What is so damn compelling about an antihero?
It seems like this archetype is flooding popular movies, books, and television with their dismissive personality, asinine understanding of proper procedures, and dashing good looks. It is Tony Stark/Iron Man, Deadpool, and Jaime Lannister — characters who act like they’re on the fringe of duty, only to be swept in at the last minute.
It is tough to discern whether our fascination with this character derives from our disinterest in following the genuine hero. Sure, we all love Captain America but even he is starting to thwart the system and run on his own. It isn’t cool to be a part of the righteous cause yet every antihero seems to find their way to it some way or another in some semi-hypocritical twist of fate.
Naturally, this affection for the rebel leads us to Suicide Squad, the latest film from writer/director David Ayer and the newest entry in the half-baked cinematic universe within DC Comics. To call Suicide Squad a movie seems misguided, this product feels more like the conclusion of an acid-trip by a teenager who watched Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool back to back, typed up a comment on the YouTube trailer for Ghostbusters about how “unbangable” each of those ladies were, and then ranted about how the world just doesn’t get how deep Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is.
Suicide Squad is our outcome for promoting an industry catered to the caged infantile adolescent and blows this idea of the engaging antihero out of proportion.
This compilation of trailers for movies we will never see (or even want to) follows a group of super-powered criminals, who have been locked away on life sentences but are given a shot at doing some good by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). She has created a black ops team with the promise to take years off their sentences if they complete the missions. Among the recruits are Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and El Diabo (Jay Hernandez) with Col. Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) appointed by Waller to oversee the squad.
For the first 20-plus minutes of Suicide Squad, we are subjected to a medley of dossiers about each of these bad guys. Besides the fact that it works as an insult to the audience’s intelligence, it also displays the complete lack of guidance or knowledge of basic storytelling skills with random pop songs attempting to evoke emotions towards the various characters and irrelevant plot lines that are introduced to give each one of them a semblance of characterization.
DC has yet to discover that caking on random subplots and “emotional moments” does not lead to a defined character and Suicide Squad may be its worst example yet. Over the course of the movie, the story continues to fluctuate between incomprehensible and comical as it forgets to designate a protagonist until about 30 minutes left and flops between being a dark, gritty punch-first flick and a light and pulpy comic book blockbuster.
There’s no real pleasure for me in tearing down this movie, which still offers an interesting concept. This idea of having a group of villains teaming up to perform black ops missions in order to lessen their jail time worth pursuing in terms of the emotional exploration that could be involved and some of the performances (Smith and Robbie mainly) are much better than this hodgepodge of insanity deserves.
I think the most damning quality of Suicide Squad is how it shows the fear beneath the surface of most studios. The background of the movie has been highly documented by the trades and this uncertainty can be seen on screen. After the 20-minutes of introductions (that mind you, forgets four or five other characters we end up meeting), the movie shifts to the prison and frantically tries to “catch us up” with each hero before introducing the thinly-written villain (played by Cara Delevingne). It then shifts into the actual narrative for the film — the mission — but is so unclear of the ultimate goal or why these team members want to find success that it just exits as clumsily as it began.
The pessimist in me wants to view Suicide Squad as a sign of things to come — if something like Batman v. Superman was the clouds in the distance, this is the storm in full force. No craft was executed during the making of this movie and it is apparent on screen. One could hope that something better is on the horizon for DC and maybe the company is just working through the kinks, but they once again don’t show any glimmers of possibility.
This is a brand built solely on bringing people to movie theater seats with entertaining them as a secondary and optional quality and with Suicide Squad, and its record-breaking opening weekend, they succeeded. This movie feels like they’ve conceded storytelling and craft to Marvel — handing over the reigns with a smirk as they go after the money.
With this choice of word intended, Suicide Squad is the beginning of DC’s rush to the top by any means necessary and they started by sending their suicide squad team to do it. And this is all without mentioning Jared Leto as The Joker…