DISCLAIMER: No spoilers abound for The Suicide Squad. Proceed with ease.
David Ayer‘s Suicide Squad debuted in 2016 to lukewarm, and at times downright contentious, reception. So, when DC fans learned that James Gunn would helm a sequel (Reboot?) of sorts, there was, understandably, some reticence. He may be Marvel’s star pupil, but could he revitalize the DCEU? As much as I adore Gunn, even I approached The Suicide Squad with a hint of hesitancy. I’ve been burned before, you see.
Thankfully, that hesitancy melted away upon watching it.
If you go into this film thinking you’ll get a carbon copy of Guardians of the Galaxy, then allow me to strip you of that preconceived notion. The Suicide Squad is significantly darker, bloodier and grimmer than Gunn’s previous Marvel work.
However, there are elements and aspects of Gunn’s signature style that are prevalent here. Those moments that make you go, “Ah, there it is. There’s the James Gunn I know and love!” Gunn’s usual fare deftly strikes the perfect balance between heart and humor, and this flick is no exception. Additionally, there are weird, delightfully outlandish bits that have Gunn’s name written all over them.
You can tell he’s a staunch believer in proper character development. Despite their “villainy,” you can’t help but become smitten with these characters. He ensures they’re fleshed out.
Of course, creating multifaceted, endearing villains beyond the stereotypical “mustache-twirling” isn’t a novel concept. But in Gunn’s hands, it soars to new heights.
Notably, with Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2. Her performance will, undoubtedly, launch her career into the stratosphere. She imbues Ratcatcher 2 with so much nuance and tenderness. Melchior pours her heart and soul into this character.
In addition to Melchior, Margot Robbie shines as everyone’s favorite clown princess. While Harley Quinn is a character that’s innately boisterous and larger than life, Robbie’s depiction of her is grounded in truth. Idris Elba and John Cena also churn in solid performances.
I’d be remiss if I left out King Shark, voiced by the wonderful Sylvester Stallone. If you told me I’d fall head over heels for a humanoid shark and grow to love rats after watching The Suicide Squad, I’d tell you to think again. But that’s exactly what transpired. King Shark steals the show alongside Ratcatcher 2. James Gunn is inexplicably adept at making us love anthropomorphic creatures/plants (See: Groot.).
If there’s one thing you should expect from this movie, it’s this — expect the unexpected. Don’t grow overly attached to anyone. Gunn brutally throws character convention out of the window. He mercilessly slaughters characters you assumed would survive the film. This is an aspect I thoroughly enjoyed. It keeps you on your toes.
The humor and dialogue are quite explicit, as is the overall tone of The Suicide Squad. This serves the story well. Never once does the violence or language feel gratuitous. Clearly, DC let Gunn go hog wild, and it shows. You can tell this project was cathartic for him.
While some comic book properties appear to be non-stop, relentless action, Gunn makes sure to give us respites from the blood and gore. These moments give the film time to breathe and infuse it with unexpected poignancy.
The Suicide Squad, while Guardians of the Galaxy it is not, almost feels like a mature older sibling to Gunn’s previous Marvel outings. Even the soundtrack consists of more “grown-up” indie/alternative rock tunes. It perfectly complements the action. The flick also uniquely uses visuals to propel the narrative forward.
Overall, this film is a win for the DCEU. James Gunn pens and helms a delightfully macabre adventure that’s part-war epic, part-dark comedy and a whole lot of fun. Strong performances from an all-star cast bolster it. Moreover, it doesn’t take itself too seriously — a pervasive issue for past DC projects. Here’s hoping that this injects new life into the DC universe.
If you’re craving some good ole fashioned bloody fun, then you can’t go wrong with The Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad is now in theaters. It’s also streaming on HBO Max until September 5.
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