As I write this (Friday), the Suicide Squad movie has grossed $318, 779,276 domestically and $413,000,000 internationally for a total worldwide gross of $731,779,276. It’s been playing since the start of August and, in the U.S., it’s still on the top ten list.
It has now out-grossed the first Iron Man film. It has also out-grossed Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, Thor, Ant-Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Incredible Hulk. It has also out-grossed all of the X-Men films, the Wolverine films, and The Amazing Spider-Man films.
And Suicide Squad did not access to the #2 market in the world, China. (Why won’t the Chinese let it in? Beats me.)
It means that not only a lot of people have seen the movie, but many have seen it more than once. (I’ve seen it three times so far but you’d probably guessed that I would.) I know it’s still in at least one movie theater in my remote vicinity.
This is for a film that rates a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I still don’t understand. Did these disapproving critics and fans see the same film I saw? That all these other people saw? Yes, I know it’s not the Citizen Kane of superhero flicks; I know it’s flawed and I could recite some of those flaws. But, as I said before, I’d give it a good solid B. It’s a fun summer popcorn entertainment and it’s just different enough from other superhero films to deserve the attention it gets.
I saw at last one online poster sniff that, yes, it has had a lot of customers but, then, so does McDonalds. I’d hasten to point out that there are food critics who have praised McDonalds french fries. The fact that something is popular does not mean it isn’t good. (Ook. Two negatives in one sentence. Ah well.)
There are things that are different in the Squad film – I heard one millennial cite the coloring, the use of music, the pacing, and the central idea of bad guys being made to do “good” (“good” being a relative term). It is something different.
It’s something that the younger generation seems to be hooking into. The ad calls them the Worst. Heroes. Ever. – and they are. You wind up rooting for them anyway. As twisted as it is, the central romance in the film is Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. The film is a different take on the superhero genre.
Look, I’m not going to try and tell people that their opinion of the film is wrong. They react according to who they are and how the film strikes them. I might suggest, however, that they might want to give it another chance. Sure, I’m biased and, yes, I have a (tiny) vested interest in the Squad’s success but I think the movie might be better than some people give it credit for.
So get a ticket, grab some popcorn, and meet me at the Cineplex while the Suicide Squad is still playing. I’m ready to go see it again.
No one can deny Geek Culture has gotten bigger, broader and more mainstream. It’s cool to know about comics and comic characters’ history. It’s now cool to wear shirts with superhero images no matter what your age. And even mainstream retailer Bed Bath and Beyond is getting into the act, borrowing the soon-to-be unveiled Captain America statue for the grand opening of a new store before it makes a permanent home in Brooklyn.
Just a few short years ago, telling the world at large that you were planning to attend the San Diego Comic-Con was met with eye rolls and snickers. Now that very same travel announcement is invariably met with envy, excitement and the inevitable “You’re so lucky! Can you get me a Dr. Strange poster?”
This all leads us to the excitement and unique fan passion for the new Suicide Squad movie. I don’t think it’s all about that mainstream geek passion. It’s something different.
A Different Passion
Now, as a long time fan, I’ve dragged my family to many fan-focused movies. They’ve always been great sports, but my daughters never really caught the bug. They’d sit through a superhero movie, eat popcorn with dad, and then promptly move onto the next thing after the show was over. Oh, they’d always find cool superhero presents for old dad for birthdays and holidays, but that was just them being kind rather than being passionate fans.
So you can imagine my surprise when my middle daughter, Tessa (who just graduated from college a year ago and is working in New York City) said “Hey Dad, what’s this Suicide Squad about? Maybe we should go see that.” I wasn’t sitting down when she said that, but if I had been, I would’ve fallen off out of my chair.
Who They Are And How They Came To Be
The Suicide Squad was a DC comic series that debuted with a half-hearted tryout as spy-espionage series. It really took off in the mid-80s when it was rebooted as comics’ version of The Dirty Dozen. Some of my favorite comic creators were behind this incarnation: John Ostrander, Kim Yale, Mike Gold, Luke McDonnell, Karl Kesel, Robert Greenberger and more.
