Five years ago, the highly anticipated Suicide Squad graced theatres… and promptly disappointed. Today, the sequel simply titled The Suicide Squad has come to set the record straight. The two films have been received incredibly differently, with the original being met with ridicule and the sequel with praise. While both films try to do essentially the same thing, James Gunn’s direction of The Suicide Squad captures the true essence in the comics better than any other DCEU film. Let’s jump into some of the differences in our review of The Suicide Squad.
SPOILERS: Warning there are spoilers ahead.
The biggest difference between the two is the overall tone of the films. It’s clear from early promotional material that 2016’s Suicide Squad was meant to have a much darker tone. Following suit with DCEU films of the time, it was going to be much more macabre. But when comedic promotional material was met with high anticipation, the film took a turn. The result is a film that was meant to have a dark undertone becoming a feature-length trailer with half-formed comedy.
The Suicide Squad of 2021 leaned right into the comedy from the get-go. Snagging an R rating as opposed to the original’s PG-13. This allows the film to lean into gore and language the best befits the characters. So while the film is funny, it is dark in the subject matter. Furthermore, the film leans into the ridiculousness of the comics. Pivotal characters include the goofy Polka-Dot Man and King Shark, with some characters like Calendar Man being background Easter Eggs. The big bad is a giant extra-terrestrial starfish. Rather than try to ground these characters, the film embraces their goofiness and accepts them as part of the universe. Whereas the 2016 version would have tried to make these characters realistic and dark.
The 2021 version has a less self-aware Deadpool tone. It’s gory but it isn’t crude. It’s violent but it’s also ridiculous. It captures the fun that the 2016 version failed to.
No doubt the breakout character of both of these films is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Arguably the only good part of the 2016 version. But these films in conjunction with Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey gives her an incredible arc.
In the 2016 Suicide Squad she is hyper-sexualized and dependent on the Joker. Her outfit is impractical and designed to show off her body. She is entirely defined by her relationship with the Joker. Portrayed as pining and insane with love, and is incapable of existing without him.
Birds of Prey did some amazing leg work for her character. It can even be argued that the film, which received unfair criticism, paved the way for The Suicide Squad. The other R-Rated DCEU film, it shows a post-breakup Harley. It gives her an opportunity to grow outside of him and come into her own as a unique and dynamic character.
And in The Suicide Squad, she is wholly independent. She’s not hyper-sexualized. She’s wearing comfortable shoes rather than stiletto heels and is completely independently capable. We watch her develop relationships with other characters and stand on her own. She even kills a romantic interest when he starts to show red flags.
Harley Quinn is the heart of these movies and is maybe the most important character in them. She might even have the best arc in the entire DCEU. Making her a whole character, rather than sexual eye candy, already elevates The Suicide Squad several notches over the original.
The centre of both these films is the found family aspect of the squad. But the original doesn’t earn its payoff. El Diablo makes a statement about “not wanting to lose another family,” and sacrifices himself to save the squad. But that statement feels empty. It’s hard to believe that the other squad even likes each other, let alone views the other as family. The film spends no time building those relationships and throws these characters from set piece to set-piece.
But in The Suicide Squad, we spend time with these characters. We watch them develop friendships through good dialogue and story beats. These characters and their motivations are clear, and the interactions they have with each other are intentional. Not once in The Suicide Squad is the word family mentioned. These characters don’t need to outrightly
state their family; we can tell just by looking at them. Where Suicide Squad was on the nose about everything, The Suicide Squad is much more nuanced. It does the work to get to its more emotional story beats.
Sequel or reboot?
Some people have taken to calling the 2021 Suicide Squad a reboot of the first, rather than a sequel. And they might be right. It’s a deliberate decision to call the film The Suicide Squad rather than Suicide Squad Two, and almost every original character did not return. There’s only four that make it to both films. Viola Davis’Amanda Waller, the mastermind behind the suicide squad. (And Davis is good in everything). Of course, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag. And Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang. Who is subsequently killed off in the first ten minutes of the film alongside every character we’re led to believe is this movie’s suicide squad. A shocking and fun action sequence that sets the tone for the movie.
Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag even get a reboot in this film. While he was generally disliked in the 2016 version. In this film, he’s a fan favourite. Rather than being a “America-Forever-I-Bleed-Red-White-and-Blue” soldier, Rick Flag is forced to deal with the evils of his own government. He even dies while trying to expose their corruption. We see him genuinely care about his team, displaying a heartfelt friendship with Harley.
Other than those four, our core cast consists of John Cena, Idris Elba, Daniela Melchior, Sylvester Stallone, and David Dastmalchian. Playing with a new cast of characters and old characters revamped, it almost does feel like a reboot. It’s a sequel to the 2016 version in concept and a few recurring characters only. Not only does this film reboot the Suicide Squad, but it also feels like a fresh start for the DCEU.
After so many flops and disappointments, this film breaths hope into the future of the DCEU. The film feels new and adds a fresh spin to our traditional formulaic super-hero film. It definitely above and beyond exceeds expectations.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of The Suicide Squad. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our thoughts on what went wrong with the original Suicide Squad movie HERE.
Read IMDB information about The Suicide Squad HERE.
9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies
There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.
1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)
Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.
2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.
3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.
4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.
5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)
Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.
6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)
I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.
7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)
This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.
8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)
We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.
9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.
That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.
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