Suicide Squad: David Ayer’s film a labor of love — but still a mess

Deadshot

There are two things to know before walking into the theater to see David Ayer’s Suicide Squad:

  1. The movie has more love and care put into its first 30 minutes than Ghostbusters had in its entirety, yet critics rewarded Paul Feig with 73 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 27 percent for Ayer.
  2. Suicide Squad is a frustrating mess — particularly its last 30 minutes.

For those who have been living under a rock for the past year, the story goes as follows:

  • Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is tasked by the U.S. government to put together a team of really nasty people — some who are “meta-humans” — who are willing to confront comparably twisted threats.
  • Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Jai Courtney (Boomerang), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Killer Croc) and Slipknot (Adam Beach) are “recruited” (i.e., captured) for the job. Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Col. Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) take part in their big mission to keep them honest.
  • Waller’s key asset, Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), goes off the reservation, and before long a Ghostbusters-esque scene clears out an entire city.
  • The Joker (Jared Leto) is on a mission to rescue Quinn from Waller’s clutches.

This sounds like a solid movie, right? It is — at times — and the soundtrack is amazing. The problem for Suicide Squad, however, is that at some point it becomes obvious that the train is going to derail.

Harley Quinn

Perhaps the best example of how much Suicide Squad unravels over two hours comes with the supposed death of a key character. This person, for all intents and purposes, is seen during the climatic battle in very, very, very bad shape. After the crew saves the world, however, this person magically appears without a scratch — not one hair out of place — while wearing a spotless set of clothes.

“How are you not dead?” Deadshot asks.

The audience receives no answer.

Note to David Ayer: Just because you acknowledge a giant plot hole, it doesn’t make the hole go away.

Joker

Oddly enough, the one thing that probably could have made Suicide Squad a better movie would have been to leave the Joker out of it and save him for a showdown with Ben Affleck’s Batman. Jared Leto did not have the screen time needed to shine and his mission to save Harley had no impact on the plot.

Mr. Ayer should have used the Joker’s creative real estate to tighten up his script because the finished product is another mixed bag for Warner Bros. at a time when it needs an undeniable classic.

I suggest seeing Suicide Squad, but you do not want to pay full price. If you see it on an early Saturday or Sunday morning, then you won’t feel as though you wasted money.

Editor’s Note: No one working for Warner Bros. should be yelling “F**k Marvel,” and they really shouldn’t be copping an attitude until their superhero track record improves. It becomes difficult to show any sympathy for Mr. Ayer when this is the way he behaves on the big stage.

David Ayer F Marvel

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‘Batman: The Killing Joke’: First 30 minutes, odd sex scene overshadow Joker’s tale

Joker glass

Fans of Batman: The Killing Joke waited since 1988 to get their hands on an animated version of their beloved tale, but it has finally arrived. Is it possible for the product to be anything less than amazing with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill providing the voiceover work to a big-budget production of Alan Moore’s tale? The short answer: Yes.

Before we move on, let me first stay that I find central premise of The Killing Joke — we are all just “one bad day” away from becoming the Joker — rather intriguing.

The Joker says:

“Let me ask you something. What does it matter if you send me back to the asylum if it doesn’t matter to me? I’ve proven my point — Gordon’s been driven mad. I’ve demonstrated there’s no difference between me and everyone else. All it takes is one bad day. That’s how far the world is from where I am — just one bad day. You had a bad day once, am I right? Oh, I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed. Dressing up like a flying rat doesn’t hide it. It screams it!

You had a bad day and it drove you as crazy as everybody else, only you won’t admit it! You have to keep pretending that life makes sense, that there’s some point to all this struggling. You make me want to puke. I mean, what is it with you? What made you what you are?

Without getting into too many spoilers, I must say that specific scenes are incredibly thought-provoking, particularly when it comes to exploring the rule of law in a world populated with vigilante superheroes. The Joker conjures up a scheme to prove to his rival once and for all that moral relativism reigns supreme, and he certainly makes the case to those who are not eagle-eyed when it comes to spotting spurious arguments.

Joker Batman book

Where The Killing Joke fails, however, is its well-intentioned attempt to add extra depth and dramatic tension to the script.

Two words come to mind: Batman sex.

Batgirl kiss

Longtime DC readers can correct this Marvel fan if he is wrong, but has Batman ever appeared as anything other than a father figure and mentor to Barbara Gordon? This version of The Killing Joke turns Ms. Gordon into a smitten girl with impulse-control problems and Batman into a caped crusader who robs the cradle.