More recently, the Suicide Squad bolted on one of the most popular new comic characters, Harley Quinn. At the core of it, she’s the Joker’s insane girlfriend, but she’s grown to be so much more. She’s kind of like the comic version of Chelsea Handler mixed with the irreverent, bisexual Bugs Bunny. She’s fresh, effervescent and lot of fun.
And today’s Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad seem to stand for something special, and passionate fans are embracing and protecting it all. As the ultimate “bad boys/girls” of the superhero world, the Suicide Squad members are edgy and frightening. They are poor role models for kids. But I think that in many ways, they represent a mindset that so many fans have.
These characters certainly aren’t super-characters like Captain America. They don’t make all the right choices and they don’t do heroic things. They’re grungy and disrespectful. Authority figures despise them, but they are very comfortable with who they are.
And they co-opted the prettiest girl in the class as one of their own. Margot Robbie, a stunning actress who gave us all a reason to sit through the failed caper movie, Focus, plays Harley Quinn. She’s scary and insane and riveting in every trailer. It’s as if America’s Sweetheart (Spoiler alert: She’s not really American) started hanging out with the bad kids in high school.
All of this was thrown into a Geek Culture pot and stirred until it became a fresh stew of validation, alienation, and a unique kind of anti-establishment celebration.
Don’t Stomp On Someone Else’s Validation
And that’s whey when early movie reviews started slamming the movie, faithful Suicide Squad fans rushed to the movie’s defense… before they could even see the movie. Some fans tried to turn the tables on Rotten Tomatoes as payback for dissing their movie, and by proxy, dissing what these fans hold dear and their opportunity for validation.
Not everyone gets it, of course. Slate, that mostly-political site, scratched their head in a story all about the authentic and creative Suicide Squad licensed merchandise on sale at Urban Outfitters. You could almost hear the (usually hip) Slate shaking an aged fist and grumbling “You damn kids, get offa my industry of licensed movie products!”
Geek Culture has grown big – and now the tent is so big that there are areas within it for so many different groups. The Suicide Squad represents another unique segment, and they are vociferously passionate about what’s important to them.
In the holiday classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Yukon Cornelius famously tells his friends “Even among misfits, you’re misfits.” And as many comic nerds have become the cool kids, they’ve left behind many who feel disenfranchised. Or, more accurately, some who feel disenfranchised.
That’s why I believe Suicide Squad is making a connection. It’s telling those who aren’t sitting at the cool kids table that they have value. They are unique. They are special and here’s a movie for you. And many folks just don’t hear that much or certainly not enough.
This isn’t really “my 80s Suicide Squad” – and I don’t think it should be.
But I am excited that so many of the creators* can see what their ideas have become on the big screen.
And I’m really excited that folks who dig arm bands and shop at Hot Topic and may feel like misfits amongst society’s beautiful people have a summer superhero movie all their own. And that we can all enjoy.
And I hope it becomes a franchise.
*One aside: Kim Yale, a trailblazing comics writer who worked on so many Suicide Squad stories, passed away years ago. She gone but she’s far from forgotten. NPR just did a wonderful piece on her and you can give it a listen here.
I usually try to avoid reading reviews of movies before I go see them but the explosion of negativity that came out as soon as the embargo dropped last week made it utterly impossible to see Suicide Squad completely untainted. Combined with some scheduling snafus that kept me from seeing the film until Monday morning I walked into the theater with a strong preconception that this was going to be a bad movie. And it was— Suicide Squad is a bad movie, but it isn’t the end of western cinema, it isn’t the worst superhero movie ever made, it isn’t even the worst superhero movie released this year from Warner Bros that Ben Affleck is in. At some points it’s even endearingly bad, the kind of movie that could end up with a cult following. I doubt it will because of all the times it’s just a bland kind of bad and the crushing weight of the perpetual DC cinematic failures, but there are traces of a spark here.
