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The Suicide Squad

On the surface, this is a gory action fest with colorful characters and bonkers visuals. It makes the original Suicide Squad (2016) look garish and pointless (because it was). But it was the surprising depth in both character and storytelling that makes this not only a worthy sequel but one of the best entries into the DCEU to date.

One of the biggest things the DC comic universe has going for it is that their villains are freaking awesome. Batman alone is connected to some of the greatest villains ever created. So it makes sense from a marketing standpoint to create a story focused on these villains exclusive to their hero counterparts. Before there was ever a standalone Joker movie or even a Legion of Doom, there was the Suicide Squad.

A version of the Suicide Squad debuted all the way back in 1959 where both Rick Flag and Amanda Waller were introduced. Later on when the series was revived, the idea of a revolving squad of villains who were on occasion brought in just to be killed off became one of the selling points. The central conceit is that Waller was able to use these people as almost canon fodder for dangerous missions with a low chance of survival in turn for a reduced prison sentence.

Perhaps this was a way of explaining the almost revolving door policy of the DC universe prison system, but also because it is kind of a neat idea to see crappy people trying to do something that is usually reserved for heroes. They cannot even really be called anti-heroes as most would go off mission at the first opportunity if it wasn’t for the explosives implanted in their skulls.

Warner Bros. launched their comic universe using DC characters as direct compitition with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It started with a dark and morose themed Superman movie (Man of Steel) and an even darker follow up in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. No one knows exactly what happened, but rumors abound that Warner Bros. freaked out after the poor critical reception of BvS, and as a result the third entry Suicide Squad, suffered from massive reshoots and a couple of hastily put together edits. That film focused on Amanda Waller and Rick Flag leading a team of villains featuring a pretty good cast of characters. This also introduced the world to Harley Quinn in live action. This broken, insane and thoroughly tragic character has been a mainstay in the DC universe for going on thirty years after the comics quickly adapted her from animation (first appearing in Batman: The Animated Series) to print.

This was one of those rare actor/character performances that will likely never be topped. Margot Robbie inhabits Harley Quinn as if she were born to play the role. A mixture of timing, accent, physical tics and sheer personality, this Harley basically steals whatever scene she is in. When first introduced in Suicide Squad (2016) she was poorly written but still popped off the screen as one of the best realized comic book characters ever. Her second appearance in the underrated (but wonderful) Birds of Prey cemented the character as one of the best things the DC movie universe had going for it. Now in this third appearance, we have a fully realized Harley Quinn. And it is just wonderful.

This film is basically a sequel to the first Suicide Squad, but it could also be seen as a soft reboot. To be honest, if we had just gotten another great Harley appearance, I would’ve been satisfied. However, pretty much everyone was great in this film. Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag was almost lifeless when he first appeared in the first Suicide Squad, but here he is funny and I actually cared about him and was rooting for him to make it to the end. Polka-Dot Man is the kind of one-note idiotic D-tier villain you would expect to die quickly in a film like this. Thankfully, David Dastmalchian was brilliant as a broken man with a surprisingly serious backstory who was utterly aware of how silly his gimmick was, and yet managed to make me care about him. Sylvester Stallone didn’t have a ton of lines as King Shark, but somehow he made a vicious humanoid shark lovable, I still don’t really know how that was done. Probably some combination of great character writing and excellent visual effects.

John Cena honestly deserves the spin-off show that is coming based on his character Peacemaker. He was such a great character, from his dry serious dialogue to his beyond stupid helmet. He was an absolute hoot. Viola Davis’s return as Amanda Waller is kind of breathtaking in that we finally have a version of Amanda Waller in live action that is absolutely terrifying. She is the kind of character you could absolutely believe would scare these criminals into doing her bidding.

I could honestly keep going on and on about characters, but I’ll keep it to two more. First is Ratcatcher 2, played by Daniela Melchior, who is truly the heart of the entire movie. She has perhaps the most touching backstory, and her ability is both very silly and incredibly cool at the same time. I don’t believe the actress has done much in America but I thought she was great. Last, and definitely not the least, is Idris Elba as Bloodsport, a character who on the surface sounds like a carbon copy of the lead in the last Suicide Squad (Will Smith’s Bloodshot). However, Idris imparts a strength and pathos to a relatively serious character (although he does have his moments of levity).

