Film Corner: Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey

Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey


[Ana] Kissmate bought me BIRDS OF PREY to watch during recovery. Only it turns out that he got a double-package of BIRDS OF PREY plus SUICIDE SQUAD. Apparently it cost a whopping dollar more, and the packaging seems pretty apologetic about SUICIDE SQUAD being inside. He says he'll live-tweet the movie that causes pain. Neither of us have seen it, but we've Heard Things.

Today is a nice lazy day, so it's time to relax, pull up some grub, and #Kissmatewatches the mess that is Suicide Squad (2016) dir. by David Ayer. I'm going to be upfront and say that I KNOW it's garbage, but I've never seen it for myself. Time to change it, for better or worse!

Before we even start, the way we got Suicide Squad was packaged in with Birds of Prey for a dollar more. The disc was hidden behind the paper insert. The menu has no animation or sound. This feels so apologetic, as it should. Correction, there was sound. It was terrible music on loop. My husband muted the TV because he couldn't stand it. Oops! We open with "House of the Rising Sun" played over Will Smith in jail, threatening a prison guard. Then "You Don't Own Me" played over Harley Quinn sexily acrobating and fanservicing in her cage. We learn they're both dangerous and like beating up the guards.

The difference between the two is night and day. Smith seems to take and throw hits pretty well, and has his wits about him all the time. Quinn is acting "Hollywood crazy" and suggestively says she sleeps when, where, and with who ever she wants while hitting her head on the electric bars of the cage. This all screams of a male power fantasy and male gaze. I know so little of both, but I got more true personality from Smith than Quinn. Quinn was straight up licking the bars and begging the guard to "come play with her" while he watches on appreciatively! Ew.

Now we get "Sympathy of the Devil" played over the title while we're ineptly caught up on the events of Superman v Batman. They expect us to have watched all the DC movies up to this point? A woman walks into a dinner meeting saying she has "the worst of the worst" put together in case there's a future Superman that goes rogue. She tries to make the term "metahuman" happen.

[Ana] I already resent this movie for assuming I watched that one terrible Superman movie.

She introduces us to Deadshot (Smith), the most wanted hitman in the world. They use Smith's charm to the fullest potential, so Deadshot is already the most interesting character. And his weakness is his daughter who hates that he kills people. His weakness couldn't have been his over-confidence? His pushy attitude? His greed? It had to be a female child that he can't bear to lose face in front of? And "Batman" can't capture him without his daughter morality checking him? Really?

Speaking of Batman, he isn't really being a good Batman here. He's kicking a guy's ass IN FRONT OF HIS DAUGHTER. You'd think the ONE hero most sensitive to childhood/bystander trauma would NOT DO THIS. But, hey, had to get Deadshot without dusting off the kevlar! I JUST REALIZED Batman captured a Black man in front of his Black daughter and let white cops find them in the alley. They immediately draw their guns at the defenseless Black people. This aged WELL!

Onto Quinn! She helped murder Robin. Apparently? Missed that movie! We go through her typical backstory. Except suddenly there's a huge shift to focus on the Joker instead. And we're still seeing her sex-kitten it up instead of how she got that PhD in psychology. About Joker: He's not the Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime is supposed to laugh at the funny stuff, no matter how grim. Here he's a mob boss who shoots a guy who looked at Quinn for a few seconds. Any humor he has is how "lulz RaNdOm" he can be.

Harley gets captured because Joker crashed the car in the river and she can't swim. Batman goes to use CPR, but she starts making out with him. I think I'm too feminist to enjoy this Quinn. There's too much misogyny packed into this portrayal. It's like watching a creepy fan boy play with his doll. Can I mention the soundtrack? It's a jukebox mix of classic rock, but none of the songs play long enough for anyone to enjoy them. I've counted 6-8 memorable hits played briefly in 15 minutes. Guardians of the Galaxy had a better restraint than this!