Suicide Squad is an aggressively bland movie. Everything but Harley Quinn seems to be colored in various shades of grey or, at best, muted colors. The sets are drab and the exteriors are very obviously studio back lots pumped in with a smoke machine. Even the most common bad guys are an endless supply of vaguely human cannon fodder made out of black goo. There’s no personality to the environments, the objectives, or most of the characters. I just can’t care about this team of warriors killing wave after wave of generic nothing henchmen to foil an evil plot that looks menacing, but has no established stakes until the movie is 90% over. I get that the government has a vested interest in not having mysterious interdimensional entities establishing swirling vortexes above major cities, but if you don’t tell me what it does it becomes entirely generic.
Even if Suicide Squad were, somehow, a more interesting movie it wouldn’t save it because it’s a stunningly misogynist and racist movie. I might be at odds with some others in the comics community by saying this but I never thought Harley Quinn started as a particularly progressive character. She got there when they teamed her with Poison Ivy and there have been more and less good depictions of her over the years but this is definitely a bottom-of-the-barrel portrayal. Harley is a living breathing failure of the Bechdel Test because literally every action she takes is about a man, usually The Joker but sometimes Deadshot. It’s challenging to give this critique because Margot Robbie does such a good job taking the poorly-written character she’s given and wringing every bit of character she can out of it. There’s a moment where she turns to bow when she exits a scene that I swear is frame-for-frame perfect with an appearance on Batman: The Animated Series and that’s quite a commitment to the character.
If we want to hit sexism and racism in one character it would be in El Diablo. I’m not familiar with this version of the character at all, he must be from after my time as a regular comic book reader, but I sincerely hope that he has origins more distinct than this Mexican gangster caricature. It’s like David Ayer learned five things about Mexican gangs when he was writing Training Day and decided that he would put those things in every movie he wrote from then on. The movie also very much wants us to believe that El Diablo is the real victim of the time he got mad and incinerated his entire family in a scene that was several notches over my comfort zone in terms of similarity to real-world domestic violence. I understand that they’re trying for a metaphor here, but there’s basically no way the family man character they expect me to believe Deadpool is would be cool with what El Diablo did. Oh, and when El Diablo gets to his most powerful level, he inexplicably turns in to a giant flaming Aztec caricature, it’s very strange juxtaposed with his seemingly Catholic world view up until then. It’s as if they decided if they treated Will Smith and Viola Davis well, they could just do the rest of their minority characters as rough ethnic sketches.
I suppose I can’t get out of this without talking about Jared Leto’s performance as The Joker because of how it dominated the hype campaign for this movie despite being a vanishingly small part, all things considered. Leto does not do good work. He seems to be doing an impression of Heath Ledger’s performance from The Dark Knight but with all of the subtlety replaced by the kind of grunting you would get if you asked a 12 year-old what sex sounded like. He’s easily the worst live action depiction of the character, but you can tell that every time they called “cut” he was convinced that he nailed it. There are good acting performances in this movie, I’ve already shouted out Robbie, and think Viola Davis deserves kudos for taking a part that in another era would have faded in to the background and created one of the scariest characters in a movie that includes a crocodile monster. Will Smith is also doing good work, although we’re clearly getting “action movie” Will Smith and not “actually trying his hardest” Will Smith, but it doesn’t matter. Smith is a sublime talent as a movie star because he makes action nonsense seem serious and he nails the quiet moments as well as the funny ones.
At this point I don’t know what needs to change at DC Entertainment before they start putting out movies that aren’t dreary disasters. I suppose they would have to stop making quite so much money, but they hold their opening weekend numbers very badly and the critical derision has got to hurt especially when Marvel puts out bigger numbers and gets better reviews. I’ve heard over and over that there are shakeups internally and that things are going to get better, but it never does. The Comic Con footage of Justice League looked good but after seeing this and Batman v Superman how am I supposed to believe that the people who signed off on those movies even have any idea what a good movie looks like? It’s time for a change, but does anyone who could make that change care as long as the money comes in?
Warning! Danger! Spoilers! I saw the movie, I’m going to talk about the movie, there may be some plot spillage. Yadda yadda yadda.
