Your eyes do not deceive you, this is a "hot take" from some internet rando trying to find something interesting to say. If the idea of this offends you, please scroll past it and just read some of our old comics. BUT IF you want to think about some of the things a recently released movie did right despite a pretty brutal critical reception, read on:
One of the most common complaints about Suicide Squad from the major critics was that the film was "a mess", meaning that the seams of its troubled production were clearly showing and the tonal shifts were sloppy and jarring. Throughout the movie there's weird little cuts, moments, and musical cues that don't QUITE fit. I caught multiple moments when you could tell that they replaced the film's original soundtrack with a nostalgia-rock song just to make the grimy visuals seem more irreverent when they were clearly shot to elicit fear or shock from the audience. BUT, just because they're obvious didn't mean they weren't effective. That goofy/twisted tension honestly made it feel more like a comic-book universe than previous efforts, going from psychopathic murder to non-sequitur jokes is more true to modern-era comics. Humble opinions and all that, but a spoonful of sugar was just what Suicide Squad needed.
I know there are some Deadshot fans who are upset that Will Smith's version of the character (who has had a steady presence in the DC universe for decades) is pretty much just "Will Smith with guns" but here's the thing... WILL SMITH WITH GUNS IS STILL PRETTY COOL. Smith's Deadshot is insanely watchable onscreen. I suspect it might be because my nostalgia-crusted face is overjoyed to see him back to shooting monsters, cracking wise, and caring about impossibly precocious kids like the 90s never ended, but it doesn't change the fact that he was given the role of "stubborn assassin with a heart of gold looking for redemption" and delivered.
I'm not 13 years old, but I do remember that special stage of life where acne, anger, and awkwardness descends upon unwitting kids and makes them reject childish things for... slightly less childish things. Man of Steel and Batman V Superman does have (quite embattled) fans who found Snyder's dark tone to be more reflective of what they wanted instead of Marvel's universally-beloved quip-fests. But the SKWAD captured that giddy thrill of telling your first dirty joke on the playground or the rush of late-night HBO at your friends' sleepover. Knives, guns, booty shorts and panda masks, the atonal mish-mash of the violent and the silly reflects the Internet generation more than the gloomy-philosophizing of Snyder's entries. To reiterate, I'm not 13 anymore, but if we're going to indulge 13-year-olds I'll settle for two murder-clowns making out in a vat of acid over a ham-fisted Jesus metaphor any day of the week.
Amanda Waller is such a good character. A powerless human bureaucrat who stands face-to-face with demigods without blinking. Capable and willing to get her hands dirty to accomplish goals that she truly believes in. And for an overweight Black woman in a comics universe filled with more well-known space aliens than minorities (that was a joke nobody freak out), she's been the focal point of some amazing stories since her introduction in 1986. Viola Davis kills it, she IS Amanda Waller onscreen, the unflappable culmination of how scary the American government can be, and how badass it is when that terrifying unchecked power is actually on our side (OR IS IT).
Ok, so the "story" of this movie is hot trash. There's an ancient evil seeking a big doomsday McGuffin that works on the world's vaguest countdown timer and it culminates in a big swirling mess of CGI garbage that exists solely to be the climax of the movie. But I can't be mad about this anymore. Almost EVERY superhero movie on earth has done this by now. I'm actively curious if "final battle where the villain gets the evil McGuffin and there's a bunch of CGI bullshit and then the heroes win by sheer force of will" is actually a preset built into Final Draft screenwriting software. Here's just a FEW of the previous superhero movies that did this:
I'm not going to praise a lazy unoriginal villain plan, but I'm not going to lose my monocle because another superhero movie painted by the numbers. I'm just thankful they cut the fat out and just let us spend more time with the characters we actually liked. They didn't pretend that there was anything more going on than "save the world, rescue the princess, blow up the thing".
Ever since its acquisition by The Walt Disney Company, Marvel Studios stopped being the scrappy underdog with something to prove and became a multi-billion dollar investment that needed to be protected. While we still get gems like Captain America: Civil War, the cracks are beginning to show (looking at you over there, Age of Ultron). The future of the "DC Cinematic Universe" is genuinely in peril if they keep delivering massively budgeted critical flops that fail to have long-lasting resonance with its intended audience, but after Suicide Squad I'm hopeful to see it keep going. The more competition the better, and if they keep tweaking with the gag-to-grime formula (and tell Zac Snyder to loosen up those ham-fists jusssst a little) I think there's some cool stories left to tell that will keep the rest of the industry from playing it too safe.