THE SUICIDE SQUAD IS...
My feverish retro review of a new movie that's come and already gone.
Was I this incredible fan of DC and John Ostrander’s SUICIDE SQUAD? No. Not really but I was an enormous fan of Ostrander (Grim Jack) and enjoyed the quirky off brand DC superhero groups that had cropped up along the way to compete with Marvel’s slew of team books. THE SUICIDE SQUAD was one of those comics I was never really interested in…it looked like it could be cool but the characters were so “un-sexy” and well… I guess that was the point. I’m not going to spend a lot of time reviewing the current SUICIDE SQUAD movie or it’s previous incarnation. I saw both of them without being a major fan of the comics and enjoyed them enough to ponder certain questions. One of my biggest strengths as a writer I think is that I quickly identify what works and what doesn’t in a story. For instance…the first SUICIDE SQUAD movie, I immediately recognized that Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) was a key reason why I enjoyed the first movie. Will Smith’s unique and intriguing performance as Deadshot was memorable and enough for me to truly miss his continued adventures in the new offering. Jared Leto catches a lot of heat for his whacked out, crazed and ultra violent portrayal of The Joker. I personally found his Joker very entertaining and compelling. I saw the movie twice because of the sugar-pop and grind soundtrack and Leto’s Chaplinesque/Cagney style take on this pop culture villain. Not a Harley Quinn fan at all…she is to me the equivalent of Deadpool, an inside joke character that I tolerate and suffer through because everyone else seems to adore them. Getting to watch Margot Robbie try to infuse life into this shallow figment of a character was at first an attractive proposition and gets varying degrees of mileage in each film, but to me she’s completely implausible in this scenario and really just distracts my enjoyment of the overall theme of the SUICIDE SQUAD. The rest of the cast in the first flick were largely forgettable but one thing is certain…2 of the three characters that provoked any interest I had in the concept were removed unceremoniously from the franchise. Right off the bat the new and improved James Gunn movie is at a disadvantage because of no Will Smith and no Joker. The second movie has added three cool characters that I enjoyed rooting for….Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (Jon Cena) and Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian). Bloodsport pulses with the characteristic swagger of Mr. Elba, Peacemaker is Captain America as a jingoistic super-asshole, and Polka Dot Man is a victim of genetic manipulation and child abuse. These superheroes are not your normal fare and nor should they be. I guess though in my imagination…I wanted the SUICIDE SQUAD movies to have the best villains and anti-heroes fighting to accomplish the singular mission they have been given and to also survive so they can enjoy the freedom Amanda Waller is offering them as a reward. I picture the SUICIDE SQUAD, if I were writing it, to be a cross between The Dirty Dozen and The Great Escape…and maybe also a bit of Cool Hand Luke. Starting with the cast…I would definitely make use of Deadshot, resident marksman and bounty hunter. Every good para-military group has a sharpshooter and Deadshot also has a very cool costume. Second team member for me would be Count Vertigo. Vertigo has a real weak background story but he’s a slick European royal with a cape and an eye piece who can discombobulate a person’s physical equilibrium…kind of an evil James Bond. Bronze Tiger is a brother who wears a tiger suit but is also a martial arts master. This way we can throw some karate fights in for good measure. Cheetah of Wonder Woman lore should be the alpha female villain because I’ve always thought this villainess has tremendous potential and it would be refreshing for once to see a lady grapple with a dark transformation into a animal entity that’s unpredictable. We also could have some Tiger-Cheetah jokes in the meantime. The Creeper would make an excellent “crazy character” almost coming off as a “heroic lunatic”…this would be my natural replacement for the Joker. Manhunter is also an obscure DC anti-hero that needs some exposure. The last component of my motley crew would be none other than Mr. Mxyzpltk. I would look at it as a showcase for DC’s supervillain community and DC comics does have some of the most iconic bad guys in the business so this should be a no brainer. James Gunn is alright, not convinced that he’s quite the wonderkind that everybody thinks he is because of Guardians of the Galaxy but he is cold with these ensemble pieces. I like both SQUAD movies but DC and Time Warner are still doing something wrong. They turn left when they should turn right and vice versa. To use a football analogy, too many turnovers in a game will almost always assure you a spot in the loser’s column.
After-thoughts: I did enjoy the completely freaky appearance of DC outer space creature, Starro. But why is the SUICIDE SQUAD battling STARRO…shouldn’t that task be reserved for the JUSTICE LEAGUE?!!!