By Ben Thomson
DC’s newest film The Suicide Squad is something of an interesting project. David Ayer’s disastrous 2016 Suicide Squad (not to be confused with the 2021 The Suicide Squad) became the poster child for Warner Brother’s mismanagement and sub-par cinematic universe.
The film damaged DC’s reputation so much, you’d think it was tattooed on Jared Leto’s forehead.
Meanwhile, over at Disney, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was having his own fall from grace. A series of inappropriate tweets Gunn made during his time at Troma had just lost him the third Guardians film and left the director with an uncertain future (though he has since been reinstated as director).
And so, our story begins: the director who lost everything and the studio with nothing to lose. Ladies and gentlemen… The Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad marks a violent, pulpy and completely ridiculous return to form for James Gunn. While the Guardians series was always the most unique part of Marvel’s multiverse, it left a lot to be desired. Disney clearly had Gunn on a tight creative leash, restricting him from playing with the camera or portraying any sort of violence.
In The Suicide Squad, a giant shark thing (Sylvester Stallone) viciously rips a man in half, covering himself in glorious, bright red blood.
It’s a colorful film with an active camera, unafraid to be creative with how a shot is framed or how a camera moves.
Much like Gunn’s work with Marvel, The Suicide Squad is a film in love with scumbags, monsters and rejects. Unlike his work at Marvel, however, Gunn allows this team of freaks to be completely unhinged.
From the depressed Oedipus covered in polka-dots (David Dastmalchian) to the Proud Boy wearing a silver toilet bowl (John Cena), these characters seem to be the furthest thing from a traditional group of heroes. They are villains, after all. But Gunn is a master at finding any character’s heart — even a violent human shark.
His sick sense of humor and twisted creativity allow for a unique empathy for creatures from which you’d sooner turn away.
Unfortunately, that empathy can be to a fault. By the end of the film, all of our morally-compromised protagonists ultimately prove that they’re “good at heart,” a sentiment that felt tacked-on and cheap.
It’s disappointing to me that DC still feels the need to turn The Suicide Squad into a team of heroes, when the appeal lies in the team’s twisted morals.
They are scumbag, government lackies just trying to get a reduced sentence. And yet, for some reason, the film feels the need to give stone-cold killer Bloodsport (Idris Elba) a beloved daughter. For some reason, Hollywood is afraid of complicated protagonists, even in their R-rated film. To me, this just shows a lack of faith in their audience’s intelligence.
The Suicide Squad is an explosive, unhinged and blood-splattered ride that isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a fun way to spend a couple hours, so support your local theater and check it out!