Once again, critics are split in opinion over a DCCU film. After the world-dividing conflict earlier this year, Critics are set to go against the Fans yet again. Critics are calling Suicide Squad a mess just, if not worse, than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And this time, I have to agree somewhat with the critics.
I may be a Marvel fan, but I adore films of all genres (except horror). Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight franchise reaffirmed that DC could one day be a contender to the Marvel’s film universe. But I have to agree that the DCCU (DC Cinematic Universe) was off to a bad start with the mixed reviews over BvS, and we were all counting on this summer’s Suicide Squad to save it from destruction even before it got started. Directed by David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury), Suicide Squad was thought to be the edgy, fun counterpart to the dark and gritty tone of BvS. What we got is a whole lot of hype and not much of a payout.
When announced by DC a few years ago, everyone thought that this would be DC’s answer to Marvel’s (despite different studios) mature-content, self-satirical, Deadpool, which was released in February this year. Both films would have featured villains or anti-heroes trying to do good, while poking fun at the serious tones portrayed in superhero films in recent years (Captain America: Civil War and BvS). While Deadpool’s portrayal was refreshingly funny and unconventional, Suicide Squad came off with little to no humour we were promised, and for a film that is called Suicide Squad, there is not much of a ‘squad’ vibe to it.
The entire film felt more like a show called “Deadshot and Harley Quinn featuring the other characters”. Of course in Hollywood, the studios make decisions based of bankable box office promises. That is probably why most of the film’s highlight goes to characters like Deadshot, portrayed by blockbuster star Will Smith (Independence Day, I Am Legend), and Harley Quinn, portrayed by rising sex symbol Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Legend of Tarzan). While it is agreeable that Deadshot and Harley Quinn are probably the most recognisable villains for non-comic book fans, there are other characters that could have deserved more on-screen presence too, like Killer Croc, Katana, Captain Boomerang, and El Diablo. Instead what we really got was over-emphasis on backstories of just two characters, instead of the whole idea of them as a ‘Squad’.
One of the draws of the film was the promise of a fun experience with jokes and use of songs in the film, like that the trailers had. Undoubtedly, those bits of jokes and appropriate use of songs to portray a lighter tone seen in the trailers are what you will get from the entire film. The actual film has very little funny parts and the overuse of pop culture songs seem to dilute the selection of a particular tone to the film. Films in the past like Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool proved that using music from a particular period of time (80s and 90s, respectively) helps to determine a certain tone the film wishes to portray. What we get in Suicide Squad was a jump from 80s to modern, from Queen to Kanye West, which are very different tones.
Of course there are highlights from the film that would garner at least some positive points. Viola Davis’ portrayal of Amanda Waller, a remorseless government official charged with responsibility of the Suicide Squad, must be one of the best moments of the film. The film also features the first appearance of Jared Leto’s Joker. Having to follow up with legendary performances from Jack Nicholson (1989’s Batman) the late Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), this is not an easy job to take over. But I have to say that Jared Leto gave a decent portrayal of The Joker, although his limited screen time causes his character to feel much like an easily-forgettable sideshow.
Overall, Suicide Squad did not live up the the hype it promised, instead it became ‘just another film’ of the DCCU. There is nothing special about it, and it does not sit well for the fate of the DCCU. Perhaps, third time’s the charm for DCCU with next year’s Wonder Woman.
UPDATE: There is news that there are much Joker scenes that were cut from the film. But this is no excuse for making too long a film and only to remove parts of it that leaves the final product a mess. DCCU did that once with BvS and its Ultimate Edition, they cannot just justify Suicide Squad‘s lacklustre delivery because of the deleted scenes.