This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but here it goes…. Spoilers Ahoy…
I really liked Jared Leto as the Joker.
He was different from Nicholson and Ledger, and his characterization fit into the world of Suicide Squad. The “Vat of Hot Topic” actually worked for him in the film. I went into the theater expecting to be pissed off by his character, and was surprised that I loved the “Gangster Joker” characterization. The only aspect that I was disappointed in was the lack of his screen time. He was used to sell the film, and he was hardly in it (enough to set up Harley, but that was it.) I completely understand why Leto was cheesed by the film. All of the advertisements made his character seem more important than he was. He was a red herring in the adverts. He was nothing more than a means to an end.
It also helped that I saw the film during Toronto’s Fan Expo in a big theater.
I loved the visuals in the film. I loved the stylistic choices made. The subversive gangster, graffiti look, and the synthwave sounds. It was so different from everything else Warner Brothers has made for DC as a major motion picture. It was about time they got past the “realism” that has been holding the DC film franchise back. Suicide Squad up the ante for comic related “wtf is going on” moments. The film was colourful as well as the dark and brooding that DC has made a staple in their films. Realism equals dark and brooding. It felt like it never took itself too seriously. I love the juxtaposition of the dark reality with the colourful characters.
It is about DAMNED TIME they had a film that understood it’s roots enough to just lay all of their chips out and blow up the table. It helped a lot that they FINALLY found a female lead, and wrote her right. Harley isn’t a man-hating Amazon, or a tough as nails burglar, she is a psychotic and emotionally damaged villain that the audience is grounded with during the very out of the world scenario. Who brings a bat to a magic fight?
I will stab anyone in the eye who thinks Margot Robbie wasn’t perfect as Harley Quinn. Even if she didn’t have her classic harlequin unitard on they made reference to it (she held it up to herself after getting her clothes back.) Every time she said “Puddin” I thought of the 90s Batman and her original character. I cannot fathom anyone else as Harley now, and await her solo film. She can carry a whole film on her own. She is the reason I want to watch this again. Her chemistry with Joker was top notch and really sold the character.
Deadshot was actually really good too. I was unsure about Will Smith being in this film, as his films have been hit or miss recently for me. Even Men In Black was starting to lose it’s “Je ne sais quoi”. Anti-hero seems to works for him more than any other role. He wasn’t over the top “Will Smith playing as…” I hope that Will and Margot return for another Suicide Squad, as their chemistry really sold the film, more so than Harley and Joker. I am still unsure how I feel about his backstory though. The whole “I’m doing this for my spawn” is rather overdone, not only in comics, but in films. I did like that his daughter was entirely unfazed by his profession, and in fact embraced it as part of who he was.
I am not a huge DC nerd, I read the comics from time to time, and have seen 85% of all DC related media, but I went in not knowing all of the characters. El Diablo totally surprised me. Holy SHIT. That last battle scene with Incubus (Enchantress’ brother) was a level of mysticism that I didn’t expect from the film. Yes even with Enchantress’ glowing tornado of doom, and after she released Destroyer… I mean… Incubus. “God” versus “God.” It was beautiful to watch, and I held my breath watching it. Man of Steel should have had a battle like this, and it only lasted a few minutes. By far the best scene in the film. The build up to him going Super Saiyan was immense and was not a disappointment.
Slipknot is a brilliant backhand for the story to develop. To be honest, I thought Waller was bluffing. I expected something to happen though, given that his character was left out of most advertisements for the film. It wasn’t a huge shock. He didn’t even get a backstory.
Captain Boomerang, as with Harley, was a great method for grounding the film, and you understood why someone who wasn’t “special” would want to run away at the first opportunity. They are dealing with powers no one in the DCMU has faced before. He throws a giant stick. I did feel like he was a fifth wheel to the story at many points, and when he talked it was a “oh right he has to say something from time to time.”
Killer Croc. I like his look, but to be honest his prosthetics and costume choice reminded me a lot of Electro in Spiderman 2. It seems that every hero or villain that has a power, that alters their body to the point of monstrosity, feels the need to wear hoodies. There are only so many times when watching a comic film with Grimm, or Croc or whomever is struggling with how their bodies look, wear the same outfits and it just gets boring.
Katana seemed almost out of place in the narrative. She is a good guy, and even if she is out for revenge, being around all of these villains seemed like a sharp contrast. She was never really part of the team at any point in the story, she just followed them around to ensure they did their job. Although it was explained in the film why she is part of the group, the advertisements didn’t really help this come across, so by the time she was in the film, I was disappointed by her lack of presence. This is after all a film about the villains, and Katana is not a villain, so her character took a backseat in most of it.
The Enchantress is by far the best designed character in the film. The way the film had her dual personality manifest by far my favourite in any film. The first time I saw that black hand reach through the shadows under June’s hand was a breathtaking change for showing powers surfacing. Cara Delevigne played the two roles quite well, and I liked the changes between June and Enchantress’ personality. The only part of the film that I thought was weird was at the end, the way she moved on screen became obnoxious rather quickly. Also what kind of archaeologist deliberately breaks an artifact??
Rick flag is a glorified handler. His role was either to control Enchantress or to control the squad. He broods, and bemoans June’s fate. I was glad he wasn’t a focus, just a target to move the plot along.
I kinda felt bad at the end. But only kinda. I hope there is more to June and Rick’s characters in the future, either backstory or some way Enchantress still impacts their life.
Enchantress wasn’t the only “Big Bad” of this film. The real villain in this, and I expect will be in subsequent films, is Amanda Waller. You learn early on that Waller uses and abuses everyone around her. Viola Davis played the cold and calculating head of the “random government agency” who would do anything to anyone to get her way. She also totally screwed over everyone in the squad. This characterization was infinitely better than the one that was shoe horned into Green Lantern. No offence to the amazing Angela Bassett, but that character sucked. By trying to combat meta humans, she creates the very villain she fears. Enchantress was right in many ways, and if DC is going the route of Darkseid, is more right than these humans know.
The movie has its share of flaws, but the flaws are not due to the characters. Like Dawn of Justice the characters are solid, and so are the actors, but the story is still lacking. Suicide Squad is better than Dawn of Justice because it handles the introductions more smoothly and is less confusing. The real test would be how my husband finds the film, since he has little to no knowledge of the comic characters and their history. We didn’t see it together, so I look forward to watching it with him to get his impressions of everything that I loved.
If you are on the fence about the film, I would say to give it a try. It isn’t like the other DC films, but it is still part of the DC movie universe enough for someone to grasp what is happening. Not everyone likes Leto’s Joker, my best advice is to go in watching Leto’s character, and don’t expect a Joker you have seen before.
It is worth it.