I saw Suicide Squad and it wasn’t as bad as I expected (not a high bar). I’d give it at solid 3 out of 5.
The frustrating thing about the DC Cinematic Universe isn’t that they’re making mediocre movies but that they have so much potential.
Let me say that everything I know about DC is from these movies.
In that vein here are five things that they did wrong, concentrating on story and structure. I’m not going into the bizarre wardrobe choices or racist themes.
5. Not enough death
The movie is called Suicide Squad and only two team members die; one to show the stakes and one to tug on your heartstrings. It had a dark atmosphere with creepy monsters and a distinctly “Survival Horror” feel to it, which made me want to re-watch Pitch Black.
Unfortunately these characters are all precious to DC and they didn’t have the guts to kill any of them off (seems like a trend). There were enough useless characters in this to have left 2-3 plus soldier boy for the big fight and then have only Harley and Deadshot walk away. It would have given the action scenes more bite if we thought these characters could die.
The only non-dramatic death was to prove that the head-nano-bombs could actually kill. It was so predictable that I rolled my eyes. The character had no backstory, he shows up at the last minute with bland coloured clothing and was native. In a movie where the black guy is Will Smith and the Latino has a mysterious backstory. You know the poor native will die. It’s a trope, it’s lazy writing, and it’s borderline racist.
4. Happy Ending
For a movie universe that is supposed to be “Dark and Gritty” following a group of villains, its ending was borderline saccharin.
Sure, I get you need to set up the sequels with Harley and Joker, but almost everyone in this movie got happy endings. Deadshot deserved it, Harley needed it, but soldier boy and witch puppet? Really?
3. Weak Antagonists
If the antagonists (not the villains, those were the protagonists) were any more two dimensional, they’d have tried to papercut everyone to death. The only motivation for them was revenge because the Aztecs (maybe?) turned against them and trapped them in dolls. There was also Amanda Waller being herself which pissed them off.
They were only there to have the Squad do something. They were the traditional Bond / Fantasy overlord. “I will destroy the world in order to rule it!” Even Lex Luthor in BvS had a more nuanced character.
If they wanted something simple, they should have gone for a force of nature or a big dumb animal.
2. Too many characters
The amount of characters and the amount of time spent on some of them was not only self-indulgent but boring. We get it DC, you like these little pieces of intellectual property. The movie spends almost the entire first act in a series of vignettes explaining who each character is and what they do. It made it long and killed any pacing they were going for.
Not all the characters got this special treatment, letting us know they had plot immunity.
Some other characters added literally nothing to the plot (looking at you Katana girl and Boomerang-Dude). If they had any character development it was left on the cutting room floor and awkwardly alluded to.
1. Too much useless information
“With great backstory comes great useless detail.”
There’s a rule in writing called Chekhov’s gun, by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov:
“Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”
Unfortunately the backstories for the characters trumped this rule, several times. It’s as if they decided that the movie was less important than the characters. The witch could be killed by destroying her heart but Amanda Waller didn’t burn the damn thing… Why tell us so many times?
Katana’s sword ate souls but was never used to kill the body possessing entities. Katana’s backstory was completely at odds with her her actions. (Most likely because any character development was axed.)
The Joker and Harley “love” story was pointless backstory that could have been cut for more emotional build up.
All the scenes with the “mean” jailer were pointless. Why have the “Honour Bound Assassin” threaten someone and then let the Joker kill them off screen?
I might be being generous with my 3 out of 5 score but I did have fun despite the issues in the movie.
What did you think of Suicide Squad?