I have been waiting since the first trailer release to see my beloved Suicide Squad. I followed the animated series with my kids, read the comics, and followed along with some of the characters vicariously through my husband and kids. If you can’t tell already, we are a comics family, specifically a DC comics family.
Imagine my disappointment when I started reading the reviews on the movie before it was widely released.
“Ayer allows Harley Quinn a certain deranged sense of humor, giving her the chance to deliver the sarcastic zinger to multiple scenes, but he only half-recognizes what a tragic character she is, and it’s discouraging to think that the film’s biggest laugh comes at the expense of Batman punching her in the face,” according to Variety.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a 26% favorability rating. Yes folks, that’s 26 out of 100.
The other professional critics blasted the movie’s alleged plot holes, lack of comedy, overuse of backstory, and the list goes on. I was really starting to become upset with the film before I could even view it.
Then, the criticism of the character Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, became to flow in about a week before the official release of the film. Only then did I understand the reason for the bad reviews:
The pros totally missed several essential points of the characters and the DC multiverse.
Here are 5 things that real fans understand about the film that critics, who never glanced at the fandom prior to Suicide Squad’s release seemed to have missed in their reviews.
- Metahumans do not follow that same rules of humanity that we all do. Why? Because they are not completely human! Duh! These people have lost some part of their humanity, and now live by a set of rules only they can define. Why did we need to know that Captain Boomerang was this badass who secretly carries a pink unicorn in his jacket? Because it helps us to discover the rules of his particular brand of humanity. Trying to psychoanalyze him using our terms will only get you half the picture. For the rest, you have to delve into his side of the DC multiverse, which the director of the film, David Ayers tried to help with.
That brings me to my second point.
- The flashbacks were important. While the critics were busy being perturbed about the way the flashbacks interrupting their preconceived notions of what a superhero film was supposed to be, fans were watching the movie to see how the characters we loved were being introduced (and reintroduced in some cases) to the big screen. I understand that some superhero movies set an expectation, but how’s about sitting in the theater and letting the movie guide the experience instead of forcing upon it your preconceived notions, pro critics…M’kay?
- This is not a Marvel movie. I am so tired of reading a review in which the critic bashes the movie for being too dark or for skimping on the humor, or even for providing too much backstory for the characters (see #2). One critic even compares Suicide Squad to Guardians of the Galaxy, which are not even in the same multiverse. Hell, they aren’t even the same fandoms! The movies and franchises are apples and oranges. You can’t give an apple an “F” for not having the citrus zing you love in oranges. It not only unfair, it’s a major disregard and disrespect of the fans who follow both sets of characters.
BTW: Suicide Squad beat Guardians in the opening weekend box office numbers. How do you like them apples?
- The stuff the critics seemed to hate most were ripped from the comics or Easter eggs for the fans. For example, Harley Quinn’s posturing over an outfit to wear was actually an homage to the costumes that the character has worn since her introduction in the animated series in 1992. She briefly displayed these duds, giving them and the Harley Quinn’s before this iteration, their moment before donning her fishnets, boy shorts and “Daddy’s Little Monster” tee. Let us not forget those bad ass heels.
- And last but not least, the critics completely missed the diversity of these leading characters. Not one of the major reviews in mainstream publications mentioned the fact that this group of superheroes shined a spotlight on the kickass abilities of women and women of color, African Americans, Asians, and Latinos. Amanda Waller is one black female that I would not want to cross, but I loved her portrayal in the film and Viola Davis who played the character. Diablo contributed a slice of Latino life. Yes, he was a gangbanger. (DC you got to do better there), but the character was the most in touch with his humanity and the one with the biggest sacrifice. Oh, and the Mayan backstory—totally a shout-out to my fellow Latino nerds in the fandom! DC has struggled with providing diversity in its multiverse. These characters were a great step in the right direction.
So, my fellow nerds and fans, before you run off to see our beloved Suicide Squad, clear your mind of the garbage reviews that you may have read online and the trash critical reception that is negating the film on social media. True fans who understand the multiverse will have a ball. The rest of you, just keep an open mind. There’s stuff in the movie for you too.
Jonita Davis is a writer, mom, wife, and proud nerd who is raising her little nerdlets on the shores of Lake Michigan. When she isn’t reading or chasing kids, Jonita teaches writing and studies popular culture. You’ll find her on Twitter @SurviTeensNtots