Hello and welcome to my newest ongoing feature: Skeleton of a Better Movie where together we explore the premise that inside every shitty movie there's a leaner smarter movie screaming to get out. Our task is to gouge past the bloated waste of dollars and follow the screams.
Needless to say, this is a format that is laden with spoilers. Recognize, accept and we'll move on.
Squad Goals!!! ... and Joker.
Today, we are tackling Suicide Squad, DC's first try at pulling out of the grimdark tailspin that Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman had locked them into (obviously, Wonder Woman was much more successful at this)
Ironic, given that the original Ostrander comics were pretty damn dark anyway (albeit leavened with the comedic stylings of Captain Boomerang) in a quasi-military-espionage-with-superpowers sort of way.
Anyway, after Guardians of the Galaxy came out to massive success, DC thought "hey, we can do that" and did reshoots and new trailers with catchy upbeat indie tunes. Hooray.
"Heathens" is a great song by the way.
Movie still turned out to be shit -- but only mostly shit and it made a decent chunk of change.
Alright, enough preamble. I give you .... SKELETON OF A BETTER MOVIE!!!
and ... heeeere .... weeeee ... go!
for starters, Suicide Squade should have been a hard R, not whatever weaksauce rating it actually got. Deadpool (and Blade long before) proved R-rated superheroics can succeed spectacularly
cold open should have been Enchantress and her brother in the antedeluvian past. So his phylactery doesn't come out of fricking NOWHERE
Belle Reeve etc as before. I rather liked the asshole Warden. Whole prison sequence was cool, let's keep that.
oh and have Superman's death happen during the movie so Waller has to scramble for a new hook in her pitch to the generals which leads us to ...
... so hey, remember that weapons program document she teleported and stole as a demonstration for the Joint Chiefs? That should have been the mission for numerous reasons ----> (1) it fits the kind of mission old-school comicbook!Squad used to go on in the Ostrander days (2) makes Slipknot non-useless before his inevitable death (3) gives the stakes somewhere higher to go -- I mean, wouldn't it have been nice to NOT have YET ANOTHER superhero movie with YET ANOTHER cosmic-toilet-on-fire in the sky at the climax?
also? easily could have saved Final!Boss!Enchantress for the second or even third movie. And saved her stupid dance for never.
would have been nice to have one of the generals or spooks point out that "Hahaha, this bunch of losers is your anti-Superman deterrent? You're full of shit, Waller" and then have her counter that the Squad makes (a) a great proof of concept for the real anti-Kryptonian squad and (b) you don't call up what you can't put down.
should have had the mission go FUBAR from multiple angles (such as Boomerang gaming Slipknot into making a break for it a little later -- thus at least giving Slipknot long enough to get one or two badass moments before dying like the expendable mook we all knew he was)
this is the part where we take a moment to point and laugh at Sir Slipknot THE USELESS
-- unanticipated metahuman opposition (good way to insert some old-school Squad enemies here -- like Rustam for instance or the Hayoth. They were fun)
-- Waller not telling the rest of the team that the ulterior mission (known only to Flagg and Moone) is to steal a mystical artifact
-- Waller herself not knowing the artifact is Enchantress' bro's phylactery, Enchantress herself not knowing either till she gets close enough to sense it
-- maybe the weapons program WAS an attempt to weaponize the magical phylactery (again, unknown to all but Flagg, Moone and Waller)
-- someone dying because Katana took her mission as keeping Flagg alive and NOT as helping HIS mission
-- WHOOOO JOKER INTERRUPT
-- the phylactery breaks open AND/OR is deliberately broken open by SOMEONE and THEN you have your bubbleface magic zombie mooks spreading like an infection through the soldiers, scientists and employees. Thus turning the perfectly servicable metahuman black ops mission into a Cthulhuoid nightmare of magic and powers and madness
Basically? That old chestnut about no plan surviving contact with the enemy and its corollary, that no enemy plan will (or should) survive contact with you.
