First, Spoiler Alert if you haven’t been watching so far. Lex Luthor is Black. I must admit that I got excited when I saw him. We’ve only seen him once so far, but we know he is Black, wealthy, technologically advanced, and angry. I tried to get into the show Krypton and just couldn’t do it, but Superman and Lois treads a more familiar path, and perhaps pathos. How can one feel pity for a superman? When Superman is trying to eek out a normal existence as a husband and a parent while also trying to be available to save the world at a moment’s notice. Being the world’s savior is the life that he chose, but he couldn’t possibly have imagined all of the consequences that would come along with it. And, how does one prioritize being a family man at moments when the world also needs you.
So far, these themes are being explored in Superman and Lois on The CW. CW sci-fi shows are very hit or miss, but they seem to be taking their time with world-building. Clark Kent is the father of twins, one struggling with mental health issues, and husband to Lois Lane. Lois Lane is as she always is- a strong, trail-blazing reporter. However, they are having trouble connecting as a family and, due to the death of Martha Kent and the risk of losing the farm, end up moving back to Smallville. Also as usual, Superman wrestles with the themes of success and superiority based on natural ability vs. meritocracy and what that means for society as a whole.
Thus far, Lex Luthor is not the main villain of the show, which is good because it leaves the viewer guessing. I am looking forward to seeing if they can flesh out Lex Luthor’s character and motivations, and particularly, whether his Blackness will play any role in his everfresh beef with Superman. We shall see.
I confess that I’m a big Will Smith fan. Even after all of the misunderstood comments, side-eye at his kids’ creative commentary on reality, and the questionable choice to star in Focus. I still love Will; can’t help myself. So, of course, I went to see Suicide Squad on the opening weekend. Didn’t hurt that I received free tickets (hype!).
So, let’s get into it. The early reviews for the movie were bad. Well, bad is actually kind of an understatement. At the time of writing, Rotten Tomatoes has the movie at 28% Rotten. Not sure I’ve ever seen a rating so low for a big movie. The reviews were so bad that my mind went into C-O-N-spiracy theory (word to Damon Wayans). Was the Man trying to hold DC Movies down? After the bad reviews for Batman vs. Superman, is Disney/Marvel trying to stomp down any challengers to its superhero movie dominance? It couldn’t possibly be that bad, could it?
Yeah, it was pretty bad.
As much as it pains me to write this, the movie was bad. I tried. I tried to keep an open mind. I tried to see it as what I think it was supposed to be: a setup for future movies. But, as the movie continued, the more I found myself thinking this sh*t can’t be happening.
The plot of the movie, in a nutshell, is a bunch of society’s misfits with either given or honed special powers assemble to fight a supernatural power that all of our mortal weapons are woefully inadequate to destroy. There are guns, lots of fights, CGI, a love story, all the good stuff you’ve come to expect out of a superhero flick.
On deck are:
Will Smith as Will Smith with a Gun/Deadshot
Jared Leto as Tony Montana/Joker
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. No jokes here, she did a great job.
Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg/Angsty Eyebrows
Viola Davis as Annalise Keating with a Gun/ Amanda Waller
Jay Hernandez as Diablo
Jai Courtney as Digger Harkness/Boomerang
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc. Sigh.
Cara Delevigne as Dr. Moone/Enchantress
Adam Beach as Slipknot
Karen Fukhara as Katana
Common as Monster T
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne
Got it? Good. There will be a quiz later.
That’s a lot of characters to set up in one movie, right? I agree. That’s the main problem with the movie; it’s all over the place for no good reason. Each character gets between 3-5 minutes of backstory, save Slipknot who gets 10 seconds. In fact, maybe less, he is summed up in “He can climb anything.” Then, he dies. Bye Slipknot. Native Americans may be salty as sh*t at this. Frequently a black person is the first to die in a movie, but even we get more screen time than that.
Deadshot has a kid who doesn’t want him to be a mercenary anymore. Diablo has the most juice of any of them, but he’s sworn off killing in an attempt to quell his demons. Dr. Moon gets possessed by Enchantress. Amanda Waller is a sociopath in a pantsuit. Katana is emo-crazy with a sharp sword. Killer Croc is… well, we’ll come back to that. Harley Quinn gets the most backstory to setup the quixotic obsession that she and Joker have with each other. Speaking of which, why is the Joker even in this movie??? Jared Leto, reportedly, stayed in character the entire shoot by playing pranks and doing some downright disgusting things to his co-stars (i.e. sending them used condoms). Was he hoping to win an Oscar with this role? He either needed to be in the movie or not at all. After some thought, I think not at all. He should have his own movie focused on Joker and Harley Quinn, because the snippets of their relationship development made no sense in the movie. What kind of magic stick/mind f*ckery did he do to turn Harley Quinn out like that? Please get him on Oprah because inquiring minds want to know.