Next is Captain Boomerang. He's a Australian human thief with a metal boomerang who doesn't like to work with others. The Flash captured him. That's all we get. (They expect me to watch the TV shows too?) Diablo! He's potentially the most powerful so far with fire bursting from his fingertips. He surrendered and stopped doing crime because he lost his "queen". That's two men who's motivations are because of women close to them.

Killer Croc! He was under Gotham until Batman ran him out. Then he was captured. Since he was treated like a monster, he became a monster. This feels so underwhelming to the actual character, but I haven't read enough media to know better. Finally, the best of the worst, The Witch. A sorceress who took over an archeologist's body. They say that she can be controlled by her heart, which they conveniently found in the same cave as her spirit. We know nothing else, save she is THE most powerful one.

The one who's watching the Enchantress is the best special agent ever named Rick Flag. He's in love with her, so will do anything the people, who are holding her against her will, say. Also, third man with a woman as his motivation. Can we mention how Waller PLANNED for Rick Flag to fall in love? How? Why? What? Just... You can never PLAN for that! Also, wouldn't that make him BAD at his job, since he can't be objective during his work? I have so many questions! The Pentagon is worried about how they can control these villains. Waller summons Enchantress and makes her steal secret weapon plans from Iran in a blink of an eye. Then Waller tortures Enchantress when she won't turn back into Moone. That's uncomfortable.

We see Waller's team gather the Task Force X. Diablo refuses, saying he's pacifist. Quinn calls Waller the Devil. Deadshot gets a loaded weapon in his hands again for a show-off shooting practice. There's a scene where Waller lies to Deadshot, saying there's no live rounds in the gun he's holding to the cop's head. He fires in the air, disproving her. Why did she lie? To see if he'd kill? We know he kills! I need sense made of this scene!

Relocating to the bedroom so I can keep a good eye on my husband. Surgery is never fun! After rewatching the Deadshot scene, I will say there are some funny lines. "If I die, I want you to clear my browser history." When Deadshot lists his demands, both me and husband are giggling. Smith is the best thing in this movie. Deadshot is Fresh Prince of Assassins and I love it! All he wants is his daughter to have a good education and a good life while he jokes and charms at the people around him. How is he so bad again? He kills for hire? That's not so bad.

Flag only NOW mentions that these criminals are a BAD idea. He says that she needs trained and disciplined soldiers dedicated to a cause, not this group of chaotic and/or evil villains. Waller says if he leaves, he'll never see Moone again.

[Ana] Seems like he should've brought up these objections BEFORE they briefed and were given the green-light from the Pentagon. I swear this entire movie feels like it was cut into pieces and assembled at random. The individual scenes aren't bad, but they're not arranged in the best order for clarity!

Joker learns of Quinn's location and goes to get her. Again, he's very quiet and serious. Also, arranging dangerous items (guns, knives) and random objects (baby clothes, champagne bottles) in a small room is all you need to do in order to become the Joker! We see the cop Deadshot threatened (Griggs) gambling in an underground casino until he's pulled away. The Joker mugs and chews scenery for a bit, saying that he is going to be his new friend. That was the first time the Joker looked like he was enjoying himself.

Flag is watching Moone when she turns into Enchantress. She teleports away while threatening Moone's life through telepathic images of Moone dying. At least I THINK that's what's happening. Enchantress learns she can't get her heart without it detonating. Enchantress steals her brother's soul and gives it to a Black man so he can be free to steal souls/energy while she gets ready to build a machine to destroy humanity. There's SO MUCH to unpack here. We have an Indigenous-coded woman threatening a frail white woman's life while planning to destroy the world because it no longer worships her and her brother. This was written by only white men and it shows.

Moone comes back and says for Flag to stop her, even if it kills her. We see Incubus kill a few men. absorb electricity, and destroy a subway, but without seeing him directly. He does seem more machine than her though (Bikini Girl vs Machine Man). Also, the STRONGEST METAHUMAN EVER is guarded by one guy who has feelings for the subject in a ratty hotel room and no one else. Did no one else think this was a bad idea? At all? And Waller has her phone on silent?? Um.

