have no clue. Are DC/WB afraid of being too political because they don’t want to offend a certain demographic? This is where Marvel shined. Recall how in Age of Ultron where Captain America and Black Widow were ‘mouthpieces’ for the childfree. Black Widow’s story was more tragic of the two because she was sterilized by the KGB against her will back when she was an agent for them. Cap on the other hand, ‘represented’ people who chose not to have children. The morons who took Joss Whedon’s tweets way out of context and practically ran him off of Twitter is proof that the studios should not lean on fans on feedback until the product is done. When you sanitize and dilute your product in order to appeal to a potential client’s ego instead of moving them with a story, it tells me a lot of what a company’s priorities really are and the WB/DC demonstrated this in spades with this week’s release.
Before I critique, I want to discuss what I liked.
- I was already a fan of the character from the new Suicide Squad comics but Jay Hernandez portrayal is an example of how to make an unknown character compelling. As an Angeleno and Latina, El Diablo stood out to me but it would take more than those similarities for me to care for him. He is a gangster who wants to reform. He is afraid of his powers and blames himself for the death of his family. Coming from a similar background, I understand his struggle and his desire to do good is commendable. I am not expecting ‘War and Peace’ when it comes to character origins but the least that the writers could do is make them likeable. Make me, as a consumer, care about these fictional characters. I saw a very vague parallel between El Diablo and Scarlet Witch. Both are aware and ashamed of their abilities and want to reform but in the end, they learn to use their powers. The parallels are vague at best but each character had a unique trait that made them stand out. I walked out of the theater hoping that DC would give us a Diablo mini comic or even a series.
2. Amanda Waller as Viola Davis-Loved her in ‘The Help’ and I was curious to see how she would interpret a very head strong and morally questionable character who apologizes to no one. Davis’s portrayal was chilling. Her casual domineering stand out as one of the highlights of the movie. It’s a shame that she reduced to almost a secondary status. I would have loved to have seen more of her and how she justifies her choices other than ‘Because I pay your salary and I have this control and if you piss me off, I will push it and your head will blow off’. Davis killed it but she was thrown on the wayside by too many characters and a boring generic plot.
3. Killer Croc-“I am beautiful”. That line alone should have made Croc a break out star.
What I did not like.
Prepare yourself and get a soda.
1. The Music-I am getting fed up with movies including music from a long time before. Whatever happened to originality? One of the reasons I treasure the Tim Burton Batman films is because of the music. Danny Elfman’s score which Shirley Walker incorporated into Batman The Animated series takes me back to a warm place in time where I didn’t have to worry about paying my bills. The sound tracks today rely on too much nostalgia and I cannot help but wonder if DC (and Marvel) are trying to appeal to hipster millennials who want to have a ‘quirky’ album on their iTunes. Hey, I have a large collection of ‘old’ music (*COUGH* KISS COUGH* Madonna *COUGH* Prince *COUGH*The Jacksons*COUGH*) in my iTunes but some times I crave something new. One of the reasons some of these films don’t fascinate me as they should is because they are trying to be something they are not. They try to rely on nostalgia or ‘quirk’ to make up for a lack of a story or compelling characterization. For example, hearing ‘Fortunate Son’ by CCR while the Squad is in the helicopter. It was compelling in Forrest Gump, not here. Try again.
Hearing a seventeen year old Eminem track on a 2016 movie just doesn’t gel. It’s not bad ass. It’s not edgy. It tries hard to be ‘quirky’. I wouldn’t have had a problem if Em came up with something original for this but to reuse a song that was popular when I was in middle school, a time in my life I want to forget….um, yeah. No. I like the tune itself but I seriously wonder if it was added to appeal to thirty something millennials who were fourteen when this was huge. No. No. No! That was my problem with Guardians of the Galaxy. If I like a movie I get the soundtrack. When I looked at it, I was thinking ‘Are people that musically vacuous?’
