A Quick Review of Suicide Squad -or- The Importance of Context


Note about spoilers: Part I will be mostly spoiler free. The closest thing to a spoiler will be that a character exists and some comments about how that character is portrayed. For most people’s tolerance of spoilers, part I should be safe. Part II will have minor spoilers.

I had the opportunity to see an early screening of Suicide Squad thanks to friends. Here’s what I thought:

Part I – Mostly Spoiler Free

I enjoyed this movie. As my friend Kenzi put it, “It was a typical summer movie.” Explosions, running, yelling, guns, special effects… it was entertaining.

Was it a great movie? No. It was fun movie. It was an entertaining movie. It was not a great movie.

harleyHarley Quinn? She was fun, delightful, and beautifully acted by Margo Robbie. There is a moment when she is sitting alone. She is sad, quiet, and pensive. The rest of the team approaches and she deliberately pulls on that big, bright smile. It was a moment of profound understanding of the character. The character was highly sexualized – she walks around through most of the movie in spangly “shorts” displaying 2/3 of her ass. Her relationship with the Joker is not as abusive as I’ve seen it portrayed elsewhere. Besides, she is a badass with a capital BAD.

Deadshot played by Will Smith set the tone of the movie. He was completely believable as a stone-cold assassin utterly devoted to his daughter.

I am a big fan of Jai Courtney and even though I could understand only about half of what he said in his natural accent, I enjoyed him as Captain Boomerang.

I’m not going to go through the whole cast, but the thing was well-cast and well-acted.

Finally, the writers, directors, and actors did a truly fantastic job of establishing these characters as the worst criminals on the planet, and then making you like and care about them. That is not an easy thing to do.

Still Part I – Sidebar: The Importance of Context.



I’m not a big DC fan. I was a Marvel girl when I read comics. So, DC fans stick with me through this to the end.

I was more than a little unhappy with the portrayal of Amanda Waller. She is a tough woman, strong, confident, competent, determined, and ruthless. And these are things that a woman can be and still look and act like a woman. (I’m going to side-bar my side-bar with the comment that yes, absolutely, women can behave however they want and still be women. I’m saying that I felt it was a deliberate choice to portray a powerful woman as non-feminine and that bothered me.) I was very put out with the mannish way Amanda Waller was portrayed. It seemed the film went out of their way to make Viola Davis unattractive with an unflattering hairstyle, boxy wardrobe, and ‘masculine’ behavior. (I say again – I’m not trying to enforce gender norms here. I thought DC was saying that a tough woman can’t look or act like a woman and that bothered me).

Amanda_wallerAfter the movie, I expressed this concern to friends who are DC fans and I was offered evidence that this version of Amanda Waller is actually quite a bit … erm… softer…  than her image in the comic books. So… lesson learned for me.

At any rate, Viola Davis did a great job in the part because of course she did.

Edited to add: The reason I even commented on Amanda Waller and her behavior and appearance is that prior to seeing this movie, my only familiarity with the part was from the CW show Arrow where she looks like this:Amanda_Waller_(Cynthia_Addai-Robinson)


Part II – with more spoilers.

My main complaint is this: after establishing these guys as villains, then making us like them… they made them behave like heroes. And they did. Self-sacrificing and brave, they worked together to end a massively powerful threat.

It followed pretty naturally for Deadshot’s storyline, I believed his actions.

Harley was well established as absolutely Chaotic Neutral, acting on whim for the thrill of the moment.

For everyone else? They had the chance to walk away and I would have expected them to take it.

It’s worth watching. You’ll laugh, you’ll be impressed by Leto’s Joker. And outside of an afterimage of Harley’s spangly “shorts” you’ll probably forget it in a few days in favor of the next big summer movie.


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