The attack spurs the Task Force X into action. We see them fitted with injectable explosions put into their necks. Griggs gives Quinn a Joker Phone in hopes he'll put in a good word for him. She says he's screwed. I can't wait to see what happens to him! (Spoilers: We never do!) Joker breaks into the lab and puts one of those explosives into a doctor's neck.

In a flashback (?), we see Flag force Moone become Enchantress (so much for love) so they can take down the Metahuman. She escapes and becomes our new villain permanently. I felt they should've kept a better watch/lockdown on the MOST POWERFUL METAHUMAN EVER. Like, hold her heart and you can convince her to follow you, sure, but it's not TOTAL obedience. Did Waller NOT think of that? Really?

Shit hits the fan now. They bring in the rest of the team where they play up the "insane dangerous criminals" for humor. And we see a Native American character that is just now introduced as Slipknot. I'm not guessing he's lasting long. They give the Force some personal items as incentive to do well (besides not dying). We see some hit-and-miss character gags. What really eats me is Quinn. She HAS the old jester costume she's so known for, but passes it off for a bland fanservice outfit that is basically a t-shirt, panties, and fishnet stockings. She also apparently changes in public while the men ogle her. Sigh.

Everyone bonds a little bit, then get a briefing telling them to extract an unnamed person from the city. So we have no idea what's going on and neither do the main characters. Stellar. They drop the title and move on. Oh, and a NEW CHARACTER is added. Katana! Because the movie's not done being racist yet! Or done throwing characters at us yet! Why is she here? Was she written last second?

[Ana] This is seriously one of the worst movies I've ever seen. We're 48 minutes in and they're still adding new characters to the ensemble. Meanwhile, they're supposed to rescue someone and we have NO IDEA who it is. I'm not sure THEY know. They're literally adding new characters like "oh hey and we just got licensing approved for this one, take her too." It's amazing.

The helicopter crashes and they're all safe on the ground. Boomerang tells Slipknot that the neck bomb isn't real. It's all a mind game. An Australian white man telling a Native man "break a rule and go see if you die" feels uncomfortable. Sure enough, the only Native American character dies immediately to show that the neck bombs work! Fuck this movie! So much for diversity! Then Boomerang hits on Katana while still living, even though he also tried to get away. Ew.

Deadshot and Quinn plan out how they can get out of this mess, leaning on the Joker helping them. They come across humanoid blackberry-headed people that attack the Force. Everyone seems to hold up their weight well enough and fight through the waves. Well, no, Diablo didn't fight and Boomerang hazes him. Turns out the Berries were once people, but became part of the Enchantress' army once she kissed them. Did I mention this was written by a straight man? Because the movie won't stop reminding me. The Force enters a building where Quinn takes the elevator instead of them. She kicks some ass in a nice scene and moves on with the other people staring after her. Berries ambush them, but they work together and break through most of it.

Diablo is finally forced to help out, but his pacifism is broken in the weirdest way: Deadshot makes him lose his temper with the tried and true "I'm not touching you" tactic while tapping his head lightly. I get it can be annoying, but... really? That's the best they could come up with? Schoolyard bullying? I will give some credit where it's due. Quinn and Katana have shown they handle themselves REALLY well in a fight. The "damsel" in this movie seems to be Flag, the super awesome special agent. I'm perfectly okay with this!

We get a flashback to Quinn getting dunked in the laughing juice. Joker here acts very tired. No energy, no pizazz. He hesitates to save Harley, for some reason, but does so anyway because... I don't know. I don't know this Joker's motivation for anything.

[Ana] Deadshot and Harley Quinn have more chemistry than Harley and Leto's Joker, and that suggests something has gone horribly wrong somehow.

