3:11pm PT by Aaron Couch
4 Things That Were Actually Quite Good in 'Suicide Squad'
[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Suicide Squad.]
Warner Bros.' Suicide Squad has been getting hammered this week by critics, and it's true — there are some major problems with writer-director David Ayer's film. It's universally agreed that the villain Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) does not work, while the editing gives the sense that there were multiple visions at play for the film. (In fact, there were, as the behind-the-scenes problems detailed here reveal.)
But is this film really that much worse than some of the superhero pics that have preceded it in recent years? Last year's Fantastic Four was a disaster. Films like 2014's Amazing Spider-Man 2 and 2013's Thor: Dark World were merely adequate. They were watched and then promptly forgotten, all without minimal outrage or mockery.
For whatever reason — perhaps it's the hype, perhaps it's just how much is riding on Suicide Squad following the divisive Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice — there's been plenty of talk about how this movie doesn't work, but little examination of the things that do.
To that end, here are four things that stood out in this flawed movie as being legitimately good:
The Joker and Harley's twisted love story
It's likely there will never be a comic book performance that tops Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, and there will certainly never be a better Joker. Jared Leto had the biggest shoes to fill of anyone in the cast, and he delivered something new that also felt familiar. While Ledger's Joker insisted he was not crazy, that's not something Leto's could ever try to claim. This Joker's actions follow no rhyme or reason. He kills a man who rejects Harley Quinn's (Margot Robbie) advances out of respect.
The only logic behind his actions is his drive to be reunited with Harley. Surprisingly, this Joker seemed to have more affection for Harley than the version played by Mark Hamill in Batman: The Animated Series, where Harley Quinn was introduced. Though the brutal way he twists her into his love is disturbing, Hamill's Joker was actually more cruel (in one episode, it's revealed he planned on blowing up the city without rescuing her from prison.) Leto's Joker doesn't seem like he would do that, and that raises terrifying possibilities for what they might be able to accomplish together.
After Harley dives into the pool of toxic waste, Leto's Joker looks like he's going to leave her to die, but then he hesitates. There's a slight flicker on his face (is that guilt?) before he dives in to save her. Throughout the movie, his driving force is to free her from custody, with the Joker ultimately rescuing her from prison. Given his undeniable insanity and unpredictability, this tiny human attachment gives Leto's Joker an element yet to be explored on the big screen, and that's an exciting prospect for future films.
Anticipation for Harley Quinn also was incredibly high. It's not every day an A-list character is introduced on the big screen, and Robbie delivered a performance that felt worthy of the excellent portrayal by voice actress Arleen Sorkin in Batman: The Animated Series. How insane was it when Harley tried to swipe at Batman with a broken windshield, even though she can't swim? How about her needing nothing more than a baseball bat to cause mayhem? And in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, it's revealed via the text biography that flashes during her introduction that she is the one who killed Robin (as teased in BvS). Bring on that solo movie, please.
Amanda Waller really is in charge
You don't get much cooler than Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), but Viola Davis was as cold as it gets as Amanda Waller. At times, she is downright unlikable (like when she kills her employees because they weren't cleared for what they had witnessed) — and that's the point. But the most badass moment came when it was revealed she manipulated Batman (Ben Affleck) into capturing Deadshot (Will Smith). Think about that for a moment. She got the World's Greatest Detective to do her dirty work. That's a little harder than manipulating a tipsy Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) into joining The Avengers.
... Speaking of Batman
Marvel Studios did an incredible job of building anticipation leading up to The Avengers in its Phase 1 movies. But as much as we love Coulson (Clark Gregg) or seeing a magical hammer in the middle of a New Mexico desert, Warner Bros. trotted out A-list characters like Batman and Flash (Ezra Miller) as the connective tissue to the larger DC Extended Universe. And we finally got to see Batman (ever so briefly) go up against a series of rogues, from Deadshot to Joker and Harley Quinn. No more fighting faceless goons or Kryptonians for Batman. Most fans came out of Batman v. Superman craving a solo Batman movie with Affleck, and this only adds fuel to the flame.
Jai Courtney ... is good!
Yes. You read that right. Jai Courtney, the handsome actor who seems to perpetually be getting blamed for the less-than-good tentpoles he stars in, is quite good in this movie. As the crass Aussie Captain Boomerang, he is genuinely funny, providing some of the much-needed humor the trailers promised (but which the film did not deliver enough of).