The Suicide Squad: A Not-So Reboot, by Grace Zurawski
With a revamped Harley Quinn, a far-away country, and a miscellany of wacky anti-heroes, The Suicide Squad appears to be an expected reboot at first glance. Many expected it to simply be an continuation of 2016’s Suicide Squad (sans the “the”), but found a brand new concept upon viewing. With a mismatched combination of B-list characters and an entirely different plot from the David Ayer film, James Gunn’s 2021 release proves itself surprisingly unique.
Sequels are notorious for almost never living up to the original, so I’ve always been wary of follow-ups to my favorite films. But the fact that The Suicide Squad only shares most of a title, a few characters, and a remote premise to the original Suicide Squad gave me a bit of hope this time around. With a fair amount of humor and some key action scenes, this film follows the classic comic movie concept. Two task force teams are sent to Corto Maltese to destroy the Jötunheim lab holding the top-secret Project Starfish. These teams consist of Belle Reve maximum security prison inmates that join missions under U.S. Intelligence Officer Amanda Waller, in exchange for time off their sentences. With most of the first task force team being wiped out upon arrival, the second team of mismatched criminals is left to complete
One of the main changes for The Suicide Squad is the director. David Ayer, the original Suicide Squad director, was replaced with James Gunn, who brought extensive rebranding and a new concept to the franchise. Gunn contributed to the Guardians of the Galaxy films, which was just the beginning of his character-transformation talents. Humor was clearly a huge factor for Gunn, as hilarity was clearly the film’s shining star. Comedian Pete Davidson even has a short-lived feature with some humorous lines before his unfortunate death with the first task force. Overall, Gunn’s version is a fun and lighthearted departure from the typically gritty DC film universe.
One of the most obvious parts of the new movie is the lack of the Joker. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is now on her own, and has been since Birds of Prey and the Harley Quinn TV show, which both pushed the Joker out of the spotlight and let Harley explore her newfound independence. The original Suicide Squad gave more attention to her, but with no Joker in the reboot, she could do whatever she desired (according to the mission, of course). She manages to attract a potential fiancé and gets things done her way. The Joker’s missing presence might be called a missed opportunity for some, but Harley’s growth makes the loss worth it.
If you’re finding it hard to recognize Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) or Blackguard (Pete Davidson), you’re not the only one. With two task force teams, there are a lot of new characters introduced. Polka-Dot Man is the peculiar result of an experiment gone wrong and faces a troublesome relationship with his mother, one that literally follows him everywhere. Ratcatcher 2, the rat-controlling daughter of the original Ratcatcher, brings out the emotional side of others. Though most of these are not as widely known DC characters, the obscurity of them gave Gunn the freedom to make them whatever he wanted. People didn’t have tons of preconceived notions about them, so these smaller characters could be molded into the director’s own vision to become unique and identifiable.
Overall, The Suicide Squad was an enjoyable, though barely related rebranding of the original Suicide Squad. The potential for a new plot and inclusion of hilariously obscure characters drew me into seeing what this film could offer. At the end of the day, I don’t think The Suicide Squad is exactly all it was played up to be: It’s not particularly revolutionary, and I didn’t think it was special enough to be a regular rewatch. That being said, if you’re looking for a laugh and some classic entertainment value, The Suicide Squad is worth a watch.