*Warning: Spoilers for Suicide Squad and The Killing Joke ahead
So by now, unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably either heard all the bad reviews for Suicide Squad, or you’ve seen it and drawn your own conclusions.
I’m not mad on adding to the hatred, but if the DC universe were ever going to nail a film, it had to be this one.
For once, it looked like they were going to capture the right tone and veer away from the unfounded fantastical seriousness that Snyder has brought into the universe. For once, the hope had some grounding. This was their shot to prove that they can make a decent ensemble film before they delve into the difficult and much beloved territory of the Justice League.
Don’t get me wrong. These kinds of superhero films are not an easy feat. But it was a mess, and was trying much too hard to build on popular trends from ensemble films that preceded it. The funky soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy; the playful atmosphere of the Avengers; the rampant sexism of every Michael Bay movie (actually, it was probably worse).
Okay, so that last one doesn’t quite fit in that thought process, but it still had to be said.
None of it fit together. Yes, a good soundtrack is always a bonus, but if it’s not part of the plot as it was with Guardians; then all these fun, loud songs remove you from the diegesis of the film. Yes, there should be a hint of fun between the core characters, but you can’t borrow a tone from another universe because it sold well, you have to find your own. Yes, sex sells, but please respect the fact that your audience has a brain. And while we’re at it, you should give the humour at least a hint of thought. Maybe delve outside Harley being sexy and playful, Boomerang being something other than a careless hick, and Deadshot fulfilling a racial stereotype? Maybe.
Jared Leto isn’t helping the situation either. His Joker was too dark for the film that it ended up being, and he had zero inkling of the Joker’s sense of humour. His appearances were nothing but disruption, and frankly the film could have done without him and his Sesame Street Count impression.
The thing is, it could have been good. It could have been great. There was so much pressure put on this film to really take DC live-actions out of the shitter, and they cracked. You could not get a better example of a ‘too many cooks’ analogy.
…I will say that Margot Robbie did do well as Harley, though she could’ve gone a bit crazier. Ezra Miller’s cameo in his first appearance as the Flash was a lovely surprise as well, but that essentially sums up everything that’s good about the film.
And I so very much wanted to like it.
I’ve always been a DC over Marvel person, but they just keep dropping the ball. It doesn’t seem to be confined to the live actions anymore either.
The long awaited adaptation of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke came out the other week as well, which was set to showcase everyone’s favourite Batman and Joker (Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill) in one of the best written stories exploring their dynamic. The DC animated films have always been solid; it’s a simple and straight-forward transition from graphic novel to animated film.
It seems however, The Killing Joke was not long enough to make the simple transition, which I understand. Yet, what I don’t understand is how they ended up with 30 minutes of questionable Barbara Gordon filler, which for a while, left me wondering if they had put on the right film.
Though some may argue that they used this time to highlight Barbara’s importance in the Batman universe; or that its focus on the notion of being taken ‘to the edge’ assists in diminishing the ambiguity of the ending… It still felt completely disjointed. When you sit the writings that are the equivalent to a poorly constructed stereotypical teenage girl’s diary beside the complex philosophical exploration of the Batman/Joker dynamic, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
The Killing Joke has more positives than negatives, as the actual adapted part, once they got there, was everything you wanted. Problem was, it ended up feeling like a Barbara Gordon story as opposed to a Joker one. They shifted the focus too much and it took a lot away from the film.
Two disappointments within a matter of weeks has just prompted me to just say: please DC/Warner Bros/Zack Snyder. I beg of you. If you’re going to continue, you need to find your feet and stop trying to turn your films into something they’re not. Marvel didn’t fall into its voice overnight. They got it right the first time with Iron Man, but lost it for a while with The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2 and even the first Captain America – nothing quite fully meshed until Avengers Assemble.
People are losing patience, but it’s better to take the time and nail it, rather than rush it.
So maybe go on a pilgrimage or something, I hear they’re great for finding yourself…