- it then becomes a race against time to find a solution before Waller blackmails an ally in the region into nuking the joint or repositions a kinetic harpoon killsat over their heads
- headshots and spineshots and kneeshots and eviscerations will render the magic bubbleface zombie mooks temporarily hors de combat so Deadshot, Harley, Boomerang and Croc can still have their fun but ...
- El Diablo can kill them dead (first sign that his fire is special
- Emphasize this with Deadshot using incendiary rounds and NOT achieving the same effect
- Katana's weapon is the only other thing that keeps the monsters down because her weapon is a soul-prison and Enchantress' bro is in essence a viral soul now. Every time she kills one, she gets a piece of him stuck in her blade
- perhaps she figures it out before anyone else, stabs the phylactery and SAVES THE DAY by doing so. Enchantress is transcendentally furious ON THE INSIDE, Waller can call off her WWIII-inducing airstrike and all is well ... hahahahah yeah right.
Katana now has the soul of a monstrously ancient, powerful and evil sorcerer trapped in her blade, blackmailing her from the inside 24-7 with Enchantress HATING HER WITH THE FURY OF A THOUSAND SUNS from the outside, THE SQUAD is now united in their loathing of Waller (well, except maybe Deadshot and Harley, the former because he is Floyd's complete lack of surprise, the latter because she didn't particularly care to begin with)
Then there's the stuff that could have been improved on the individual character level:
one of the very few legit cool moments in the movie? Yeah it is!
additionally, have her foreshadow El Diablo's true nature and Katana -- or at least Katana's katana (instead of Flagg's stupid stupid stupid line about not being careful not to get killed by her)
metahumans are something genuinely new, broken science as distinct from magic. They hint at this in the movie. This is a good thing.
she should have been less powerful in the real movie (at least for now); should have needed blood sacrifices and glyphs and tools to achieve effects (dead enemy soldiers make great source for components. Rest of team winces. Except maybe Harley who is fascinated)
her goal with the brother's phylactery is to turbocharge her power level to what we saw in canon. Now she is forced to wait for the sequel just like the rest of us (and is really pissed at Katana. See above)
obviously, she wants the katana now. Sequel fodder!
for starters, let's not have her be just along for the ride, eh?
- She could totally be Not!Lara Croft (PhDs out the ass plus wingsuiting cavediving adrenaline junkie)
- have her contending seriously with The Enchantress, hard enough not to let her kill Flagg (or Katana)
- although her preventing the latter is more out of spite for her mystic roommate than any love for the swordswoman
- rapidly becoming OR already was Waller's mystical consultant in her own right
- might explicitly make him metahuman though. Give him the Bullseye killset as well (inhuman accuracy with ALL projectile weapons, not just firearms)
- maybe he doesn't know he's a metahuman and maybe Waller uses it against him psychologically -- or Flagg does, vindictively ("What, you actually thought you were 'just that good'? Nobody is just that good !")
- maybe the classic comicbook!Deadshot deathwish gets expressed as being willing to be cut by Katana so his soul doesn't go to hell especially now he knows supernatural shit is real
- maybe she tells him that inside the sword is worse.
Let's make this explicit, why not: Joker's chemical soup is an accidental makeshift super-soldier serum with unfortunate effects on mental stability. Hence, Harley is straight-up ultraviolent metahuman escape artist with voices in her head (and also, yoga aerialist) while Joker is ... Joker
- maybe the enhanced reflexes mean everyone is in slow-mo which is frustrating and she acts out and Joker too and they see each other at normal speed and so and hence, luuuuuuuurrrrve
- discovers (to her amusement) that she is in all seriousness not the craziest person on the team
- essentially same character arc as the existing movie (surprised by feelings that just might be loyalty? to these people plus/and/or liking not being in Joker's shadow for once, yet still bonded to him by their mad love or whatever)
- his tattoos? Nobody knows this -- except maybe him and Enchantress -- but NO HUMAN HANDS put them there
- makes Enchantress uncomfortable. Doesn't know it.