As we start, I think you should know my biases. I think you should know any critics’ bias. Myself, I use them mostly as consumer reporters. If I find a critic whose tastes largely coincide with mine, I tend to trust them more. The late great Roger Ebert was one. Knowing who is giving you their opinion is important; what does their opinion matter if you don’t trust them?
Regarding the Suicide Squad movie, well, I’m biased. I’m prejudiced. I have a vested interest in its success. I want it to succeed. However, if I didn’t like it, I’d be more likely just to keep my trap shut.
My trap is open.
I really liked the film. Not perfect by a long shot, but a really good time in the movie theater. And for me a lot of it was just amazing. The look, the detail, the feel of the film is not something I’ve seen in superhero movies before.
Chief for me were the performances, starting with Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. All the other characters in the Squad, both the comic and the movie, were created by others. In the comic especially I would re-define and expand on them but they were established characters. Amanda Waller was my creation and Viola Davis embodied her to perfection. I was happy when she was cast, I was delighted when I saw her in the trailers, and I was ecstatic when I saw her in the film. Davis has Amanda’s voice, her look, and her attitude. I was delighted at the after-party when I got a chance to see her face-to-face and tell her how much I enjoyed her performance.
Next up is Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She is sexy, innocent, funny, lethal, crazy and dangerous. And she’s a thief – she steals just about every scene she’s in.
Let’s look at Will Smith as Deadshot. Some folks have objected that he’s not my Deadshot. No, he isn’t and that’s just fine by me. My Deadshot was not the character as he had been created or portrayed prior to my appropriating him for the Squad. Gail Simone’s version was not exactly my version either. You don’t expect two actors who play the same character in different versions to be identical so why expect those versions in different stories to be identical? Smith did a great job – intense, cynical, with a weak spot for his daughter (although I thought their last scene together had a disturbing element). Smith is a fine actor and one of the world’s biggest stars; he sure as hell wasn’t slumming here and he made Deadshot his own – which is exactly what he was supposed to do.
Last paragraph, I talked about you wouldn’t expect two actors playing the same character in different stories to give identical performances. That really applies to Jared Leto as the Joker. He crafted an entirely new version of the character from the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal in The Dark Knight. That’s absolutely necessary and it’s a different look. Like Pygmalion, he creates a woman that he can love; in this case, it’s Harley Quinn. If we accept his love for her (and her love for him) as genuine, does that make him less of a sociopath? Ledger’s Joker loved no one except, perhaps, Batman. He’s no less strange or deadly but his entire plotline revolves around being re-united with Harley.
Jay Hernandez has a significant role as Diablo and I would have liked to see more of the character. He has a terrific and horrifying back-story but this is a character who is trying to do good even as (I think) he believes he is beyond redemption.
Likewise, I would have liked to see more of Jai Courtney as Boomerang. As Christopher Walken says of cowbell, you can never have too much Boomerang. He’s very much as I wrote him in the Squad – he knows what he is and he likes it. In that respect, Boomerang is very well adjusted. Which is scary.
There’s a surprising theme running through the movie; there is a lot about love. Joker and Harley’s love, yes; Deadshot’s love for his daughter; Diablo’s love (and guilt and remorse) for his family; Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman)’s love for June Moone (Cara Delevingne) while June’s alter ego, the Enchantress, appears to love her brother. Katana (Karen Fukuhara) loves her dead husband and carries his soul in her blade (OK, a lot of the relationships are not the healthiest in this film). Even with Amanda there’s a brief phone call and there’s tenderness and love for whoever she’s speaking with. Love shapes and forms a lot of the characters and they, in turn, mold the story.
Are their problems with the film? Sure. The antagonist(s) are not well defined and, to my mind, you need a good antagonist to help define the protagonist(s). It’s the antagonist who usually sets the plot in motion and it is defined by what they want. The story is a little more generic “we have to save the world” than I usually did; I always liked having one foot squarely in reality.
I also liked having a political and/or social edge in my Squad stories. That would also give a greater feel of reality and I don’t see that here.
That said, my artistic DNA is all over the place. This is The Dirty Dozen with supervillains and that’s my concept. They did that and did it well.
