#MovieTalk Suicide Squad 7.5/10

Since it’s still fresh, I’m going to say as little as possible about the actual film. Lots of good stuff, some regrettably missed chances to knock this out of the park but overall, a good setup for more missions and a nice branching out of the DCEU.

Let’s talk about comic book movies for a minute: At this point I’m SIGNIFICANTLY more interested in what DC’s doing in terms of building their universe than Marvel. It’s not cos one’s better than the other but that these things just have patterns, highs and lows. Marvel has settled into a quippy, unchallenging, formulaic-yet-highly watchable rhythm and they’re making $1bn-a-movie at this point so it’s clearly working for their bottom line.

On the other hand, I’m in awe of the risks Warner Bros is taking with what should be their biggest franchise. Look at the DCEU directors: Zack Snyder, whose history is heavy, sex- and violence-filled comic adaptations; Patty Jenkins (director of Wonder Woman) whose only other movie was serial killer, crime drama “Monster” for which Charlize Theron won her Oscar; and now David Ayer, whose previous credits are World War 2 drama “Fury” and mothafuckin “Training Day”! Not the first names that pop into your head when you think of candidates to make large scale superhero movies. Oh and James Wan, the writer/director of “Saw”, “Insidious” and “The Conjuring” is on tap for “Aquaman”, while Rick Famuyiwa who made last year’s Sundance hit “Dope” and the underrated 90’s black bromance “The Wood”, is handling “The Flash”… Are you fucking kidding me? How awesome is that!

What that does is it gives this set of movies an identity that’s instantly distinguishable from Marvel, which has had a few years’ headstart in building its universe and done an excellent job of taking these movies to the grand scale they currently… ummm… scale. (Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy was unquestionably the other side of that coin but Warner Bros didn’t leverage that into an expanded movie-verse, instead basically rebooting things with 2013’s “Man Of Steel”.) Anyways, the point is, as movie fans, we get to enjoy the cheery, satisfying, bubblepop of Marvel, and wrestle with the divisive, ambitious Rubik’s cube that is the DC Extended Universe and never feel like we’re watching slight variations of the same thing.

It sounds like I’m shitting on Marvel and even though I feel the Avengers stuff has become cloyingly predictable (“Oh no, Tony’s fucked up by acting selfish and trying to single-handedly save the world again and surprise, surprise, it’s backfired again, now we have to clean this mess up AGAIN… bla bla bla HULK SMASH cute quip witty barb…”), they’ve been branching out in exciting ways too with the exhilarating “Guardians of the Galaxy” which did for the origin story what I feel “Suicide Squad” wasn’t quite able to, and the mesmerizing “Doctor Strange” on the way this fall. “Black Panther”, too, is in the right hands and well cast… let’s just hope Marvel will let super-talented “Creed” director, Ryan Coogler, make his mark and not interfere so much as to have him walk off like Edgar Wright did on “Ant Man” leaving us with a whiff of how glorious that could have been and an okay movie that coasted on Paul Rudd’s endless likability. Plus they got Spidey back so things are looking up!

When it comes down to it, making these kinds of films, franchise-starters on this scale ($100m+ budgets) and getting them right is colossally challenging and you’d be surprised how many times they fail. But here’s the thing: I’d rather a movie like “Suicide Squad” that takes lots of huge swings and misses lots of them, than something like “Ant Man” or “Thor 2” or the last 3 or 4 films featuring Tony Stark, that aim medium and succeed at being simply good movies that don’t really mean anything in the larger framework of this ever-evolving genre. “Huge swings and misses” is a terribly irresponsible and inefficient way to run a studio but boy, oh, boy that one time it connects…

I’m in the minority here and by “minority” I mean it’s literally me and one other guy, but I think Batman Vs Superman was that absolute smash! I enjoyed it in every possible way and it left none of my curiosities or desires unsatisfied. I watched it 4 times on the big screen and gave each viewing an indisputable 10/10, and it’s okay that virtually no one else shares my love for the film. I’ve finally accepted that. But they produced a superhero movie that made grown men cheer (LOUDLY) for Wonder Woman and made little kids cry. Each of those things happened every single time and all I’m saying is if you can challenge your audience to subvert their own expectations so dramatically, then you’re doing your fucking job.

“Suicide Squad” has a dope soundtrack.



Written by Rich Wagaba (2)

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