In Defense of ‘Suicide Squad’

In the past, a couple of us here at The Cosmic Circus have taken it upon ourselves to come to the defense of certain movies and creative decisions that are looked on negatively by a lot of people. I tackled Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2, and more recently Brian and Uday approached the depiction of Taskmaster in the new Marvel Studios film Black Widow. Well, today I’ve decided to tackle a whole new beast —

In Defense of Suicide Squad

Now more than ever I think it’s important for me to make this very clear — in no way is my intention to invalidate criticism or pretend that this movie can’t be critiqued. My goal is merely just to help people see the good in something that is widely perceived as bad. Now, let’s have a little fun. 

The relentless soundtrack, poor editing, and muddled story aside — this movie has some extremely strong parts about it. I like to imagine it as a complex jigsaw puzzle that someone didn’t put together quite correctly. But, my job here is to look at the good pieces, and the best piece of this movie is hands down the casting.

All-Star Cast

Just looking at the cast list on IMDb, it is a who’s who of Hollywood stars: Viola Davis, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Ike Barinholtz, David Harbour, Common, Jai Courtney, Cara Delivigne, and on and on and on. Just the names alone are enough to raise an eyebrow, but seeing them actually interact and play off each other on screen is a genuine treat.

Will Smith carries this movie as Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot. His character is a simple one, motivated by his daughter from beginning to end. They also have an interesting dynamic between him and Joel Kinnaman’s military man, Rick Flagg. Floyd and Flagg are constantly bickering back and forth about each other’s morals; Floyd believes Flagg is lying and Flagg thinks Floyd is nothing but a “…serial killer who takes credit cards.”

The dynamics of these great actors are fun to watch, even if the content they are given to work off of is lacking. The same can be said for Jai Courtney and Viola Davis as Captain Boomerang and Amanda Waller. Though they don’t have a dynamic like Flagg and Floyd — or share much dialogue at all for that matter — the two actors and characters are similar to them by way of doing their best with the content given. The same can be said for the entire secondary cast of this film. Even without much to work with, they give it their all and the movie is infinitely better for it.

I’d be crazy not to mention the star of this film: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Even people who don’t enjoy this movie can admit that Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is the best thing to happen since Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. When talking about perfectly cast comic book characters, this one deserves to be at the top of every list. Not only has Margot Robbie received unanimous praise for this role, but she has become synonymous with the character, and even recently produced a film for the character to star in.

Just like smoke and fire, where there’s a Harley Quinn, there’s a Joker. Boy does this movie have a Joker. I think, based on just general perception, I am in the minority when I say that I enjoy Jared Leto and David Ayer’s interpretation of the character. I know that it’s something that is so bizarrely different, but this might be a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” If they try to emulate that of Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger, they’d more than likely be hacked apart for being unoriginal. But they clearly took the completely opposite direction here, and I definitely enjoyed seeing Joker as something closer to a “cartoonish thug” than a 50’s gangster or maniacal genius again.

Aesthetic & Style

When talking about Harley Quinn and Joker, I think that they perfectly resemble the aesthetic of this movie, and it’s one that I really love. I know that it gets plenty of jokes and comments thrown its way for being basically the perfect symbol of the vibes of the inside of a Hot Topic in your local mall, but I feel like there is still a lot to love here. I adore the contrast of neon colors on the backdrop of a dark gritty city. It almost feels like a twist on the tone of Batman v Superman, which came out only 5 months before Suicide Squad.

Let’s Get Candid

I know that this one might have been a bit all over the place, and I’m sorry if that’s the case. But I want to be honest: giving this movie a re-watch today, I enjoyed it far less than I ever had before. I’m not lying about any of the things I mentioned here in this article — I did enjoy those parts, but this entire movie is butchered by its editing. It feels like the victim of a bigger problem, so I want to take this opportunity to educate you about something that happened during the production of this film.

According to this article posted by THR on August 3rd, 2016 (2 days BEFORE the film’s wide release), Warner Bros felt that Suicide Squad had all the pressure on its shoulders. After Batman v Superman’s poor reception, they felt that this film was very important for maintaining DC’s brand trust with their audience. They feared that DC might be in danger of falling out of relevancy. Looking back, the notion was ridiculous, but it led to some reactionary moves by the studio execs.

These execs seemed to have thought that because the film’s trailer was so popular, the editors responsible for the trailer should try to replicate that success and edit the film. I’m unsure if that was actually the cut that was released, but the film does feel like one long trailer for a different film. I don’t want to preach to anyone, and I definitely am not excusing any of the mistakes this movie made, but I just want to educate you on WHY some of those mistakes might have been made. It’s a shame too, because like I said before, this movie feels like a giant jigsaw puzzle that isn’t put together correctly. While watching, I felt like there was a movie buried in there begging to be seen.

All that said and done, there is a bright future ahead. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad comes to theaters and HBO Max simultaneously on August 6th, and the movie has received great praise from critics so far. There is a lot to look forward to in the DC Universe coming up, and I am definitely going to be sitting in the front row on opening night.

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