One can almost hear the internal monologue of screenwriter Brian Azzarello: “If Batman sleeps with Barbara Gordon, then it will sting him even more when he finds out that she was shot by his arch enemy. Then, when he realizes that the Joker raped her — yes, they have both been with the same woman — the audience will understand why Bruce might go over ‘the abyss’ in the end…”

The problem, however, is that a self-contained 30-minute tale simply cannot set the stage for a relationship between the two to grow. It comes across as forced and, quite frankly, creepy. Perhaps this reviewer is in the minority, but the bizarre nature of the scene lingered with me for the entire movie — so much so that I would recommend fans of the comic book consider skipping the first 28 minutes all together.

If you are a fan of DC’s animated movies, then I would suggest watching Batman: The Killing Joke when it comes out on Netflix. It is not worth the $14.99 YouTube charges if you are by yourself, although a fun night can be had if you split the cost three ways with a couple of friends.

Did you see Batman: The Killing Joke? If so, then let me know what you thought in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Editor’s Note: I always thought that the story behind “The Red Hood” was rather dumb. Moore’s attempt to humanize the Joker by turning him into a failed comedian always seemed lame to me, but I would like to hear a hard-core Batman fan’s take on the subject.

Jared Leto’s ‘Damaged’ Joker tattoo: Warner Bros. gives infantile culture the clarification it needs

Jared Leto Joker“Suicide Squad” director David Ayer has released an official version of Jared Leto’s Joker. Love it or hate it, one thing is clear: Warner Bros. thinks its target audience for the film is really stupid. In order to let everyone know that that The Joker isn’t a character worth emulating, a “Damaged” tattoo has been slapped across his forehead.

Most fans can get on board with a cheshire cat tattoo. They can accept a skull or playing cards. Writing “Damaged” across a villain’s forehead, however, just comes across as incredibly sad commentary on American culture. Warner Bros. could hardly do worse if “I am a bad guy” was scribbled across The Joker’s face.

When trying to decipher what studio heads were thinking when they decided to go the “We think our audience isn’t very bright” route, one must look for evidence that might lead them to such a conclusion. While there are many examples of moral relativism’s and political correctness’ adverse effects on our culture, perhaps the the most recent Joker-related evidence came in March; a bunch of feminists went into a white-hot rage over the character’s treatment of women.

Batgirl variantFor those who are unfamiliar with the story, a variant cover of Batgirl 41 was pulled when feminists deemed it “sickening.” Artist Rafael Albuquerque even turned on his own work, stating “My intention was never to hurt or upset anyone through my art. For that reason, I have recommended to DC that the variant cover be pulled.”

It should be no surprise that an intellectually infantile culture caters to its big babies, but that doesn’t mean we have to like the situation. Perhaps “Suicide Squad” will be a good movie. Jared Leto may turn out an amazing performance. People complained when it was announced that Michael Keaton would play Batman and they complained years later when it was announced that Heath Ledger would play The Joker. In both instances the critics were wrong. Regardless, American culture was in a vastly different place in 1989, and no one will ever charge Christopher Nolan with treating his audience like a bunch of children.

Twenty years from now, will Warner Bros. reinvent Batman in a way where Bruce Wayne tattoos “Hero” on his forehead? It sounds ludicrous, but there are days when it doesn’t seem too far fetched. With luck, maybe Ryan Reynolds will release a Deadpool promotional image with a strategically-placed “Anti-hero” tattoo, just to show the world how weird it has become. If he did that, then I’d be there opening night.

Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Lessons for Dealing With Jihadist Jokers

Jason Todd (the second Robin) makes a great point: How many graveyards has The Joker filled? How many people have to die before Batman does what needs to be done? At some point, isn’t it the morally correct thing to snap The Joker’s neck?

The Dark Knight was a great movie.  Even without viewing it through a political prism, it’s one of the best superhero flicks of all time.  However, its direct metaphors to The War on Terror were timely, and the way that it treated conservatism with intellectual respect was a pleasant surprise.  When conservatism is given a fair shake on the big screen it’s always a winner.  The debate as to why it’s not seen more often is fodder for many other blogs, but today I’d like to talk about Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Like The Dark Knight, it’s not afraid to tackle tough issues.  It’s made for a completely different audience, and the dialogue isn’t as polished as something Christopher Nolan would dish up, but it’s worth a watch.

For those unfamiliar with the story line, Jason Todd, the second Robin, died at the hands of The Joker.  In this story, Jason has returned from the dead under the moniker The Red Hood (one previously held by The Joker).  While it’s clear as the story unfolds that the process by which Jason was brought back to life has warped his mind, the climatic scene between Jason and Bruce is another springboard for discussing how we deal with a world filled with terrorists, dictators, and despots—men with no fear of reprisal and a complete disregard for the pillars of Western Civilization:

Jason Todd: Bruce, I forgive you for not saving me.  But why…why on God’s earth is he still alive?…Ignoring what he’s done in the past. Blindly, stupidly, disregarding the entire graveyards he’s filled, the thousands who have suffered, the friends he’s crippled.  You know, I thought I’d be the last person you’d ever let him hurt. If it had been you he had beaten to a bloody pulp, if he had taken you from this world, I would have done nothing but search the plant for this pathetic pile of evil, death-worshipping garbage and sent him off to hell!

