2016's Suicide Squad produced by David Ayer is agreed by most audiences and critics alike to have been an unfortunate tragedy. With forgettable antagonists, arguably the most cringeworthy rendition of the Joker in contemporary history, and a main cast with plots and characters so contrived and boring they'd make Iron Man Two's story equivalent to Citizen Kane's by comparison, it's widely agreed upon this movie was a Warner Brothers travesty. Thus, James Gunn had a rather imposing task of repairing the Suicide Squad's legacy whilst also remaining true to the goofy nature which its predecessor had blundered so egregiously. Suffice to say, the decision to hand him the directorial reins was strategic brilliance. THE Suicide Squad distinguishes itself as a hilarity-inducing maddening Summer Blockbuster with a surprising amount of messages regarding American imperialistic politics and moral convictions mixed in with the gory violence and zany wackiness these mismatched super-criminals are known for. So how exactly does James Gunn's newest cinematic entry supplant the awfulness of its predecessor while simultaneously setting new bars for the DCEU? Let's find out and get into this!
First off, Suicide Squad takes no long-winded introductions to characters we all know are going to perish in the most gory and otherworldly manners possible in minutes hence. Right off, we're introduced into the plotline. U.S Government bureaucrat Amanda Waller is attempting to prevent Latin American autocrats from weaponizing a superweapon. At least, that's what the narrative seems on the surface. As the movie progresses, we learn Waller's ultimate goal within Corto Maltese. Nonetheless, we hop right into action with a group we expect to be following throughout the remainder of this showing. We are introduced to a legion of characters that are almost immediately killed off in the following scenes. It's rather sad all things considered, especially since some of the characters, notably Captain Boomerang, are a fan-favorite that managed to survive the original's scrutiny. It's ultimately the characters of Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, Ratcatcher, Rick Flag, and Polka-Dot Man whom we follow as they both rescue Harley Quinn and attempt to complete their mission for a lessened life sentence.
Now, for a comic book movie, these characters are excellently layered and motivated. Bloodsport's desire to redeem himself in the eyes of a troubled daughter, Ratcatcher's innocence being stripped by her father's drug addiction but finding comfort in rodents of all things, Polka-Dot man's horrendous abuse via his mother's insane superheroing ambitions, King Shark being a rather adorable fellow beneath the facade of a monster, and Harley Quinn being an unhinged psychopath as per usual. The villains of this movie, well... it's a bit complicated to explain. Because there are several, and it's difficult to pinpoint the evil on a singular entity here. There are the obvious picks of Corto Maltesan dictator Silvio Luna and General Martes, I think his name was, but... they were really just forgettable two-dimensional stand-ins for the real antagonists behind the scenes. You could say Starro was the main antagonist, given that his role in prior DC media has been that of a hostile alien invader, but in this universe, he was simply an innocent lifeform traversing the universe, observing the cosmos with an insatiable wonder. In reality, I believe the true main antagonists of this movie are represented through Amanda Waller and Peacemaker; the embodiments of American imperialism.
You'd be surprised at how seriously a movie about Polka-Dot men and humanoid Sharks and evil starfish from outer-space takes themes of imperialism, nationalism, and political corruption. Every party in this movie is driven by some desire to see their society and country bettered through use of force to put other nations down. The Corto Maltesans desire to use Starro's capabilities to invade the world and create an empire atop their fallen civilizations. Meanwhile, Amanda Waller's true motivation for dispatching the Squad into Corto Malta is removing evidence that it was America itself that wanted to use Starro for militaristic ends, even after the Cold War concluded. Peacemaker kills Rick Flag to secure the American agenda, a move that he very clearly regretted and will likely continue to remember with immense guilt when his own solo series begins on HBO Max (which I'm very interested to see how that'll turn out.)
The new Suicide Squad is truly THE Suicide Squad. The movie fans of this franchise deserved and were robbed of in the original 2016 release. With a multitude of plotlines established, such as the introduction and unlikely survival of the chittering Weasel, to Peacemaker's upcoming solo journey and the now-freed Suicide Squad running out and about in spite of Waller's ambitions, I'd say this has been the greatest addition to the DCEU since heavy-hitters like Aquaman, Shazam, and of course, the Snyder Cut!
Speaking of... expect a mega-review on that soon enough. It'll be my longest yet.