The Anti-Avengers

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Title: Suicide Squad

Rating: 3 Stars

First things first. It was a pretty good action movie. Motley crew of deplorables are collected. Big city is threatened. Only the motley crew can save them. Big final battle. Probably several hundred billions of dollars of damage is done. Probably tens of thousands of lives are lost. Some less central member of the motley crew selflessly gives up his life. Motley crew saves the day. The city is in ruins. Snarky wisecracks. Curtain.

Yadda, yadda, yadda…

So, anything interesting here? Well, a couple of things…

How is Jared Leto as The Joker? This is now the fourth Joker that I’ve seen. Cesar Romaro barely counts here because no method actor he. His job was to play a comic book character in a comic book television series, and that is precisely what he did. I still find it interesting that Jack Nicholson, one of the best actors of his generation, still is pretty much out-gunned in this competition.

So it comes down to Jared Leto vs Heath Ledger. From the point of view of playing The Joker as a right on the edge psychopath, probably Leto wins. However, I’d still take Ledger’s world-weary, bored, barely amused, desperately looking for a purpose version. Ledger consumed every scene of The Dark Knight that he was in, overwhelming talented actors like Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine. Perhaps if there is a future movie where The Joker is a focus, then my opinion will change, but right now Ledger still wears the crown.

How would governments respond in a time of superheroes? When conventional military thought and conventional military force are not enough? The number one promise that a governments makes to its people is to keep them safe. A government that cannot keep its people safe will not stand.

In this universe, at this point in time, Superman, the ‘good’ superhero, is dead. Leaders nervously await the next demi-god to come down and try to enslave / destroy the world.

Into this gap walks Amanda Waller, a brutally tough pragmatist. Picture Dick Cheney as a black woman. Her plan is to take the nation’s most dangerous criminals, who each in some way has some super power, inject them with an explosive that will kill them if they get out of line, and send them out on these suicide missions to save the world with some vague promise that their sentence will be either reduced or somehow slightly mitigated if they succeed.

You just know that Dick Cheney is now kicking himself right now for not thinking of this himself.

It is an interesting premise. One of the things that annoys me with modern action hero movies is that the good guys absolutely destroy property and kill people (that you never actually see, this is 1980’s A-Team shit taking place here), to save the day. There seems to be little acknowledgment of this cost. It reminds me of the G.I. quote as the Allies left the French town of Saint-Lo (95% destroyed) after the Normandy landing, “We sure liberated the hell out of this place”.

The last Avengers film tried to work this in but at the end it was just an excuse for further tensions in the on-again, off-again Captain America / Ironman bro-mance.

Here, at the least the motivations are clear. You have a bad person (a witch!) trying to destroy the world and you have a band of mercenary anti-heroes who have zero fucks to give. There is no moral quandary here. There is no clean cut square jawed Captain America with his simple world view. I found the amorality refreshing.

It was also interesting that the witch was actually unleashed by the very same Amanda Waller. The witch got away from her and she had to bring in her other anti-heroes to bring it down. Therefore, the near destruction of the world could be laid at the feet of the woman who is now trying to save it.

Is this a comment on our modern age? Our growing lack of confidence that we can manage our world’s problems? That, in fact, the solutions that we come up with actually do nothing more than lead us to even more dire catastrophes? Is this a statement on America today? We are this great power. Without a doubt, America is the most powerful country ever in the history of civilization, politically, militarily, economically, and culturally. Despite that, have we lost our ability to solve problems?

Does this lack of confidence explain our reaching out to someone who smugly announces with great confidence that only he knows how to fix everything and that only he can fix it?

Jesus Fucking Christ, does every one of my posts now have to have some fucking Trumpian theme to it?

 

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