Five years after the first Suicide Squad was released in theaters, we finally have the sequel. That’s right, it’s not remake, a reboot or a reimagining, it’s just a straight up sequel, in absolutely the best way possible.
Back in 2016, WB took away David Ayer’s version of Suicide Squad and recut it until they were satisfied that it was enough of a Guardians of the Galaxy or Deadpool clone. This time around WB managed to course correct from the beginning by hiring James Gunn from the beginning, in an attempt to bring some of the magic over from the Marvel Universe. While this movie is very much in line with Guardians of the Galaxy sensibilities, we got the kind of movie that Gunn has clearly been itching to get back to.
James Gunn’s career started out writing very off-kilter movies like Tromeo and Juliet before moving on to writing the live-action version of Scooby Doo, a very fun and subversive story about the Mystery, Inc gang. He would then write the initial screenplay for Dawn of the Dead and the Scooby Doo sequel. His directorial debut was Slither, a low budget horror movie with a lot of similarities to scenes in The Suicide Squad. He then made Super, a subversive take on the vigilante superhero genre, being a hyper violent take on how ridiculous that would be like in real life. Since then, he’s been entrenched in the Marvel Universe with Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2 but also getting the chance to write and produce more horror leaning movies such as The Belko Experiment and Brightburn during this time. However, with The Suicide Squad, it feels like he’s getting back to writing and directing the perfect kind of movie for him, a big budget, horror-tinged superhero movie.
The Suicide Squad brings back some familiar characters from the first movie (Captain Boomerang, Harley Quinn, Rick Flagg, Amanda Waller) while introducing some fantastic new characters (Bloodsport, King Shark, Ratcatcher 2, Peacemaker). While it would have been great to see Will Smith’s Deadshot (one of the highlights from the first movie), Idris Elba’s Bloodsport is a very worthy replacement in this film. It is little evident that the maybe in an earlier draft that Deadshot was in that Bloodsport role, Gunn and Elba do a great job of building this character from the ground up and introducing this amazing new character to the DCEU.
In a movie that is literally called The Suicide Squad, it becomes clear from the beginning that some beloved characters from the first film and some characters you start to fall for in this film, are going to get wiped out. Although I would have loved to see more of Jai Courtney having an absolute blast with Captain Boomerang, it does make sense to kill off a fan favorite character in the very beginning to show that no one is safe. At times, I even thought Harley Quinn could bite the dust, seeing how this movie was not afraid to take the chances with the characters. However, I am extremely relieved that they DC and Margot Robbie are keeping the character around. I would love to see her interact with Leslie Grace’s Batgirl and explore more of the rogues in Gotham City.
One of the most heart wrenching deaths in the movie was Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg. While I liked him in the first movie, most people can agree that this version of the character is much more fleshed out. Kinnaman still brings that internal conflict from the first movie of wanting to serve his country while balancing that with being a good person, a concept that very rarely lines up. After seeing Flagg be manipulated by Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller again and again, it adds up why he made the choices he made and why Waller put Peacemaker on the mission to take Flagg out just in case. After Peacemaker drives that shard into Flagg’s chest, Kinnamon’s delivery of the line “Peacemaker, what a joke” is delivered perfectly and belongs in the hall of fame of great comic book movie death scenes.
With the territory of being a James Gunn film, you’re going to get some jokes, some corny but some genuinely funny ones. The jokes, in my opinion, that don’t work are very few and far between. The most prominent one with John Cena’s Peacemaker sleeping in his tighty whitey underwear. It’s a silly gag that just doesn’t land for me and could have been taken out of a scene that was already light-hearted fun. There was another recurring joke that Polka-Dot Man kept seeing his mother in all the characters. While this does add to the tormented backstory for this character, the joke of seeing a chubby middle aged woman over and over again quickly became old and could have worked with the implication that he sees her everywhere in his mind.
The great thing about the current state of the DCEU is that so many voices are to run free in this universe. From Zack Snyder to Patty Jenkins to David Samberg to James Gunn. Unlike the MCU, it does feel like directors have much more freedom and are not as pigeon-holed to deliver a product that is starting to feel like a copy of a copy of a copy in the MCU currently. Although there are signs that this movie isn’t doing as well as people would have liked it to have at the box-office, we still have the HBOMax “Peacemaker” show coming up (a character that is falling into the “love how much you hate him” category), so if you are a fan of this movie, you have a lot to look forward. For others who didn’t like this movie, we have Shazam 2, Black Adam, Blue Beetle, Batgirl and more coming up in the universe to enjoy.
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