The following article contains spoilers for The Suicide Squad.
When I went to the cinema to see The Suicide Squad I wasn’t sure what to expect. Such a huge cast made me wonder if every character would have their chance to shine. But, when half of the cast died in the most violent of ways within the first ten minutes of the movie, I understood what I was getting myself into.
Gunn drops the audience right into the action. As Task Force X prepares to ship out to Corto Maltese, we’re introduced to a whole host of new characters, as well as a few familiar faces. When Pete Davidson’s Blackguard double-crosses his team, pandemonium ensues. A gory battle follows, with Harley Quinn and Rick Flag being the only survivors. The death of Captain Boomerang is the one that really struck me, despite this film not being linked to 2016’s Suicide Squad, Jai Courtney’s character had been a standout in that film for me. The battle is broken up with some well-placed and much-needed humour.
When it’s revealed that Amanda Waller has a second team on the opposite side of the beach, the audience is given a moment to catch their breath.
This film is non-linear storytelling done right. Gunn gives us a well-placed flashback to give a bit more context and let us process the obscene amounts of blood and death we’ve just witnessed.
The way this film is paced and broken down into sections makes it much more digestible. Something as simple as titles for each part of the squad’s plan made all of the difference for me. Plus, the way said titles blended seamlessly into each scene was beautiful.
There are a couple of flashbacks that come at the perfect moment to keep the story grounded. Ratcatcher II’s “origin story” was a standout for me. In a film that’s packed with humour and action, those emotional moments were so important. I was glad that they didn’t get lost.
At the heart of this film is an amazing cast and interesting characters. Out of the newly introduced characters, Peacemaker stood out. He was funny and completely delusional. My heart was in my mouth when he killed Rick Flag, a character whom I was certain would survive until the end. From that point onwards, I feared that nobody was safe.
In hindsight, I should have known better considering how long the film spent setting Bloodspot up as a new leader. He was another character who I really grew to like throughout the film. His estranged relationship with his daughter was tested when Amanda Waller threatened her and I loved seeing his fatherly nature exposed with Ratcatcher II, as well as Waller’s brutality.
I went into this film knowing that I’d enjoy every minute of Harley Quinn’s screentime. But, I didn’t expect to enjoy her agreeing to marry and subsequently killing the President of Corto Maltese as much as I did. It was completely bizarre, but it worked in a film that has a giant starfish from space as a villain. I loved that Gunn embraced everything weird and wonderful about comic books. This felt more like a faithful adaptation from page to screen than most CBMs do.
Who’s the real villain?
In a film where the villains are 1) an alien starfish and 2) the president of Corto Maltese, it’s strangely refreshing to see that the real mastermind is actually the US Government. In true character, Amanda Waller deceives everyone around her. But, the twist that I really love is her own staff turning on her when she tries to make Task Force X walk away from the escaped Starro. It’s nice to see her get a taste of her own medicine.
The final battle against Starro is another moment where the film embraces how weird it is. Polka Dot Man has a very noble death, but I was sad to see him go. The real heroes of the day wound up being Ratcatcher II and Harley Quinn. Between them, they were able to take down the giant starfish. I thought Bloodsport was set up to be the hero of the day, but seeing the two women take the lead was a nice change of pace, especially for Ratcatcher II.
What really caught me off-guard was that I started feeling sorry for Starro as he died. To him, the real villain of the plot was humanity.
Many CBMs these days try and remain grounded in a sense of reality, and whilst I enjoy that, The Suicide Squad was a refreshing change of pace. It’s weird, wonderful and unbelievably gory. It’s everything I hoped it would be and more. The studio gave James Gunn free rein with this film, and rightfully so.
Any film that has the guts (both figuratively and literally) to kill off half of its cast in the first act is bound to grab the audience’s attention. Every character had their chance to shine and many were given noble deaths. The action, humour and general chaos are broken up nicely with flashbacks and slower-paced moments. We have a chance to enjoy each character whilst still following the overarching plot.
This film is a must-see, possibly the best that the DCEU has to offer. It’s up there with some of my favourite comic book movies of all time and it’s earned its spot by being completely different to everything else I’ve seen.