Harley is perfection, continuing her journey from Birds of Prey
It can get a tad draggy at certain moments
You may have to watch the first Suicide Squad to fully appreciate this... but it's worth it!
Make no mistake, The Suicide Squad is still a sequel to the original 2016 entry, and is fairly set in the DCEU as most of us currently recognise. That said, it is one of the very few movies wherein the sequel is FAR stronger than the original. Be it the reduction of studio involvement, or a better understanding of the characters, or perhaps just learning from previous mistakes, The Suicide Squad delivers in a every way where many other DC movies have failed.
That isn’t to say the DC formula has been altered to replicate the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s. While the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has clearly had issues in finding itself over the last 8 years (yes, the DCEU’s been around for that long), The Suicide Squad, like Birds of Prey before it, seems to have found the sweet spot needed to differentiate itself from the MCU’s almost homogenised tone. And it does so without sinking into the pallor of the likes of Batman V Superman.
In the interest of keeping things spoiler free, there’ll be little discussion on the line-up of the characters, however it should be mentioned that the cast was nothing short of perfect. Familiar faces from the James Gunn stable of actors, such as Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, and even a cameo by his brother and other Guardians of the Galaxy cast member Sean Gunn, The Suicide Squad succeeds in delivering even fourth wall-breaking humour.
It’s a pleasant surprise that The Suicide Squad is unashamed of maintaining much of the stylisations of the original (though maybe it should have been expected given Gunn’s usual stylistic preferences). While 2016’s Suicide Squad was quite the mess, it still served as a far more functional film than most of the DCEU’s other attempts.
Beyond functioning as a sequel to its predecessor, The Suicide Squad also functions as Birds of Prey, continuing hopes for an actual sequel for what might still be the best DCEU film. It would be an interesting choice if WB chooses to employ this method of freely allowing the sharing of characters, in key roles and not just cameos, over their film entries.
While the MCU may have set the precedent for a live action, theatrical shared universe, the more universe building aspect remains confined to specific points of crossover—primarily in the Avengers movies and Civil War. The more “free” sharing of characters in the DCEU may serve the franchise a tad better. From the Batman and Flash cameos in the first Suicide Squad, to Wonder Woman’s near-saving grace in BVS, characters transiting between films may help keep the DCEU fresh and even differentiate it from the MCU.
Remarkably, James Gunn may actually be a better fit for the DCEU over the more sanitised MCU. While the first Guardians of the Galaxy was great, the second was little more than a congested mess. The free reign reportedly given to him on The Suicide Squad may have allowed the director to do a lot more than he ever could under the auspices of Disney. Ironically, The Suicide Squad even feels more original and genuine than 2016’s Suicide Squad‘s cheap knockoff attempt at Guardians of the Galaxy.
But The Suicide Squad is far more than just a re-skin of Gunn’s venture with Marvel. If anything, it’s a lot closer to 2012’s Avengers. Coupled with a more well-rounded attempt at developing characters across the board, The Suicide Squad also finds strength in focusing the core heroism among the conflicting personalities of these characters.
All of this ties together especially well considering the ambiguous nature of their villainy. While questionable parental figures is a recurrent theme (something almost all superheroes apparently share), The Suicide Squad navigates the team’s various childhoods towards explaining their proclivity for villainy.
Except King Shark, that dude’s just cool.
Oddly enough, The Suicide Squad’s greatest achievement, one which only Birds of Prey previously achieved, is in successfully delivering a hero’s tale. Where Batman, Shazam, Aquaman, and even Superman have failed to appear as the selfless non-moronic characters they usually are in the comics, DC has somehow succeeded in presenting outliers as actual heroes. And it’s damn well done.
The Suicide Squad is in theatres now, and is definitely worth the watch!