Why I Love Suicide Squad
"I'm bored. Play with me."
I didn't expect to love Suicide Squad. I had heard terrible things and I am not a fan of crossover comic book continuity. It was a wonderful surprise then when I discovered that in fact Suicide Squad is one of the best comic book movies ever made. It is full of fun, with three excellent performances from Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto. While there are some negatives - namely the lead villain being The Enchantress with a stock supernatural partner - there are more than enough things for me to say that I loved the hell out of this movie.
Let's start with Margot Robbie, who embodies Harley Quinn with all of the fun loving psychosis that the character demands. Harley Quinn was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for the stunning Batman: The Animated Series. She is Joker's other half, a sadomasochistic fiend who was seduced by the Clown Prince of Crime. Robbie plays it so well, bringing the character to life in a way that many of us feared would never happen in the movies. The story of how Harley became Joker's woman is done expertly well here and leaves the door open for hopefully many more stories about the dangerous duo. If the world was fair Robbie would have received an Academy Award for her work here, so compelling and seductive as she is.
Will Smith is an incredibly gifted actor. I mean we've known that for some time now, but with Deadshot he turns in one of his very best performances. It's not easy to play a hitman who you care about and feel for but Smith does it with panache and ease. Since the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and early work like Six Degrees of Separation, he has had a commanding screen presence, switching easily between real pathos and a feeling for comedy. Some words have to be spent on the "But Deadshot was never meant to be black!" crowd. Fuck them. They are pathetic specimens who should be ignored. Deadshot's race or skin colour was never important, it was who he was as a character and his cunning skill and stunning accuracy with a pistol. Will Smith exudes cool from every pore, and makes you invest in the character's emotional development. He is a terrific lead.
Now onto Jared Leto as The Joker. I think Leto's performance is just as intriguing and compelling as Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson, and in my opinion, he bests Ledger at his own game. He is much more terrifying, more unpredictable and generally fucking amazingly good at being an evil heel. For Leto to overcome the stigma around another man doing The Joker after Ledger was so warmly received, is a tall order, but he does it. This is some kind of miracle. I mean I liked Ledger don't get me wrong. It was dark and beautiful. But to me The Joker is defined so well in Suicide Squad. He is Harley's pimp. He is played and written here as sexually threatening to an extreme. There is something in Leto's performance that was, say it quietly, missing in Ledger's portrayal. My favourite scene in the movie is the one in which Joker convinces Harley to douse herself in the chemicals that created her lover. This birth scene is the one that takes this film from GOOD to I LOVE IT. I dearly hope that we get a sequel with more Joker, as Leto is just staggeringly good at the character. I want to live with the character and see all of the things that make him tick.
Along with the brilliant Batman V. Superman, Suicide Squad was critically panned, and I can't for the life of me understand why. This is an electrifying, kinetic ride that just screams FUN. David Ayer does a wonderful job of delivering on bombastic set-pieces, as well as all the little details that flesh out characters who are not so well known. I think this can partly be explained by comic book movie fatigue, which while understandable in the broad sense, is not fair when it comes down to the specifics. This is one of the best comic book movies that has been made. It is unique, off beat and seriously entertaining. Its panning can perhaps be better explained through good old fashioned snobbery. Some critics see a movie like this and can't help being condescending and elitist. "Oh this is what the plebs enjoy? They should watch some D.W. Griffith pictures instead."
I remember writing a piece on why I loved Batman Forever by Joel Schumacher and encountering much of the same snobbery and prejudice, a surprising amount from other comic book fans. Alan Moore once compared writing comic books with depth to a dog riding a bicycle. If you can do it at all well, you are praised for the effort, even if it doesn't stack up to other media. While I don't agree with Moore on much, apart from his obvious talent, but he nailed it when he described what some comic book fans are obsessed with: namely that to overcome their insecurities that they are obsessed with a babyish medium, they want DARK stories. Violence and overt sexuality stand in for adult work. Comic book movies don't have to be terribly serious or dark to have artistic merit. They are beautiful escapism and Suicide Squad works very well on this level. Yeah there are dark elements in it but its heart is a youthful and joyous one, taking pleasure in removing all of your worries and fears. Its purity is something to be treasured. It will last for me as one of my all time favourites.
Suicide Squad probably won't be remembered as one of the best comic book movies. The critical outfits have seen to that, which is a great shame. For those who are not hung up on seeming discerning and part of the elite, this is a wonderful time at the movies. Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie turn in three of the best performances ever in a comic book movie and look fucking cool doing it. There are some negatives - Joker really should have been the main villain - but there is so much to enjoy about the movie that you don't really care. So please, sit back and have a watch of the movie. It is worth your while.