A lot went wrong with Suicide Squad. Just from a technical perspective, it was a disaster. The editing was a mess, the script was shockingly poor, and even the action couldn’t save it because of how badly lit it was. The movie failed on almost every level, but even if all those areas were up to snuff, it still would have sucked because it fell through on the big things. Just speaking in terms of plot and the writing decisions that were made, Suicide Squad never stood a chance. Here are the 5 big reasons why.
With the release of Warner Bros’ Suicide Squad , and the marketing focus on a huge part of people’s interest in the film, the Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship, there’s been a wave of the exact same sentiment repeated ad nauseam on social media, that this relationship is toxic and should not be endorsed on any level. Going on any social media platform and searching the words “Joker and Harley” invites an avalanche of people lecturing no one in particular to “Stop shipping these 2! It’s abusive!” or some variation of “When I see a person who ships those 2 I think they are TERRIBLE and get MAD!”. The phrase “shipping” refers to basically anything having to do with wanting two people to be in a romantic relationship with each other, it usually refers more to potential couples rather than established ones, but it has evolved into being more of a nebulous term for fictional couples (and sometimes even celebrity ones). The Joker and Harley Quinn relationship has become a particular point of interest because it is not a healthy relationship, it is an abusive one between two very dangerous people. The knee jerk reaction becomes outright rejection of it among several circles of the internet, to the point of intolerance of anyone who enjoys watching them together. But it’s in that where people are overlooking what so many people liked about the pair in the first place.
Here’s an interesting fact about the DC universe that you may not know: It features not one, not two, but three prominent super intelligent Gorilla villains in its universe. I have no idea why this is the case, but I’ve always thought it was interesting. Another weird aspect of this is how different they all are. Ya, they’re all evil genius gorillas obviously, but their inceptions and backstories are very distinct. These 3 apes all developed independently of each other from different writers, which makes it extra strange that separate DC writers kept going to this “brilliant ape” well. Gorilla Grodd, Monsieur Mallah and the Ultra-Humanite are big hairy apes who can kill you with their bare hands or some elaborate death trap. Here’s some basic things about them.
There are many, many reasons to dislike Zack Snyder’s awkwardly named Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. A miscast villain here, a forced Justice League tie-in there, and a confused attempt to mash the stories of The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman together ruin what should have been a slam-dunk of a movie. There are a ton of weird choices that went into making this the disaster that it is, but the most alarming to me has to be the way Batman was characterized in this film. Ben Affleck gave a fine performance as Batman, but the central issue with his character all comes back to his hotly debated “no killing rule” that gets more than a little bent in this film, and more critically, entirely ignored. Fans have debated whether or not Batman should even have such a rule for years, “The Rule” has served as a central plot point in both The Dark Knight and Under the Red Hood films, and Batman himself exists as likely the most iconic practitioner of this rule in fiction. My issue with Snyder’s Batman isn’t that he kills criminals (directly and indirectly) with sadistic glee, but that it happens without any discussion within the film for what that means for Batman. I know the last thing this film needs is more pseudo-philosophical drivel shakingly spoken by insecure meat heads, but in this case it’s kind of an important thing to get out of the way.
Batman: Endgame acts as a conclusion to the story Scott Snyder started with Batman: Death of the Family. Both stories centre around Batman and Joker’s relationship, and both stories focus on the love and hatred shared between these two. From the very beginning, these two stories seemed to have the goal of redefining comic book’s greatest rivalry, with many commenting that they have done exactly that. I would argue however, that these stories (with Endgame in particular) clarified aspects of the relationship between the Batman and the Joker that have always existed, but shown more effectively than ever before. Never have these dynamics been as well connected as they have been in these stories.
Bruce Timm recently announced at this year’s Comic-Con that the seminal Alan Moore graphic novel, The Killing Joke, is finally getting an animated adaption. Most of the reaction has been positive since this is one of the greatest comic book stories ever told, but there has been some dissenting opinions among those concerned with Barbara Gordon (AKA Batgirl) and her portrayal in this story. Famously shot and crippled by the Clown Prince of Crime, Barbara is stripped naked and has pictures of her body and crying face taken and used by the Joker as a means to drive her father, Jim Gordon, insane. Many have argued that this was a sexist way to treat Barbara (who still continued to fight crime as the Oracle after the incident), but that assumption comes with what in my opinion amounts to a fundamental misunderstanding of the story itself. I’ve written about this particular controversy before in another post, and I’ve even gone over the fact that this plot point was only ever allowed to occur due to blatant sexism (Alan Moore’s editor told him to “cripple the bitch” when he asked for permission to do this to Barbara). Even with all that, I still absolutely have to make my piece on this subject since there already seems to be a backlash brewing over this.
Recently, this variant cover of Batgirl #41 by Rafael Albuquerque has been making waves on the internet, and it’s clear why at first glance. Even without understanding the deeper meaning behind the imagery, it’s easy to understand why so many feel this cover is misogynistic. This is a chilling piece of artwork, and something everyone agrees on is the fact that it was exceptionally well drawn. On a surface level, this is a creepy picture of the Joker victimizing Batgirl, but to those who have read the seminal Alan Moore graphic novel, The Killing Joke, the imagery carries a decidedly darker tone. For those that don’t know, during the events of The Killing Joke, the Joker approaches the Gordon household, rings the doorbell, and when Barbara Gordon (Batgirl’s secret identity) answers the door, he shoots her through the spine (an act that paralyzes her and nearly ends her crime fighting career). Afterwards, he has his men capture her father, the police commissioner Jim Gordon. In a plot to drive Jim insane, the Joker strips a bleeding Barbara, snaps pictures of her naked body, and leaves her to die on his way to show those same pictures to her father (who is also to be stripped and degraded in a horrific sequence of events); all while wearing that tonally inappropriate tourist outfit he is sporting in that cover. It is one of the most striking and horrific moments in comic book history, and it is what the artwork above is harkening back to.
Scott Snyder’s Batman: Death of the Family is one of the most ambitious Batman stories I’ve ever read. It is one that seeks to make a definitive statement about Batman’s relationship with his arch-foe and it succeeds in doing so in a way that was never done before. The attention to detail and the obvious reverence Snyder has for the source material is palpable. The Joker is simultaneously at his most loving and deranged in this horror story as he takes Batman down memory lane and makes a serious effort in emphasizing why their relationship is so important, and why the one he has with his supposed family is the part of Bruce’s life that truly needs to be destroyed. The characterization of the Joker in particular is what proves to be both this story’s greatest strength and weakness.
I should probably clear up the fact that, yes, the phrase “triple standards” isn’t a thing; however, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the best way to describe the situation we find ourselves in with race and casting in Hollywood. Casting the right actors for movies (and superhero ones in particular) is arguably the most important part about making one. Who you cast seriously affects the box-office turnout, the strength of your film, and its critical reception. There is a lot that goes into picking who should star in your movie because that process alone will mean the difference between success and failure. Thanks to the potential for prestige and adoration enjoyed by many prominent actors (and perhaps a genuine passion for the craft), there is a huge number of people aspiring for roles in films; all of which coming from wildly different backgrounds, but the unfortunate reality is that while many of them would like to be movie stars, most will fail miserably. A huge factor in this is the discrepancy between race and representation in Hollywood.