When the original Suicide Squad film came out in 2016, I wouldn’t say that I had high hopes exactly but I was looking forward to seeing it. After all, Harley Quinn is one of my favourite DC characters and I thought it would a refreshing change from the usual DC films that had come before it. At the time, I didn’t completely hate it. I mean, I didn’t really enjoy it but I thought bits of it were fine. I watched it again after watching the new one and I regret my initial laidback feeling. It’s just embarrassing and I have no idea what Cara Delevingne was doing the whole time. So much cringe. Blame can’t really be placed at director David Ayer’s door. It’s clear that the studio messed with the film to and absolutely butchered it. Something that has been confirmed recently when pages of the original script were leaked. Not that I want to delve into that right now. What we should talk about is whether my slight change of heart has more to do with how awful Suicide Squad is or with how great the new one is?
A bunch of misfits who come together to become unlikely heroes. Well, if there was one man who was going to bring this together after the first one. After all, James Gunn has done it before with Marvel. He signed on to make The Suicide Squad in the time between getting fired from GOTG3 and getting rehired for GOTG3. I know that everyone moans about cancel culture these days but it did give us this movie. So, surely it can’t be all bad. Because, yeah, The Suicide Squad definitely makes amends for Warner Bros fucking up the first movie. It allows itself to have a lot more fun and to exist in a world that doesn’t rely on the other members of the DCEU. Meaning it lets the story develop without feeling the need to shoehorn in the Joker where he doesn’t belong.
I do admit, in terms of the actual story, there is a lot of similarities to the first one but that’s to be expected. Instead of Will Smith, we have Idris Elba play a sharp shooter who has a daughter he needs to help. So, of course, he’s going to accept Amanda Waller’s offer to lead the squad on their impossible mission. He is joined by a bunch of lesser known DC characters plus Harley Quinn and Rick Flag from the first film. There’s King Shark, Peacemaker, Polka-Dot Man and Ratcatcher 2. Quite an ensemble. The group must come together to uncover the secret of Project Starfish that metahuman scientist, The Thinker, is in charge of. Can they stop the project before it’s too late?
In terms of characters, they might not seem like the most obvious choices but Gunn has been very clever with his selection. He’s brought together some great character and created ample opportunities to play up the ridiculousness of superhero comics. I wasn’t exactly thriller to find out that Rick Flag would be back but the character is much better here. Turns out he can be a bit of fun when he’s not spending all of his time mooning over some woman. Unsurprisingly, Harley Quinn is given a lot of time on screen and has her own story within the story. She’s a fan favourite and can get away with anything. Do I think it was a mistake to spend so much time on her so much? Kind of. I love Harley and think Margot Robbie is great. But even I get a bit sick of the ever shifting focus.
Still, it doesn’t prevent this film from doing what it needed to do. It showed that DC is capable of making something that isn’t afraid to have fun but still have an edge. It bridged the gap between Zack Snyder’s gritty oeuvre and Shazam! It masquerades as a silly film but has hidden depths to it. The characters are over-the-top and stupid: the world is serious and full of peril. It helps that the actors are all putting in brilliant performances. Headed up by some big names including Viola Davies who is bringing a very unconventional comic book movie performance to the screen. She’s pitch perfect as always. That’s what Gunn manages to do so well here. He bridges the gap between so many different worlds. He’s been inspired by various genres and tropes. As well as classic comic book storylines. It means that everything feels familiar but in a totally new way.
Is this film perfect? No but it didn’t have to be. Things start to fall apart in the middle and there are a few issues with the ending. However, it doesn’t stop this from being an enjoyable film. It is, crucially, a lot of fun. It shows what DC are capable of if the studio don’t interfere so much. If they have faith in their filmmakers to produce the goods. The fact that this will suffer due to Covid is a crying shame because it deserved to have a huge opening. I certainly hope that Warner Bros gives Gunn another chance because he’s shown just how capable he is of creating comic book magic.