I know some of the critics, both in print and online, do not like the movie. That’s okay; everyone has a right to their own opinion even when it’s wrong. My problem is that, at least with some of the media reviews, is that the critic is also tired of superhero and “tentpole” films and, overtly or covertly, would like to see their end. Look, I get it – they have to see all the films out there and they must be tired of all the blockbusters.
If every superhero film is not The Dark Knight, they’ll bitch. I think that’s going on here to a certain degree. Just as I came prepared to love the movie, they came prepared to hate it.
My late wife, Kim Yale, was a movie critic for a while for a small suburban newspaper in the Chicago area and I went with her to some of the movie screenings. Don’t tell me that some of the critics didn’t come with pre-conceived attitudes to some films. I know better. I saw and heard it.
As for some of the online haters – if a film doesn’t fit their pre-conceived notion, it is wrong. Female Ghostbusters, a black Deadshot, Ben Affleck as Batman (Affleck, by the way, does cameos as both Batman and Bruce Wayne in Suicide Squad and is terrific) – these are all sins and must be decried.
Give me a fucking break.
Look, you can be the most important critic on Suicide Squad. In this case, your voice is your money. You decide if you want to see the movie and then go. If you like it, tell others. I guess you could also tell them if you didn’t like it but you don’t have to. I won’t mind.
If the film is financially successful (and, from what I’ve seen as this review is being written, it’s on track for a pretty good opening weekend), then Warners will be encouraged to do a sequel. And I hope they do. They made a good film this time and I believe they’ll do it even better next time around.
This is not a review of Suicide Squad, the latest movie that pisses off the critics. John deserves first crack at that, and you’ll see it in his regular space here at ComicMix this Sunday. And Arthur does his weekly review thing, and I wouldn’t usurp his turf. And I’ll bet our pal Robert gets a few comments in well before the home video release. Yeah, I’ll offer a few opinions here, but after reading the inner-most thoughts of so many of those professional movie reviewers I feel a strong desire to pull the bedsheet off of the painting.
Here’s the bird’s eye lowdown: the professional movie critics are sick and tired of superhero movies. Be warned – no matter what’s up there on the screen, the critics have wandered out of the theater in search of Elvis. Capes and cowls are crap. Enough is enough. Screw you, Robert Downey Junior.
Suicide Squad is not the Gone With The Wind of superhero flicks, and after Batman v Superman and The Killing Joke, it probably seems better to me than it should. Yeah, there’s too many people in it: without them, you can’t establish a squad. There’s one completely unnecessary supervillain plotline, which seems to be the hallmark of recent DC-based adaptations. Big deal. Suicide Squad belongs to three of the most compelling characters in contemporary comics: Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller, and The Joker. And The Joker is only there to establish why Harley is Harley – and Harley is… complicated.
Here’s my big review: if you pull the stick out of your ass before it, and you, plump down into your popcorn-littered seat, you just might have fun.
Suicide Squad the movie is fun. It’s not Deadpool type fun, although the first DC/Marvel movie crossover should be Harley Quinn Meets Deadpool. Yeah, I don’t think that will happen either.
If you’re a movie critic or a professional Internet crank, “fun” doesn’t pay the rent. Critics’ vitriol should be measured the way most guys measure their penis, confusing inches with millimeters. The genre is not done. The genre has been with us since Douglas Fairbanks Senior first donned Zorro’s mask. Costumed heroes are a movie staple. If the earth didn’t open up and swallow those theaters playing Batman v Superman, the genre is safe.
Pick up a newspaper. Read about Donald Trump. The zika virus. ISIS. Killer cops. Hurricanes and tornados. Mongo crashing into Earth. After all that, trust me, Suicide Squad is a fun movie worthy of your time and your need to relax after all that heavy lifting.
Superhero movies have been with us for 100 years and, whereas the current fad will lessen eventually, they will be with us for the next 100 years.
On August 1, the Suicide Squad movie premieres in NYC and I’ll be there. I’ve watched the trailers and the hype and, I must say, I’m hyped up. From everything I can see, David Ayer (the writer/director) and the cast have read my work on the Squad comic and are using it. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller especially seems pulled from what I did and for me personally that’s very exciting.
