For years, Batman and Superman were the only two comic book characters to capture enough of the public’s imagination to warrant multiple movies. Now, the appetite for comic book movies is apparently so great that Marvel and DC are trotting out characters so minor that only the most devoted comic fans have a good idea of who they are.
In Marvel’s case, their plan was so well thought out that Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man became hits despite the characters’ lack of name recognition. DC, on the other hand, has tried to rush the process, going ahead with Suicide Squad before giving solo movies to Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, or even Ben Affleck’s Batman.
Of course, that wouldn’t be an issue if Suicide Squad were any good; unsurprisingly, in line with DC’s recent track record, it isn’t.
The badness starts with the film’s ham-handed introduction of its multiple main characters, including Will Smith’s Deadshot, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, and Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag. The laying out of their dastardly deeds by head honcho Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) manages to be both too much and not enough at the same time.
The idea that Waller is gathering together a bunch of villains to combat a possible super-villain is laughable in the first place, and the story never gets any better. Writer/director David Ayer brings in or dispatches characters at random, forces in references to other DC properties, and centers the whole movie on a fantastical character, Enchantress (Cara Delevigne), so ludicrous that it seems like they’re trying to make another Ghostbusters reboot.
The reason Marvel’s Avengers movies have worked — for the most part — is because fans have an investment in the characters. No such investment exists here, no matter how cool it is to see Diablo (Jay Hernandez) shoot fire from his hands or how weird Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) looks. Ayer never takes the time to make the audience root for the villains, a problem compounded by the lack of anything compelling for them to do.
Deadshot and Harley Quinn, along with Jared Leto’s Joker, who appears haphazardly, are the unquestioned stars of the movie. However, they’re featured so much that they transform from fun to boring about halfway through. Harley Quinn is the biggest victim, as her crazy demeanor is showcased so often that it ceases to be enjoyable and instead turns grating. It doesn’t help that Robbie’s New York accent is thicker than even the one she used in The Wolf of Wall Street.
It’s plain to see now that the burgeoning comic book movie wars are over almost as soon as they began. DC, led by producer Zack Snyder, seems to have no clue as to how to properly use its characters, while Marvel keeps chugging along, laughing all the way to the bank.