The movie is both shockingly violent, funny, irreverent and deeply aware that it is an R-rated comic book movie. Much like Deadpool, this movie relishes in excess and doesn’t hold back from its rating at all. You get to see each visceral death as though you’re in a horror movie, but the timing paints these deaths as the purest form of black humor. The visual flare and cinematography are really excellent and the visual effects are almost seamless.

I do have a couple of minor nits to pick, like the Harley section does go on a bit long and the first couple of acts drag a bit at times. But the third act of this film, including the villain, was simply spectacular. I never thought in a million years they could pull off this villain with any kind of comic accuracy or fun. I was almost cringing as we got closer to the reveal, and I was not just pleasantly surprised, I was smiling through the entire climax of the film.

This movie was a lot of fun and gave me everything I wanted in a Suicide Squad movie. I doubt it'll be for everyone – it is far to bloody and violent for that – but if you can stomach the gore, there is a lot of great character moments and a surprising amount of heart in this film.

4 out of 4 D-Tier Villains Dying Horribly

Samantha M. Quinn spends most of her time in front of a computer typing away at one thing or another; when she has free time, she enjoys pretty much anything science fiction or fantasy-related.


  1. Personally, I think this is the best DC live-action film since The Dark Knight

  2. It's got a wicked sense of humor and is definitely one of the best DC movies (at least the newer ones). But I also found it somewhat frustrating. First of all it's too long. Some parts, especially in the middle, drag incessantly. If they'd cut 20 or so minutes, I think it would have been a lot better movie. Also the gags get kind of repetitive towards the end. On the other hand it's got a clear creative vision, it knows what it wants to do and how, and it largely succeeds. That's rare these days.

  3. I liked it more than expected (usually avoid most R-rated films). It felt like a mix of Deadpool and Legends of Tomorrow - gory, funny, and completely bonkers.

    Spoilers ahead:

    I wasn't expecting the fakeout at the beginning with the 2 different teams (I'd only seen promos detailing who was in the movie and that was many months ago). Sad that that meant very little Nathan Fillion. I don't read the comics and have only sporadically watched DC movies, so I really only knew Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller, and The Flash's versions of King Shark and The Thinker. (A bit weird seeing Peter Capaldi in the role since I've only seen him in Doctor Who shows.)

    Harley was one of the best parts of this movie - and I'm saying this as someone who never really "got" why people went crazy over her character, but I get it now. (I did watch the 2016 Suicide Squad but not Birds of Prey.) Her reaction to her new guy having a "red flag" - perfect balance of "growing as a person" and "still crazy".

    King Shark is one of my least favorite reoccurring characters on The Flash, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed his character on here.

  4. Really suggest all Harley Quinn fans and DC fans in general (they do all the characters justice) watch her animated show if your not already.

    This was brilliant in terms of live action Harley. The first Suicide Squad tried to make her too edgy, bad and sexy at all times, While Birds of Prey tried to make her too 'good' and threw in a bunch of characters who should all have their own movies. This one toed the line brilliantly.

  5. Needed more Starro, but still a fun flick. I'm still kind of in shock they actually used him lol

  6. I liked this movie, but didn't love it. I wanted to. I really did. But a few things fell flat for me. Harley's section definitely went on for far too long, although I adore her "growth" being that she kills boyfriends who are red flags. It makes complete character sense for her. My main complaint, though, was how little impact the deaths felt like they had. And I know that it's a suicide squad and that dying along the way is the point, but Polka Dot Man's death just felt so random and sudden and without any emotional pay off. Same with Flagg. I desperately wanted some kind of genuine fallout or reaction beyond what we got. Ah well.

    When they showed the first trailer, I remember thinking that there was no way they could actually fit that many characters into a movie and have it make sense. Their solution was a great one. I also loved the command center that Waller had.

  7. Really bummed I didn't see this in theaters. I honestly think I could write a thesis about this movie and everything I loved about it... in spite of the fact that it literally does just about everything the previous Suicide Squad was trying to do. But better.

    I think that may have been done almost deliberately; like you said, soft reboot. James Gunn is a very good writer-director in how he's able to dance on the line between what is absurd and what is sincere, showing how you can take seemingly schlocky material (which I agree, the first one was) and make it creative and unique.


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