Suicide Squad is not a perfect film, but neither is it a hot mess suitable for derision. You just wouldn’t know that based on the critical reaction. From complaints about a confusing plot to complaints about the large number of unknown characters, we’ve been led to believe that Suicide Squad is one of the worst movies ever and that we should all be mad accordingly. I’m here to tell you that that’s not the case. With that in mind, here are five reasons that Suicide Squad is better than you’ve heard:
Characters You Love
Do you know why Spider-Man is stronger than the Winter Solider? Because he’s more popular. It’s the same reason Batman and Superman end up being evenly matched in a fight. The most popular characters are always the toughest and the strongest. If Captain Boomerang was more popular, he’d be leading the Justice League today. Popularity matters.
That brings me to Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, who has no superpowers, but in another sense might have the best power of all. She’s a fan favorite – you know who she is – and since newly-minted-movie-star Margot Robbie is electrifying to watch on screen, she kicks ass harder than anyone.
Will Smith, meanwhile, is a long-time movie star who plays a guy named Will Smith, whose powers include charm and audience appeal. In Suicide Squad,Will Smith plays Will Smith about as well as Will Smith has ever Smithed. That means that Suicide Squad has at least two characters people have heard of, and that’s more than enough to sell an action film. As for the others, well…
The NSYNC Corollary
Suicide Squad doesn’t have as many heroes as it seems. Screen time is distributed according to star weight, which means that only a handful of characters actually matter: Harley Quinn, Will Smith, Amanda Waller, and Rick Flag. The villain and the supporting cast receive as much attention as they deserve. Don’t know who Katana is? Doesn’t matter, as long as you know she’s on the Squad.
Now, I will agree that Rick Flag got too much screen time. No one cares about him and the plot could have moved on without him. On the other hand, characters like Diablo were leveraged perfectly. If the Squad were a 90s boyband it wouldn’t be Backstreet Boys, where each member received equal billing; it would be *NSYNC, which means that everyone not named Justin Timberlake (or Will Smith or Harley Quinn) is a glorified backup dancer that doesn’t need to be there unless the plot requires it. Those characters can safely be ignored, so if you were confused because you thought there were too many of them, you weren’t counting properly.
You’ve Heard this One Before
The plot of the movie is simple: A recently discovered and/or resurrected villain wants to control and/or destroy the world, and it’s up to Will Smith and Harley Quinn to save the day with help from people of lesser importance. Substitute Harley Quinn with Beefcake Scientist and you’ve got the plot to Independence Day. Swap Beefcake Scientist for Space Cop and you’ve got the plot to Men In Black. It’s simple, and though there might be a bit too much expository dialogue, there aren’t any unforgiveable plot holes either.
The Joker is a very popular character, which would make you think he’d get top billing alongside Will Smith and Harley Quinn. Unfortunately, he’s awful in Suicide Squad (this time, the critics have it right). The problem is that Jared Leto is not a movie star, and you need a movie star to contain a character that big. Sure, Jared Leto has an Oscar, but Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson (also Oscar winners) were headliners before they put on the Clown Prince’s shoes.
The thing is, that actually works in the movie’s favor. The Joker is such a huge character that it would have been weird to have him play a minor role in the main plot. He instead plays a major part in the subplot, and is thankfully only in the movie for ten minutes. That limits the damage he can do. The Joker, as bad as he is, never swallows the movie, and keeps the focus squarely on characters like Harley and Will that are a lot more fun.
A Different Kind of Humor
DC is not Archie Comics. Sometimes it gets dark. When Marvel wants to fight another franchise, it fights Street Fighter. DC goes toe-to-toe with Mortal Kombat. However, that’s not to say that dark can’t be funny. If you pay attention, there’s a very funny joke about the right kind of pep talk needed to get a team fired up. Suicide Squad‘s brand of humor is dark, but in this case it still makes for solid summer entertainment.
Suicide Squad is not a perfect movie. It’s certainly not as good as the incredible trailers suggested. But it isn’t a mess, either. Rather, Suicide Squad is a tightly edited, stylishly designed movie with a decent sound track that features Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Will Smith, so go get the popcorn and enjoy.