An open letter of intervention to the DC/WB Cinematic Universe.
It is time, once again, to review movies. Today, we need to get super-serious about something. When you see a friend diving deeper into a dilemma that you know will ultimately kill them, you do something about it. Help them get counseling, stage an intervention, slap them in the face and tell them to stop doing dumb stuff…whatever. So I am being a friend to DC Entertainment and this is an intervention.
DC, you’re my friend. While we’ve never been super-close (I know I hang out too much with Marvel Cinematic, but they are the Zack Morris of super-hero franchises), I want you to know that you brought me some wonderful memories. I remember seeing the first trailers for Batman (1989) when I was 8 years old and wondering if I was witness to the greatest movie ever made. I remember losing my cool with you over Batman & Robin (1997) but we reconciled. You made some brilliant animated series over the years and I still watch them, now with my own kids. Then, you gave us the Dark Knight Trilogy, with all its wonders and deep character development and heroes and villains we cared about. I dedicated my dissertation to you. In some ways, you made me the Professor I am today. So know that what comes next is from a place of love.
WHAT THE #&@!*(#^#&*@ WAS UP WITH #&)*$^@!!!?^! SUICIDE SQUAD?
Okay, sorry for shouting.
But seriously, how did you screw that up soooo bad? You got Will Smith to take the lead as Deadshot, an assassin who never misses a shot. You gave his character gravitas by making him more humanitarian than he claims to be. You gave him a potential character arch that would have made a lesser super-villain weep. AND YOU WASTED IT ALL ON HARLEY QUINN? I know, comic nerds have a permanent tent pitched for that character. And her association with the coolest villain ever, The Joker, only makes her cooler by proxy. But she is a one-trick pony. Crazy line, swings blunt object, crazy line, close-up of her butt.
We should trace this through in a coherent fashion, get a sense of where exactly you went off the rails. First, there was Man of Steel (2013) and that was a trainwreck. Too much has been said about that to go into it. And your follow-up to that? A bigger trainwreck under the ridiculous title of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) which sounds like an adaptation of a John Grisham novel, but can’t even give us a proper courtroom scene. The common element here? Zack Snyder. The guy thinks all super-hero movies are about gods vs. humans. Or gods vs. Zods. Yeah, I went there. Dump him now! You are hanging with a bad influence. I know you are better than this.
Suicide Squad, the tale of a group of villains strong-armed into helping humanity, should have been your tonic. You didn’t totally get rid of Snyder, but at least he didn’t write or direct this. Good step forward. In steps David Ayer, writer of such perfectly good films as Training Day (2001), The Fast and the Furious (2001), and U-571 (2000). Okay, that last one wasn’t perfect and the one before that launched a bloated corpse of a franchise, but people still like them. And S.W.A.T. (2003) could have happened to anyone. So, a movie about baddies doing something right in the end written/directed by a guy who specializes in scripts about that exact scenario. Score one for you. So why did you greenlight what was clearly a script he wrote the night before it started pre-production and was rewritten by Snyder and his minions of terror?
This movie was a hot mess from minute one. First of all, what was with the top-40-song-every-30-seconds throughout the entire film? Was that necessary? Do you really make that much money off of soundtrack compilations? While some songs, like that Eminem song for example, fit just fine into this, why did you use “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “House of the Rising Sun”? For one relevant line? Then, you give us 20 minutes (and that is just in the theatrical version) of cramming every origin story ever into the movie. What was worst about that was how much I actually wanted to see some of those movies and never will. Deadshot, given how much the movie revolved around his moral dilemmas, would have been a good movie and Smith could have carried it all by himself. And I really wanted to see a movie where Batman faces Joker and Harley. I actually kind of like Ben Affleck as Batman and I would love to see him thrive. Why do you hate Ben so much? What did he ever do to you? Jared Leto’s Joker was perfectly acceptable, dare I say good? I dare say. He was good. Not great, but good. Why did he get used as a sort of mcguffin the whole time? Need to further the plot in 30 seconds or less? Insert Joker scene here. Want to confuse the audience by making them forget that last scene about the Suicide Squad was stupid and pointless? Insert Joker scene here. That is just disrespectful.
Okay, so we stumble through 20 minutes of origin stories just to set up the team and the scenario. Then we assemble the team…oh wait, nope. We’re given some confusing crap about Enchantress and her brother (an even bigger mcguffin than the infinity stones in the MCU), there might have been a bomb or something, then the scene jumps between night and day about 20 times and dumps us into the “assemble the team” scene. Promptly, you give us 2 more characters, Katana and some other guy who left the team literally 10 minutes later, who do not matter at all and totally undermine that first 20 minutes of origin story crap. Then you shoot them all out of the sky and dump them into a movie full of zombie guys with burnt popcorn for heads. I thought I was watching a super-hero/villain movie, not Mystery Science Theater 3000! It is now halfway through the movie and I literally begged the TV for this movie to end.
Nope. Let’s just insert 30 more minutes of the Squad possibly escaping…then not actually doing so. Oh and they have to rescue their boss who is a bigger villain than all of them combined. Honestly! Captain Boomerang (why did his character make the cut?) robs banks and this woman openly blackmails every government official ever into accepting what is clearly the most idiotic plan in the universe. Seriously! Why wasn’t this woman assassinated before the movie even started? Are we supposed to believe that the American government is so stupid as to let such an ill-tempered, egomaniacal moron with no real plan bully everyone into giving up such a ludicrous amount of power?
Okay. You got me there. Stupid 2016 election.
So I made it this far into the movie. At least give me an ending I can enjoy where everyone cleverly uses their unique abilities in tandem in a combined effort to thwart the villain(s) no one of them could stop on their own. Or, instead, you could make the big brother mcguffin (nigh unstoppable by a man who literally turns into a fire-demon fueled by Hell itself) walk over a bomb as it explodes. Boom. Oh, and that bomb was something we are going to pretend we didn’t know about this whole time and reveal it like it was some clever twist worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan script. Which of those options is the better one?
That just leaves the sister mcguffin, who has up until now demonstrated that she has the same powers as (if not more than) her brother. Why is it that she suddenly can only fight with punches and smokey swords? What was that all about? And what better way to take her down than to…oh, heck. I don’t want to spoil it for the kids. But if you read this intervention rant very carefully, you’ll figure it out.
Final Analysis: You know what, DC? We’re not friends anymore. Friends don’t treat each other like this. I can’t even say you’re on notice after this one, because I was already saying that after Batman v Superman. We’re done. I don’t care what you do anymore. And yes, I know that means abandoning Ben Affleck to your terrible torturous scripts, but he’s a big boy. He knew what he was getting into. We all did after Watchmen (2009).
Final Verdict: 0/5 Stars (because you pushed me too far so I won’t even give you the 1 star for passable acting from half of the cast)
Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, and Ben Affleck. Released August 5, 2016