I don’t expect the film to be a direct translation of the comic; this is a different medium and has different needs. I love my fans a lot but there’s not enough of them to fill a single theater for a week. The movie has to appeal to those who never heard of the comic. However, in its DNA, this is the Squad I created. At its core is the concept of The Dirty Dozen with supervillains. That was my concept. Amanda Waller was my creation. So – yeah, that’s my Squad up there.
The Squad as a comic and I suspect as a film will also reflect, to a certain degree, some of my sensibilities. The main one will be the moral tones of gray. For a long time, despite being in four colors, comics were very black and white. There were Heroes (white) and Bad Guys (black) and the Good Guys beat up the Bad Guys. Comics were very primal in their Good Vs. Evil.
I don’t see things like that and I don’t write that, especially with the Squad. With the Squad, the bad guys are forced to “do good,” with that “good” defined by Amanda Waller who herself is morally very gray. Even the “heroes” who went along to keep the Squad in line were themselves compromised morally, often just by being associated with the Squad. They had their own problems. No one was 100% good – or 100% bad either.
That’s how I see people so that is how I must write them if I am to write honestly. Shakespeare has Hamlet say
I am myself indifferent honest;
but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
were better my mother had not borne me. . .
I think that’s true of all of us. We are all only indifferent honest.
These days that may not be a popular view. There’s a lot of black and white thinking out there. People are viewed in black and white terms; issues are defined in black and white terms. Too often discussions these days start from the premise “I’m right and you’re wrong.” Politics and religion are prime culprits in this but fandom can be the same way. Example: when Wil Smith was cast as Deadshot some people were outraged – the film was going to suck because Deadshot wasn’t white. No discussion was allowed.
I can go that route as much as anyone. I really don’t like Donald Trump and I’m not prepared to reconsider it. I don’t understand people who are in his corner; I find him to be a dangerous megalomaniac. However, my job as a writer to to find a way to understand him and his supporters. Where is something like them, like Trump, in me? If I wanted to write a Trump-like character and not make him just a cartoonish buffoon (well, any more of a cartoonish buffoon than he already is), I have to find those parts of myself that resonate with him, with them.
Once, in Wasteland, I wrote a story from the perspective of a serial killer. I wanted the reader to identify with him, to find out where he lived in them so first I had to find those points in myself. That took me to some very creepy places but, I think, the story worked. From what I’ve read, Jared Leto felt he had to do something like that to play the Joker in the Squad film. It’s a weird contradiction – you have to use empathy to create a character without empathy. And then I ask the reader to go there as well.
Ultimately, with the Squad stories I wrote, I asked the readers to identify with the villains. As Will Smith’s Deadshot says in one of the trailers, “Don’t forget – we’re the bad guys.” If the film works (and I think it’s going to), it will ask the audience to identify with these “bad guys” – just as we did in the comic.
Hopefully, we will all be uncomfortably entertained.
As a movie critic I believe I am obligated by law to review Focus through the lens of what it means for Will Smith’s career: if we have finally reached the end of the dark ages after almost eight years of films that were both critical and financial mixed bags. I might even tell you that we are back at the peak of the mountain we haven’t seen since I Am Legend and that we have our unquestioned biggest movie star in the world returned to us from the exile of After Earth and Men In Black 3. This isn’t that triumphant return; Will Smith is good but not extraordinary in a movie that will never be a blockbuster nor is it a critical darling. Focus is a perfectly serviceable crime movie that feels confined by a lack of ambition and, perhaps, a lack of budget.
It’s hard to classify Focus, because it is honestly unlike any crime movie I’ve ever seen before. (more…)
Hello movie lovers! Tis I, Marc Alan Fishman, resident ComicMix snark-do-well. I figured I might as well get at least a day out from the legendary John Ostrander on the topic that most presently has the comic book fanboys all a flutter. What’s that, you say? The recently announced Suicide Squad movie from DC Entertainment now has a cast? Well, what better to do then but react to each of the specific castings of the sinister sextet of seriously spiteful sinners.