Finally we reach the mystery person we're extracting. Turns out it's Waller Waller! She stayed in the city to study the Enchantress with her research team. Now we're going to move them all out via helicopter and- Oh My GOD!! Waller just shot her ENTIRE research team for no reason! Tells them to wipe the drives and shoots them all! WHO IS THE BAD GUY HERE?! She is committing murder and huge government cover-up! The fact she's the "Angry Black Woman" trope makes this even WORSE!!! Also, what did she learn that we didn't already know in the last few scenes? What was her purpose in being here for our Force to pick up? What does she give us?! She can't even take the information to higher-ups because SHE DELETED ANY WITNESSES, data or living!

Joker arrives instead of their helicopter. He takes away Quinn after disarming her bomb. Deadshot is commanded to kill Quinn, but purposefully misses. Joker gets shot down, but Quinn makes it safely away. So much for that Joker scene!! Waller's chopper sends out flares, making it perfect target practice for Incubus! Her chopper goes down and now the Force is forced to go pick her up. The Enchantress has her heart back, so now is at the top of her game. Maybe if Waller didn't treat her poorly none of this would've happened.

Deadshot asks when this ends, and I'm feeling that question too. He forces Flag to tell them everything. It's... stuff we already knew, so nothing shocking to us. If everything was edited to be from just the Force's POV, this movie would have been SO MUCH better! Since we saw these scenes happen in chronological order, nothing shocks us when we see it! The only "shocking" things I do see is how horrible Waller is to other people, and how she can foresee two random people falling in love but NOT consider the Enchantress would fight back for her freedom!

Either way, the Force has had enough, so they go drinking. After some banter, Flag comes in and makes it about him. That makes it cool for them to work together and kick ass, I guess. I don't get their motivations at all. SEALs come in out of nowhere and finally Croc gets a reason to be here: underwater bomb retrieval. "I live underground. Y'all are just tourists." I unironically like this line. Then we get something about Katana, but it feels so late that it's hard to care.

We get to the end of the Sky Portal where the Enchantress is. She looks like her body is constantly convulsing in sexy ways for the magic to work. Why so much fanservice?! It doesn't make a bad movie watchable! Enchantress makes them see their best dreams, but they break free. She calls for Incubus, who starts attacking. Diablo decides to help out and becomes a giant skeleton wearing a huge flaming Latino headdress. I want to call this racist, or cultural appropriation, or- I don't know. It's not good.

Diablo runs out of juice last second, forcing them to sacrifice him to kill Incubus. They turn on Enchantress, who starts attacking the world. The Force struggles with her. Also, all I see is silhouettes and darkness, so IDK what's going on. She takes away their weapons and tells them to join her. Quinn uses this as an opening and cuts out her heart. With it gone, they deal the final blow of teamwork and blow up the Sky Portal. Flag forces Moone back and it seems like it's going to be okay.

Waller walks out, holding her KillApp and threatens them. She gives them some boons, and we next see Deadshot with his daughter. They have a cute scene. The rest of the Force is seen with their boons, but then there's an explosion in Quinn's cell! It was Joker, who was here to bust her out of jail! He wasn't dead after all! He welcomes her to come home and we end with credits.

Bonus! Waller helped with Justice League! Another movie that tanked... So yay? This movie was a time dilator. It felt SO MUCH LONGER than it actually was! And NOTHING happened to Griggs! Any payoff would have been nice, but it went nowhere. Annoying! 0/10, never again. Down there with Kill Bill. Watch Birds of Prey instead! Good night! Ok, one final thing: we started shipping Deadshot and Quinn half-way through and I wouldn't mind seeing it more. That or bring in Poison Ivy finally.

[Ana] This movie was a mess and I blame a lot of that on the editing. There's scenes that feel out of order and end up repeating or duplicating information the viewer already knows. Even from the beginning, the movie messes up the very basic "recruit a bunch of weirdos for a cause" montage that Armageddon perfected. We start with two of the team (Deadshot and Quinn), then interrupt to see Waller at a dinner where she talks about her Dream Team to take down a hypothetical Bad Superman. Then we cut to Waller asking the Pentagon for funding for this team and she repeats the hypothetical Bad Superman fear. Only after all this does Flag confront her about his worries regarding recruiting a bunch of hardened criminals.