Personally, I think they overdid it with the music. I liked a lot of the tunes that I was familiar with but they became the focus of the scene for me. They didn’t ‘enhance’ it or make it memorable. It was just noise to distract and to serve as filter.
2. Harley Quinn-Visually, Margot Robbie nailed the character. She was a highlight of the movie and I couldn’t imagine anyone else. She captured the mix between crazy and sexy perfectly even though I personally prefer the ‘crazy but loveable’ version of the character. I wasn’t too fond of the look but I wanted to reserve judgement until I saw the film. Personality wise, Margot killed it. Aesthetically, I liked it. I am pretty much neutral on this version of her costume. I can see why they didn’t go with her original costume. At the same time, what they were thinking when they had her heels?
While I did enjoy the aesthetics and personality of Margot’s Harley, the script left a lot to be desired. I was very disappointed to see that a lot of the characterization that we have seen in the comics was shoved under the bus only for Harley to be reduced to this love sick fan girl. Not only that but if Arkham security is so tight, how was Harley able to have a cell phone from the Joker? Moreover, any reference of Joker’s abuse to Harley as we have seen in various media was not referred to. EVERYTHING she did, she was doing it for him. As a fam of BOTH these characters, I felt like I was stabbed in the back. Yes, it’s a movie at the end of the day but seeing Harley get reduced to this was disappointing. The creators and artists have done a wonderful job of removing her from this. Now, I have to put up with hearing people say ‘Oh no, it’s not an abusive relationship! They are a dysfunctional couple! You can’t judge them!’ No, just no. As someone who grew up in a dysfunctional household and lived with someone who was emotionally abusive, a fact that I did not come into terms with until very recently, seeing people say this just rubs me the wrong way. Dysfunction is NOT glamorous, dysfunctional behavior is NOT complex or sexy. Harley was admitted into the Asylum because of a bad choice that she made. In the comics and in animation, she has questioned her choices and she has made attempts to reform. We see that she has come a complete 180 in her own comic. Seeing her go back to Joker’s cheerleader.
No, I don’t care that she can give a good whack with her hammer.
I don’t care that she looks hot in a dress and has ‘sexual agency’ or whatever the Hell term the radfems use.
I don’t care that ‘she is crazy and doesn’t give a fuck’.
I don’t care about all this because everything she does she does it for the Joker. This is not the character I fell in love with. This is an avatar for Jared Leto fan girls who want to imagine themselves getting drilled by his Joker in their fanfictions.
3. Joker-This is my least favorite version of the character. In fact, after posting this I am not even going to count it. This Joker looks like something that the execs thought would look threatening. To me, this Joker was inspired by drug cartels and thugs. Oooh, scary! I don’t want to think of Joker as a thuggish pimp. His Joker wasn’t remotely scary. His appearance was underwhelming. Maybe it is media saturation, maybe it is my aesthetic preference but this Joker has nothing notable about him. The only he will be remembered for is being a lovesick puppy. Nicholson’s Joker was casually cruel and he had memorable lines, as cheesey and dated as they were. Ledger’s Joker was an anarchist. This Joker relied on tattoos and grills to look scary. That is not rebellious, that is not edgy. That is derivative. This Joker will go on being remembered for dependent on his girlfriend. By humanizing the Joker, he becomes less scary and this is coming from someone who actually likes the origin story in The Killing Joke. I just don’t buy that one of the most egotistical criminal masterminds and most evil fictional characters would fall in love with the same person he mistreats and for Ayer to ignore that tells me that they care more about pandering to fetishists. To be fair, Margot Robbie did say that she did not understand how a woman could fall in love with a man who treats her as such. I blame Leto for this. I can see why he would inject his personal life onto the character, i.e. the dysfunctional rock star and his groupie. Yawn and boring.
4. Enchantress-Horribly miscast. Cara Delevigne was only cast because of her huge following on Instagram. This is the same person who parties with Taylor Swift. Was I the only one in the theater laughing at the end when she said those ridiculous lines and called Harley ‘My child’?
Count me as one of the disappointed and underwhelmed fans.