“Suicide Squad” is a much-needed win for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.
Originally thought by some to be the other DC Comics movie of 2016 that would come after “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” instead “Suicide Squad” is confirmation that the DC cinematic universe has a place in this current era of superhero movies. That’s a feeling that “Batman v Superman” wasn’t able to elicit.
The big, Kryptonite-colored elephant in the room has been that DC Entertainment’s attempts to mimic the success of Marvel Studios by creating its own connected movie universe has gotten off to a rocky start. Key characters such as Batman and Wonder Woman have been successfully established, with Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot giving fanboy-approved performances in “Batman v Superman.” However, DC was swinging for the fences with “Batman v Superman” and they got to second base (or grounded out to first, depending on your opinion).
“Suicide Squad” is the home run the DC Comics cinematic universe has always been capable of.
Director David Ayer finds the perfect balance of action, drama and geek-tastic comic-book Easter eggs — not to mention some incredible choices of classic hip-hop and rock hits — to make a movie that should be considered one of the best Warner Bros. and DC have ever produced together.
If there is a hall of fame for DC Comics movie excellence, for movies that embody the heart and soul of DC Comics and went on to become pop culture events (think Christopher Reeve’s first “Superman” movie, 1989’s “Batman” and “The Dark Knight” trilogy), “Suicide Squad” belongs there.
Most importantly, “Suicide Squad” is lots of fun. It’s filled with bad guys, and even with a dark cloud hanging over it for two hours, it never loses its sense of humor. Whatever the creative process was that made “Suicide Squad” what it is should be bottled up and sprinkled over the rest of the upcoming DC Comics cinematic universe films.
“Suicide Squad” is a funny, fun, dark movie that shows DC Comics on film has a future a lot brighter than we thought.
Here are Comic Riffs’s seven takeaways from “Suicide Squad.”
1. An authentic Amanda Waller
Viola Davis is perfectly cast as Amanda Waller. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Amanda Waller on film. Angela Bassett played her in the forgettable “Green Lantern” back in 2011. Davis’s version is ruthless, unapologetic and clearly in charge of the Suicide Squad. Just the way she should be. Superman is dead after saving the world from Doomsday in “Batman v Superman” (don’t worry, he’s coming back eventually), and Waller convinces the government that the next person that comes to Earth with powers like that might not be as nice as the Man of Steel. That fear gives birth to the Suicide Squad, and despite the team being filled with the worst villains the DC universe has to offer, Waller above all is the person that no one messes with. Leverage against the members of the Suicide Squad is her superpower, and she uses it with razor-like precision.
2. The Joker and Harley Quinn are magnetic
From Cesar Romero to Jack Nicholson and an Academy Award-winning performance from Heath Ledger to the animated voice talents of Mark Hamill, there’s a lot of history to Batman’s top foe. Leto was going to have to reinvent the character just like those actors that came before him. He does so quite well. Leto’s Joker is the closest we’ve seen on screen to the comic-book version (somewhat channeling the Joker that appeared in writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo’s run in DC’s Batman comics), while at the same time bringing something new. This Joker feels younger, with a street edge and a slight gangster swag that we haven’t seen before, and like every Joker, he’s always one step ahead of everyone. What makes this Joker tick? Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie’s Harley is a scene-stealer. She’s the brightness and color in a dark Suicide Squad. Plus, this combo gives us something we’ve never seen before in a Joker performance: romance. Warner Bros. and DC would be wise to get these two on screen as much as they can in the future.
3. Bat-fleck returns
The bat appearances are brief, but they give us another look at Affleck’s surprisingly (to some) likeable Batman and remind us that “Suicide Squad” is connected to “Batman v Superman.”
4. Will Smith hits the mark as Deadshot
Even in a movie with the Joker, Harley Quinn and Batman, Smith’s Deadshot is not overshadowed. Smith’s star power shines through, but not so bright that it just feels like Will Smith as a super-villain. Despite being the most lethal killer on the team, Deadshot seems to be the only one with a conscience. He’ll take anyone down with a bullet if the price is right (and in very interesting ways), but has a soft spot for his daughter and proves to be a surprisingly loyal teammate on the Suicide Squad.
5. No Tom Hardy? No problem?
Remember when Tom Hardy was cast as Amanda Waller’s right hand man, Rick Flag? And then he decided to drop out, reportedly due to scheduling conflicts, although there were rumors he wasn’t happy with Flag’s screen time in “Suicide Squad’s” final script? The movie doesn’t suffer for the departure. While it would have been great to include Hardy in an all-star cast after he already delivered an all-time performance for Warner Bros./DC as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises,” Joel Kinnaman’s performance was just fine.
6. Director David Ayer, now one of Warner Bros./DC’s top assets
Warner Bros. and DC’s first order of business should be to make sure that Ayer doesn’t go anywhere. Ayer, whose credits include writing “Training Day” and directing “End of Watch” and “Fury,” has handled the pressure of a big budget superhero movie well. The questions is: Does he stay in the world of “Suicide Squad” with sequels or give other corners of the DC universe a try?
7. The very end
“Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” did not have after-credit scenes, which may lead you to believe that this is something that DC just doesn’t do. That’s not the case here. Be sure to stay till the very end.