The problems with the movie mainly come down to pacing and tone. It’s serious one moment and lighthearted the next. One minute, the team is a bunch of strangers; 15 minutes and some drinks later, they are talking about how they are family and friends. These are bad guys, the baddest. Does game recognize game? If so, how do you build trust like that with folks you don’t know? Do you have to test their loyalty first? The was a sharp sigh in my theatre when Diablo started talking about messing with his “family”.
Speaking of Diablo, he was the only character whose story offered any emotional range. He was the only one I came to care about during the entire movie. His gift caused him to harm the people he loved the most. Well, him, and Deadshot’s daughter. Batman pops up to try to wrangle Deadshot and her little tail stepped in front of Deadshot’s gun. I know that they were trying to Pursuit of Happyness Will Smith’s character, but bye. First off, it’s Deadshot; he still could’ve hit Batman without her moving because HE’S DEADSHOT! Second, I know Daddy had a talk with his little girl about not interfering in grown folks bizness! But, whatever. If I had pulled that, my dad would have turned into a 10 foot tall monster like Enchantress’ brother. Trust.
Deadshot did have the funniest moment in the movie when he was making demands, one of which was to ensure his daughter went to an Ivy League school and, if she couldn’t cut it, to “White people that thing. Y’all know how y’all do”. In-joke about meritocracy. There was some polite tittering at that line in my theatre with a few full belly laughs. The kind of laugh that says, “Pause the movie, you heard that sh*t, right.” I don’t know who they came from; it was dark.
That could have been the end of the movie and I would have felt satisfied. But, there was more.
Cara Delevigne’s Dr. Moon/Enchantress was the main antagonist in the movie. Dr. Moon was possessed by Enchantress after having found an idol containing her spirit in a cave. Dr. Moon was sweet and yielding and fell in love with Rick Flag, but her other side was the complete opposite. Enchantress got free and all hell broke loose, literally and figuratively. Now, here’s where it got hinkey for me. Why were the plots of X-Men: Apocalypse and Suicide Squad so similar? Apocalypse, like Enchantress, was this ancient Big Bad that was extremely overpowered and used to being worshipped as a God. Both were trying to construct something that caused massive destruction around the world. Was it half-off script day at Starbucks? The similarities made me wonder whether this was the reason for the obvious editing mess that was Suicide Squad’s end result. I’m sure we’ll never know, but it is irritating because Suicide Squad had sooooo much material from which to draw.
Anyways, the movie goes downhill into complete drivel and silliness that isn’t worth recounting. The one upshot was Enchantress doing the drunk/crackhead shimmy while trying to conjure her magic. Cara should be angry about the role she was given. Why did a witch found somewhere in South America have a British accent? This has got to be the downside of being beautiful. Nobody takes you seriously. Everything you do is just great (including looking like the little girl from The Ring). But, then again, you get a role in a major movie, so I guess it’s a wash.
This might be the most diverse marquee of any big budget movie. That makes the clusterf*ck that this film turned into all the more sad. Let’s imagine what could have been: one focused backstory with other supporting players (probably should have been Amanda Waller’s story), no Joker, and a better villain. Hey, they could even bring Slipknot back in the retconned sequel! And, maybe, they’ll do better with Killer Croc. Yeah, I know I said I would come back to him. How you gon’ do Adebesi from Oz dirty like that, David Ayer? He’s an excellent actor. It probably would’ve been better if they just didn’t have him speak. His one intelligible utterance was about getting BET in his cell in order to watch what appears to be the long defunct BET Uncut. My eyes rolled so hard that they nearly fell out of my head. I guess David Ayer figured that there were so many black characters in the movie that it was fine to make Killer Croc one massive and continuous stereotype. I can’t call it.
**1/2 Stars. I have the feeling a better movie exists in the deleted scenes. The movie is still going to make a ton of money, but DC can still hold this L.
So, what say you?
* Yes, I totally forgot that Monster T was the first to die, Jason. Fight me.