The DC Cinematic Universe has taken a radical change of pace since the days of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, paving a path of thin ice standards for Zack Snyder’s iteration of the DC verse as a whole. Known for his film epic 300, Snyder has big shoes to fill in cinematography and storytelling for a malleable universe.
Snyder, who’s previously worked movies such as Watchmen, retakes the reins of bringing comic book superheroes to life through Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Known for captivating cinematic shots and slow motion, Snyder brings an obscure group to the mainstream on the silver screen: The Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad has been consistently rebooted in the comics throughout the years, as each parallel universe creates a new iteration of heroes and villains, but who are they? How does Snyder bring these characters to life? How do they tie in with the Cinematic universe?
Villains deemed to die, who you need to know
The Suicide Squad, a.k.a. Task Force X as referenced in the movie, comics, and Arrow-verse, is a ragtag band of villains forced to do good against their will. The movie iteration follows closely the New 52 series of DC comics, with a cast the brings personality to these ne’er do-wells that contrasts the Arrow-verse iteration.
Since the team is so large, it would be hard to talk about them all so we will focus on the key five.
Amanda Waller (portrayed by Viola Davis) is the cold, cunning, calculating ringleader of this malicious group, and has “recruited” them into the task force. Fans of the comics know how she operates and how she keeps them under a leash. Let’s just say she will give a major headache to anyone that opposes her. Her physical portrayal in the film is spot on with a hybrid of her image in Batman: Assault on Arkham (the DC animated movie about the Suicide Squad) and Arrow’s Amanda Waller.
To aid her in keeping the villains under control, Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) serves as the boots on the ground commander of the group. Flag is a real American hero — best of the best — and would give even G.I. Joe a run for his money.
Will Smith plays the man who never misses his mark, Floyd Layton, also known as Deadshot, Merciless mercenary who ruthlessly kills, while he does his best to be a caring father. Smith plays the character true to the comics with a small “fresh” twist to give the hard-cut character a more likeable nature, thus redeeming Smith as a superhero actor.
Margot Robbie makes psycho the new sexy as the always “vexing” Harley Quinn or Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Using her acting skills from Wolf of Wall Street, Robbie plays by the New 52, but reels in the crazy of classic Harley from the animated TV series. Quinn’s a psychologist turned psycho after falling in love with her patient, The Joker a.k.a. “Pudd’n.”
Speaking of the Clown Prince of Crime, people were questioning The Joker and his image after Jared Leto’s promo picture sparked controversy a few years ago. Critics claimed the thuggish look Leto gave would not match up to the anarchist played by the late Heath Ledger. They were right because Leto plays the Joker true to what he is in the comics, a psycho. Much like Ledger, Leto did some method acting to get into character, and in the movie he goes all out with the crazy combining Jack Nicholson’s mafia man and Heath Ledger’s calculating anarchist.
Other members of this colorful cast include El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) the man on fire, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) one of Batman’s notable villains, Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) the Australian boomerang bank-robber, Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) the ancient witch, Katana (Karen Fukuhara) the swordswoman, and Slipknot (Adam Beach) the grappling tactical assassin.
This cast holds true to comics that old fans love while introducing new fans to the dysfunctional family.
Plot played differently
The movie opens up with a colorful 40 seconds of logos, followed by neon lighting showing off the title of the film, where Belle Reve penitentiary, home to the most dangerous criminals, and a poster of the grim reaper captioned “till death do us part” greet viewers.
Set after the crisis of Batman V Superman, the American military wants to find a deterrent to the rise of meta-humans in case of a situation where a powerful meta-human is on the opposing side. Amanda Waller, being the clever tactician she is, is ahead of the curve. She brings up the idea of our faithful team of evil because they’re disposable.
Waller gives bios of key members of the squad, including Deadshot’s weakness, how she got Harley, meeting Captain Boomerang, and so on, introducing each member within the first third of the movie.
The pacing of the film delicately balances narrative exposition, flashback, and action. Shortly after a fairly cartoony live-action intro, the film makes use of Snyder’s cinematography experience.
One of Snyder’s best use of this is in portraying Harley’s insanity, using dutch angles where the camera tilts heavily and bubbling effects which are used to simulate a dreamlike state.
The costumes were well thought-out. Deadshot had his signature eyepiece and red suit; Harley had a change of… erm… modesty, going from her traditional unitard to a more modern scantily-clad rollergirl look; Killer Croc’s makeup was flawless, making him like an anthropomorphic man-dile; Katana had her signature white and red mask; and Boomerang had his sideburns and beer.
Overall, the film was a change of pace from the hero mentality in most super movies seen today, finally allowing us to take a closer look at the lives of the villains. However, with such a large cast and only a two hour runtime, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between each story as they’re all so in-depth. Suicide Squad is the first of its kind from the DC franchise, but hopefully not the last.
Do you think the DC universe should face the chopping board and be reset again or should it continue to move forward with the new Snyder-verse? Let us know in the comments below!