Jared Leo as The Joker
I know what everyone is thinking. “Boo! Hiss!” they cry. Well, not me. Casting the clown prince of crime with yet-another slightly slick looking actor, with plenty of dramatic chops, seems apropos. Look kiddos. When they announced Heath Ledger, the outcry could be heard for miles around the Internet. All up until footage started leaking in dribs and drabs. And then when The Dark Knight debuted, every nerd with no-good in their hearts shut their yaps at light speed. Ledger’s Joker was a performance that will never be replicated. But with Requiem For A Dream, Dallas Buyers Club, and several smaller parts in good movies, Jared Leto is honestly not a bad choice. But, put a pin in that, because I’m going to wrap up everything with a nice neat bow before we’re done today.
Will Smith as Deadshot
Well, I think this comes as the shocker, no? Will Smith is a conundrum of an actor. Sometimes, he hits them out of the park. Lead roles in Men In Black, Ali, Independence Day and countless others cement him as being more than capable of balancing humor with a serious side. Of course for every spark in his IMDB file, it comes balanced by serious fizzles of failure. Hancock, After Earth, and Wild Wild West do plenty to make me waiver on how this casting catches me. Suffice to say I could care less about the issue of Floyd Lawton being black. What I’ll care about most is if the script calls for a equal amount of cocky humor with deadpan deliveries in between.
Tom Hardy as Rick Flagg
Dude. It’s Bane being the badass good guy. And there’s almost no chance he’ll have an indecipherable accent and a mask covering his mouth! Count this one as being just fine by me.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn
Hmm. Really? I don’t know if I’m skittish more because Ms. Robbie hasn’t been in anything I’ve personally seen, or because we’ve already hit on the fact that The Joker is in the picture. No offense, but when the two of these kooks share a screen, Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin have set the precedent. Call me a closet cheerleader for good roles for men and women, but something about having this twosome announced makes me hope that Leto is in and out, allowing for a Harley that’s allowed to be more than something nice to look at.
Jai Courtney as Boomerang
What, he couldn’t be a captain? Damnit. Mr. Courney’s resume is very action-heavy. So it bodes well that the once laughable Digger may have a bit more of an edge to him. That being said, if the dude is still hurling boomerangs, no amount of black leather and cool one liners will quell a common moviegoer.
Cara Delevingne as Enchantress
Ms. Delevinge is too new an actress for me to know whether she can play an uncouth sorceress supreme. As with everyone else announced here, I’m less worried about the name attached to the role as much as the role itself.
You see, John Ostrander’s original series pitted C-Listers on missions that could easily wipe them from continuity. I highly suggest you go read his run, if you haven’t already. Looking over this announced cast – complete with three known names – begs me to ask the heavier questions beyond the frivolous. The Suicide Squad comprised of well-seasoned villains, as played by the likes of Leto, Smith, and Hardy, feels like “suicide” isn’t anywhere in the game plan. More to the point, if you believe The Joker has a chance at biting it on the big screen then you don’t know good business. Hmm, given DC’s track record now and again, maybe he will die.
The key to Suicide Squad being a success lay firmly in the hands of the writers. As a comic book fan and writer, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how one would ever choose The Joker to be on anyone’s team. And will the desire to give Will Smith a few too many quips come to pass? And isn’t the Enchantress a bit overpowered for a team consisting of muggles?
On top of this, rumor has it that Lex Luthor will be making an appearance. Hmm. A known Superman, Batman, Flash, and Wonder Woman villain all being united for a team. Seems like the through-line to Justice League is right here.
At the end of the day, all I personally care about is a good story. If the characters are presented in a form agreeable to their pulpy roots, I don’t mind how modern things need to be presented. With a trio of powerhouse actors on board, there’s no lack of talent. But there’s something to be said about having too much of a good thing. With a bloated cast (remember in addition to the sixth known cast members, and Luthor… there’s also Amanda Waller, as well as whatever heroes may exist in the flick) and seriously over-qualified villains leading the charge, color me holding my breath this picture doesn’t chomp down on the cyanide pill long before the ending coda is playing to an empty theater.