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The UnPopular Opinion: Suicide Squad

01.26.2017

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

Everyone, it is time to stop shitting on the DC Extended Universe. Between the hate for MAN OF STEEL’s disaster porn and BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE’s lack of levity, fans have just been picking on Warner Bros. answer to Marvel Studios gargantuan franchise machine. It was always going to be difficult to follow Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed DARK KNIGHT trilogy, but it feels almost like people are getting hard-ons from picking apart Zack Snyder’s film work. I am by no means equating Snyder to Nolan, but to say that DC’s films have been failures is a broad generalization. This past summer, we got out first non-Snyder film in the DCEU canon in the form of David Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD and the response was just as luke warm as the films that preceded it. But, for all of the shortcomings I found with the finished product that was SUICIDE SQUAD, I enjoyed it for what it was.

And do we really need anything more than that? I am not suggesting we should embrace mediocrity, but do we need every superhero film or comic book adaptation to be the greatest film ever released? With the sheer volume of films out there based on iconic superheroes, can’t we just embrace the audacity of seeing our favorite characters immortalized in live action? SUICIDE SQUAD is a film that gives us a team of anti-heroes who have never graced the silver screen before with actors perfectly cast for their roles. And that is saying something because I have despised Jai Courtney in every film to this point and Captain Boomerang was a highlight of this movie. Like Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, SUICIDE SQUAD is not your traditional superhero film. But, like James Gunn’s cosmic film, SUICIDE SQUAD works because it upends expectations and tries something different.

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In a recent social media post, writer/director David Ayer has expressed reservations regarding SUICIDE SQUAD and wishes he could have gone back and made changes to the finished film. Clearly, studio interference and fan reaction to BATMAN V SUPERMAN influenced the direction SUICIDE SQUAD took, but the film works more than it doesn’t and it paves the way for a different tone than we have seen thus far in the DCEU. The question we should ask ourselves after watching a movie is whether we enjoyed it and had fun. With SUICIDE SQUAD, the answer to both is yes. Maybe it is the oppositional side of me, but whereas I felt DEADPOOL got way more acclaim than it deserved, SUICIDE SQUAD has gotten more hate than it deserves. Yes, this movie has a weak villain and yes it feels tonally unbalanced, but it also gives us a crew of bad guys that together are more enjoyable to watch and better executed than any single nemesis from any Marvel film.

SUICIDE SQUAD came out at the perfect time in the DCEU as there will not be another film like it for a long time to come. Outside of Ayers’ announced GOTHAM CITY SIRENS, Warner Bros will not be doing much but JUSTICE LEAGUE tie-ins for the next several years. We will get GREEN LANTERN CORPS, sure, but that will be more to tie into the A-list DC heroes. We may not be lucky enough to get a sequel to SUICIDE SQUAD, but we absolutely should. There is so much material to mine with this crew of rejects, especially with the surface barely being scratched with Will Smith’s portrayal of Deadshot. SUICIDE SQUAD was designed as a showcase for Smith, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto as The Joker. The rest of the squad were barely touched upon but I for one want to see more of Killer Croc and Boomerang along with Enchantress and Rick Flag. Hell, two hours of Viola Davis is more than enough to keep me engaged for the duration.

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And for all of the “controversy” and uproar about Jared Leto’s take on The Joker, it worked for me. It is unlike either Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson’s take on the role but also fits perfectly into the mold the DCEU is setting forth. By the film’s end, I wanted to see so much more of Leto and that is a testament to his performance we did get to see. He is unhinged, crazy, over-the-top but at the same time scary enough to feel like a real threat. In the limited scenes shared with Ben Affleck’s Batman, you see the makings of a great face-off in a different film. SUICIDE SQUAD is then a much richer jumping off point for the DC cinematic franchise than BATMAN V SUPERMAN ever was. What makes SUICIDE SQUAD a success is the same thing that makes Ayers' other movies work: they are fun and they don't give a f*ck. Ayers pushes the PG-13 limit as far as he can and makes this movie more about action and being a live action comic book rather than making too much sense.

The extended cut released on Blu-ray feels even more disjointed than the theatrical version but manages to give us more of the Harley Quinn and Joker dynamic that was cut from the final edit. If this movie had been about the Squad fighting The Joker it would have fit more with the tone and style that Ayers was going for but that doesn't diminish from the successful aspects of this film. BATMAN V SUPERMAN's dour and dark approach is still clearly on display in this film but the sense of black humor needed to boost this fictional world is finally out in the open thanks to this movie. While only Will Smith and Margot Robbie could successfully hold their own features, the ensemble cast her clearly work well together and would be absolutely enjoyable a second time around. The goal would have to be finding a worthy opponent for them to face and that should absolutely be The Joker.

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SUICIDE SQUAD, now an Academy Award nominated film, is not a masterpiece. It may not even be the best DC film released in 2016, but it deserves much more recognition than it has gotten. There is a reason the film was a box office success and that is because fans want to watch a movie that they enjoy and do not feel the need for every feature to please everyone. This movie was never going to be an easy sell to mainstream audiences unfamiliar with the characters but it went on to be comparably as much of a hit as GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. That film has spawned a sequel of it's own and hopefully SUICIDE SQUAD will, too. This is a flawed film in many ways but also one that has gotten the jitters out and can relax. A second outing with this ragtag crew of killers can focus on being fun, violent, crass and bold in all the ways this first one was restrained from being. That will be a movie to see. Until then, I am more than willing to enjoy multiple visits to the hellish cells of Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and Killer Croc.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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