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.
That new Suicide Squad trailer sure was fun huh? It actually seems public opinion has shifted for this movie, although I was never really among the detractors. As a huge fan of the Joker, hearing he’d be played by Jared Leto perked my interest, and while his appearance doesn’t really fit the Clown Prince’s general style (the Joker of the comics and the animated series has always presented himself as a warped vision of a 1950’s dad), this Joker has potential. Based on the trailer, it seems like Leto is going with a bit of a cartoony lilt when voicing the character, which is very encouraging so far. The other character I’m concerned about of course is Harley Quinn (just like 90% of the people going out to watch this movie, I’m mostly in it for the Joker and Harley), and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve seen so far. I’ve always thought that Margot Robbie was great casting, and her performance alone seems fun and engaging. My only potential issue is her seemingly fluctuating accent, where she has none during the first half of the trailer, but has one on during the closing line. Seems like a nitpick, but inconsistent accents drive me nuts (looking at you Kalinda Sharma).
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.