Batman: You don’t understand. I don’t think you ever understood.

Jason Todd: What? What, your moral code won’t allow for that? It’s too hard to cross that line?

Batman: No. God Almighty, no! It would be too damn easy. All I ever wanted to do is kill him. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about subjecting him to every horrendous torture he’s dealt out to others—and then end him.  But if I do that. If I allow myself to go down into that place…I’ll never come back.

Jason Todd: Why? I’m not talking about killing Penguin, or Scarecrow, or Dent. I’m talking about him.

Jason makes an incredibly lucid point, here. There is a distinct difference between your average criminal—even super criminal—who still is connected by a few thin threads of decency towards his fellow man, and someone completely detached from reality. There’s a chivalry amongst liars with many of Batman’s villains. But The Joker is, essentially, evil incarnate. His loyalty is only to whatever madness his mind cooks up in the moment. Even worse, when The Joker is locked behind bars he’s still often able to plot and plan and execute (figuratively and literally) his twisted machinations. He exists completely outside the Rule of Law. And yet Batman still can not bring himself to pull the trigger, which, in this case, is a moral failing.

As Jason points out, The Joker has filled graveyards. He will continue to do so. And, just like the “death-worshipping garbage” operating around the world in lawless regions of Pakistan, Somalia and Afghanistan…and just like the “death-worshipping garbage” that plots and plans from inside the borders of civilized nations—using free societies to raise money and recruit foot soldiers for their cause—they are different. And should be treated as such. Not every illiterate, gun toting member of the Taliban is akin the The Joker. I’m not saying that. But when we’re having a debate about how to confront our nation’s enemies, we should accurately define them—and that’s a process that the moral relativism of today’s liberalism has muddied. We need clarity as we move forward, and we need politicians who aren’t afraid to articulate hard truths.

How sad is it that today’s liberal politicians would be better off if they just watched more animated Batman movies instead of listening to their handlers…

I love Batman, but I can’t help but think that ultimately he’s going to die at the hands of The Joker. Sort of like…countries that adopt moral relativism when it comes to jihadist ambitions around the globe.

Liberals Channel Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger’s Jokers On Immigration.

I’ve written on immigration a few times since Arizona stirred the melting pot (or was that a hornet’s nest?) not so long ago. Usually I tend to focus on guys like Seth Macfarlane running to his drug-smugglerless mansion after essentially branding advocates of reform Nazi skinheads, or Kanye “I’m dating The Ultimate Gold Digger: Liberalism” West teaming up with guys who want his mansion taken over by Neo-Aztlán warriors, who see Zach de la Rocha as their John Conner.

The Federal Government models its immigration reform after Jack Nicholson's Joker. "Hubba! Hubba! Hubba! Who do you trust?... Me? I'm giving out free money!"

The federal government shouldn’t model itself after Jack Nicholson’s Joker, calling everyone in for the entitlement goodies (“Hubba, hubba, hubba, who do you trust?…  Me?  I’m giving out free money!”). It would only end badly for the country.  And the idea that anyone who opposes that route is somehow racist or “anti-immigrant” is a red herring. Yes, conservatives want to take away the Joker’s Entitlement Balloons, because when they pop or leak…it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

“Have you ever danced with the Devil by the pale moonlight?” I don’t suggest it.

With that said, I also have another suggestion for the idiot who runs across professional baseball fields during play with Mexico’s flag fluttering in his wake: it’s not helpful to your cause, buddy. Americans don’t mind immigration, provided it’s an orderly process and that those who come here want to be Americans. Do I know what message this guy was trying to get across by prancing around with his Mexican flag? No. But I know that perception can often be reality, and if the majority of the people at that ballpark went home feeling as though his antics were an affront to American principles and American Heritage, then he did his cause a great disservice.

“Why So Serious?”, you ask? Because it’s a serious matter. Period. Liberals are trying to create the impression that we have to choose between being “pro-immigrant” and “anti-immigrant” when that simply isn’t the case.  Many conservatives get so caught up in the politics of it all that they fail to realize how possible it is to transcend politics and speak directly to the people when change is needed (something Reagan understood).  We need to keep our head on straight and artfully articulate how true immigration reform allows others from around the world to become part of our country, while simultaneously ensuring that the bedrock foundations of freedom and liberty are passed on to future generations.

"Why So Serious?", you ask? Answer: Because death-by-entitlement-spending and the Balkanization of America due to liberal multi-culturalism and moral relativism can't be allowed to happen. Conservatives need to articulate how their vision of immigration reform provides a legal, orderly path to citizenship that ensures our bedrock principles are passed on to future generations.