- maybe HE's the one who is very comfortable with dying to Katana's soul-sucking blade because he doesn't want to go to hell after all he's done
- yeah, I like it for El Diablo. Guilt over his family, emphasizes just how messed-up these individuals are
dumbest line in superhero movie history since "What happens to a toad when it's hit by lightning?"
- Katana intro scene could have been vastly improved with LESS exposition and more mystery. Just stop at "This is Katana. She's got my back."
- Have it turn out later that she is extremely literal about that; let's have a sequence where she seriousface watches a member of the Team die because they are NOT Flagg. Like Cameron back in Terminator: SCC letting that woman die. Because Terminator. During the mission, she only lifts a finger to protect Flagg or herself. In that order. Until, you know, character development.
- The soul-taking we see later and it is fucked-up.
- Enchantress can be the vaguesposition fairy and foreshadow it -- poorly (cue Deadshot yelling at her later "Lady, a simple 'that thing steals souls' woulda been REAL HANDY A MINUTE AGO!"
can't have two black guys in your superhero movie, the spacetime continuum might sustain a wedgie!
- Croc was essentially perfect. Just play up the superstrength and the aquatic infiltrator abilities even more (perhaps, he does a little underwater demolition and insertion practice with the SEALs during a quickie training montage and has some fun with it, swims rings around them and whatnot. They are low-key pissed because this shit is the handwriting on the wall: Tier-1 special ops pipe-hitters with years of hardcore training/experience getting sidelined by freaks with bullshit powers
wooooo Tier-1 pipehitters fuck yeah!
- some vindictive insecurity about metahumans taking his job, hides it better than the boys on his spec ops security blanket he brung with him but it's there
- I loved how he was constantly the most badass damsel in distress throughout the movie. We have to keep that!
- the noodle incident that resulted in Katana becoming his sworn bodyguard, will we ever get to see it? The World May Never Know
- how does Moon feel about it? Good question
- THINKS he knows how exactly hardcore Waller is. Doesn't. Learns by the end of the movie and finds himself in the same position as Harley: surprised by strange and unfamiliar feelings of 'is this LOYALTY?' toward the team
got nothing bad to say about her. Viola Davis always rocks.
- perhaps during her pitch to the generals she could say something like "Einstein (or whoever) once said he didn't know what weapons WWIII would be fought with. Well, thanks to the big blue Caucasian falling out of the sky, we do now." One of the generals can later rebut with "he concluded that quote with 'but WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones.' Careful what lamps you rub, Waller; you might not be able to put the genie back." Or something in that vein.
- Deadshot gives Waller the Black People Upward Nod. You know, the one where Black Person A sees Black Person B in a position of unexpected but welcome success in America or some other white people land. We saw a touch of that in canon when he dissed Flagg but we could emphasize it more. He legit respecks her for being a black woman AND an unequivocal shadow powerhouse of the Deep State, the underbelly of the military-geopolitical complex. She recognizes that respect and somewhere deep inside the ice and iron that makes the Wall, is quietly delighted because she is black from the hood and she GETS IT -- yet she exploits that respect just as ruthlessly as she does everything else because that's just how the Wall rolls.
- ... yeah, i got nothin' for him. Fuck that guy.
- I think I might be one of the eleven people on the planet who actually liked this version of Joker, Miley Cyrus panda suits on the mooks and dumbass grill and all
- that part after he gets Quinzel to jump into the Joker chemical soup and then finds he literally CAN'T make himself not go in after her? Perfection. That part was brilliant; the surprised-amused-resignation on his face, the dive, the music, the clothes, everything just worked in that sequence
- also kind of didn't mind the Deus Ex Joker bullshit of him managing to show up in the middle of classified black ops a million miles from Gotham. He's the Joker, he kicks Batman's ass all day, he ain't gotta explain shit.
Alright folks, thanks for reading this long-ass thinkwank all the way to the end. Hopefully, you enjoyed it and will bring your friends and money next time. Heck, why wait for next time, you've got seven days to make this post awesome. @cryplectibles, I'm looking at you :D
If @cheetah shows up, well, that's because I have posted some of this content elsewhere on the internet -- specifically, RPG.NET so there.