We all remember 2016’s Suicide Squad directed by David Ayer, whether we like to admit it or not. And whether we like to admit this or not, despite the failure the 2016 film is, it’s academy award winning, sigh. And recently, thanks to the viral hashtag that changed the film industry, demanding the Zack Snyder ultimate 4-hour version of Justice League, fans are clamoring over the David Ayer Cut of said film. The calling for this new hashtag #releasetheayercut is in response to learning of heavy studio interference from Warner. Getting that director’s cut of 2016’s Suicide Squad is no longer necessary because James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad more than makes up for any version that came before it.
How we got to this point with a sequel/soft reboot of this team of anti-heroes and super-villains stared with controversy. To make a long story short, Marvel fired James Gunn, the man who gifted us Guardians of the Galaxy over very old tweets. Those old tweets don’t define or reflect James’s current point of view (which he apologized for and took responsibility) and Warner took advantage of the situation and gave Gunn dibs on any character in the universe. Guardians of the Galaxy walked so The Suicide Squad could fly. Guardians is the fresh-faced recruit who just passed the police academy and is meeting his fellow officers at the precinct for the first time. The Suicide Squad is the grizzled veteran with borderline PTSD from seeing too much over the course of a career.
Yeah, The Guardians of the Galaxy & Vol 2 are about characters majority of the movie going public had never even heard of and The Suicide Squad follows in that same path. The only familiar characters that appeared in the 2016 film that return are Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), & Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Everyone else is brand spanking new but with big names attached to them. If anything positive is a result of The Suicide Squad the most, it’s the ensemble cast of reject and unknown characters that are all easy to root for and form actual connections with here.
Gunn, who also wrote the screenplay, gives his characters what was missed in the Ayer version, depth, development, and heart. Besides the hyperviolent acts of aggression and killing, these characters have souls, they’re not just expendable characters that we don’t care who lives or dies. They have families, trauma and they aren’t written to be pushed around even though Amanda Waller does what she does best and bribes the team with time off their multiple life sentences in exchange for going on missions. The first film spent way too much time on the back story, Gunn assumes we all saw that and summed up Waller’s contribution in the first 5 minutes.
It’s been said plenty already that this version of The Suicide Squad is what we should have gotten 5 years ago. With Warner, Gunn is unleashed, unapologetic and takes no prisoners or shows no mercy. Studio Interference hindered what could have been, but they obviously have learned their lesson this time around. The Suicide Squad is James Gunn, his signature style is plastered all over this film from the humor the gory hyper-violence to the music selection (I’m sure he had a hand in the music supervision). If any film truly embodies its director its this.
Emotionally, it’s the unexpected characters that carry this film from the moment we meet them to the very end. Harley Quinn will always be the big draw, and this is Margot’s best performance as the emancipated clown princess. But, as I said, it’s the unexpected that steal the show, taking your breath away and wishing we get more from these characters in the future. One of them being King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone, Stand-in Steve Agee). King Shark also appears in the equally brilliant animated series Harley Quinn so it’s obvious this version would be a standout and provide most of the hardcore action. Once “Nom Nom” is said, that’s the last thing you’ll hear alive. Next is Ratcatcher2 (Daniela Melchior) who is the emotional core of this ensemble cast with Taika Waititi playing her father. Finally, the true underdog of this film is Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchain) who you just can’t help but root for him and champion him when he’s on top of the world yelling “I’m a superhero”.
Rounding out the remaining ensemble cast that makes up the entire squad is Savant (Michael Rooker), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), T.D.K (Nathan Fillion), Weasel (Sean Gunn), Javelin (Flula Borg), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), & Peacemaker (John Cena). With the right director and writing Cena is golden, as Peacemaker, he is given some of the most memorable lines of dialogue in the entire film. Same can be said with Gunn and Dave Bautista.
As much as The Suicide Squad is a vast improvement on the previous film, the current version isn’t without its problems. The villain of the film doesn’t matter and used as a tool to unleash the kaiju Starro, the main attraction who is a giant starfish from space that can take over people’s mind’s and grow in size as a result. If any character was right up Gunn’s alley it’s Starro. At times that pacing is off-beat, slowing down in moments when things should be sped up leaving the film to feel longer than its 132-minute runtime.
What Gunn can achieve with a ton of freedom at his disposal is brilliant. His disturbed mind is perfect for this type of sandbox to play in. The more serious moments between characters aren’t followed up with a quick one-liner to keep the tone more lighthearted. We get to live with these characters grief and see how these characters became so screwed up because of their choices. Gunn yet again takes obscure characters and make them household names. I bet no one would have thought that Ratcatcher2 and Polka-Dot Man would be the stars of this film stealing all our hearts.
No, Bloodsport is not supposed to be Gunn’s Deadshot. Though very similar, the two are not the same.
For Warner and DC, The Suicide Squad is nothing short of a huge win. Their change in direction focusing all efforts on the solo film rather the inter-connected cinematic universe like what Marvel has achieved is working for them better. The Suicide Squad is a top four DCEU film that’s sure to get a sequel or other projects with Gunn’s crazed vision behind it. If Ratcatcher2, Polka-Dot Man and King Shark are the heart and soul of this film; Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker & Rick Flag are the backbone. The Suicide Squad is the perfect mix of humor, comic-book stylized action and violence and heart – the perfect summer blockbuster and return to the theaters after the global pandemic.
The Suicide Squad is written by & directed by James Gunn is Rated Rand has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Suicide Squad was released on August 6, 2021 in the United States and has a runtime of 2 hours and 12 minutes. The Suicide Squad can be seen currently in theaters and on HBO Max. 4 out of 5.