[Ana] All this is out of order! We should have begun with Waller getting funding for her Dream Team, then cut to Flag expressing his concerns in a sort of last minute "are you SURE about this? They're criminals." Then you cut to showing us the team members: Deadshot, Quinn, and keep going through all of them. Rather than this slapdash weirdness where we're still adding team members halfway through the movie.

[Ana] While I'm changing things, I'd drop this grimdark white cis male obsession with Hypothetical Bad Superman that DC can't seem to let go of. Enchantress is the threat in this movie, so why not start with that and build the team in response to her? "We have a problem; these 6-7 people are uniquely suited to solve it" is more interesting than "Let's select 6-7 dangerous criminals with questionable morals and motivations to protect us against a future threat, and oh one of them went rogue so I guess that'll be good practice for them as their first mission or whatever." Never once does the movie take Enchantress seriously; the movie treats her as practice for a promised sequel, and it hamstrings the action and audience interest.


I'm watching BIRDS OF PREY with Kissmate and it's so good. They make Harley canon bisexual in the first 5 minutes without a single damn word at all. Just a picture on the ever-spinning slot machine of love.

I love how when Harley diagnoses someone with her psychology skills, it's based on years of familiarity with the person. It's not that fake Hollywood "talk to someone for 5 minutes, know their entire deal" Sherlock Holmes psychology. And the choice of villains for this--a misogynist who only values women when they flatter his ego--is just. *chef's kiss*

I cared more about that sandwich than about most of the members of Suicide Squad.

"That's her ex." Another casual drop of sapphics in this movie!! Kissmate wants that "I shaved my balls for this?" t-shirt so badly. The bean bag guns!! It's nonlethal (which is good because audiences don't like senseless murderers) and playful (which suits Harley so well!!) She's having so much more fun than Leto's Joker. She's actually having fun and that's so important for Joker and Quinn!!


She's wearing Bruce's dog tag instead of Joker's J necklace and I love the change. The hyena's name being Bruce is a rare audience in-joke that delights me. I want so much for Batman to learn she named a pet after Classy Bruce.

Black Canary's voice, I just. She's so perfect? I'm so melt? Harley pouring out her heart to Canary over being a harlequin is feelings, my heart. This is a conversation that was written by a survivor. Then Cassandra and Canary bonding over her terrible foster parents, I just.

Roman is the best villain. It's so triggering, but the scene where he frightens and humiliates his female guest is so real? Like, yes, that is what that kind of guy does. And yes, it's terrifying. Also: The dynamic between Zsasz and Roman is fascinating. Zsasz constantly has very possessive body-language towards Roman, especially when Canary is in the room. He acts like a wife who is asserting ownership before the new pretty secretary can "get ideas" about rising above her station by seducing the boss.

Roman, to Canary: "Come in!"
Zsasz: "You're late."
Roman: "It's fine!"
Zsasz, facing Roman, blocking out Canary: "Should she come back later, since she's late?"

He's trying so hard to establish an "in" connection to Roman that Canary doesn't have. It's not that Hollywood bigotry thing where the villain is queer-coded for easy stigma; we're seeing the tension of a Boss/Underling relationship where the Underling fears being replaced by the flavor of the week. It's unhealthy and co-dependent-y and possibly homoerotic, but not *because* villains are supposed to be queer-coded.

I'm up at 1 am thinking about how Suicide Squad gave Harley a desire for children that she could never have... and Birds of Prey satisfied that need by having her adopt a young ward/apprentice who idolizes her. YEAH. Like, SS sucked ass but I'm glad I suffered through it if only because it sharply defined how much of a triumph BOP is. Harley doesn't need the Joker to have children and a family. Harley doesn't need cis male writers to give her those things, either.


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