The Suicide Squad

Listen to this episode

S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership.

S2: I want to tell you right now, I see. Trade in favor

S3: of. I am the.

S2: What’s in the box,

S3: you know, you brought down your.

S4: Hello and welcome to Slate’s spoiler specials, I’m Karen Harned, staff writer at Slate and I’m joined by Sam Adams, senior editor at Slate. Welcome, Sam.

S2: Thank you, Karen.

S4: Today we are spoiling the suicide squad, the soft reboot slash standalone sequel to the 2016 film Suicide Squad, which is differentiated by the fact that it does not have the in the title Sam. I don’t think we’ve really talked about this. Did you watch the 2016 Suicide Squad?

Advertisement

S2: I did. Unfortunately, it’s a very, very bad movie I saw. It’s not really memorable. No, it’s really not. But it is really bad and unmemorable and was like kind of a mess. You can tell that they kind of like reshot the whole second act after they kind of got rid of the director and stuff. And yet it made like a gazillion dollars. And so that necessitated making another one or the same one again or whoever it is. You want to characterize this thing.

S4: Were you excited for this one? Where were your expectations for this?

S2: I mean, I was excited. And I think the reasons for that are basically two words, which are James Gunn, who is the writer director of this movie. And there are two things to know about James Gunn going into this. I guess, three, if you don’t know that. He is also the writer director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies for Marvel. I think that if you’re interested enough in the suicide squad to listen to this podcast, you probably know that part. But I mean, the two things are, one, that the James Gunn before he was a Marvel director kind of came up through the ranks at a sort of independent B movie studio called Troma, which is best known for the Toxic Avenger movies. And this is basically as if someone gave him two million dollars to make one of their sort of garatti self consciously lowbrow genre movies. And the other thing is that this is the movie that James Gunn made after being fired by Marvel for some sort of off color edge tweets of his should be like 10 years earlier that resurfaced in twenty eighteen. He was eventually rehired by Marvel to make the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie. But there was a point there where he was kind of in freefall, cut loose from one comic book studio and approached by DC to make this one. And I think that’s important because first there is a real sort of like fuck you quality to this movie. But I think there’s also a real, like sense of gratitude that he gets to spend like hundreds of millions of dollars making this crazy stuff. And he’s going to give, you know, the people who stood by him like, you know, the craziest shit that he can possibly do. If this is the last movie he ever gets to make, that’s fair.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Although I have I have one argument to make, which is a lot of people have described this as like the big the big budget Troma movie. But I’m almost tempted to say, like, if this was I understand it on a level of this is more zany than most other superhero movies. But at the same time, if I was like, if someone was like, you’re going to go see a trauma movie, I’d be like, this is not nearly like gross or like gross out enough or like we’re out there enough right now.

S2: I think that’s fair. I mean, I would say that if someone describes this as a two hundred million dollar Troma movie, that you kind of have to give equal weight to the two million dollar part of it and all the limitations and concessions that that comes with. So he is definitely not free to do whatever he wants in this movie that it is. You know, it’s very, very gory for for what it is, you know, not for classic Newcome High or whatever, but for a major studio tentpole.

Advertisement

S4: Yes, that is true. And the gaudiness, obviously, of course, is apt for the entire premise of the suicide squad. So in case you missed the first one, the overall idea is that these super villains who get put in jail are taken out as a team by the government to complete these sort of black ops missions. The idea being it’s fine if nobody knows that they’re out there and doing this and if they decide to go rogue or try to go free, they all have these little bombs implanted in their heads that will go off from mission control to keep them in control. And so the beginning of this movie is basically just proving that point where we see this team of superheroes that includes, like Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion going up onto the beach and immediately just all of them. Almost all of them getting completely destroyed. Yeah.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: And in really, really stupid ways like these are, you know, presented of these kind of like hardened convicts. They’re literally all just out of prison and they all have superpowers. But they’re also just kind of idiots, like there’s one character named Mongul who is they surmise like might be a God or something like that. I do not know her book BackStory, but she looks like she has sort of, you know, scaley like red lizard skin and stuff and seems pretty indestructible and, you know, decides to wade into the fray. They’re invading this sort of fictional South American island nation called Quarto. Multiuse, meeting up with their army, and she decides that she’s going to take down the helicopter that is attacking them by just kind of jumping off this rock outcropping and holding on to it and throwing it to the ground, which is sort of typical zero superhero movie stuff. But she realizes immediately when she does it that she’s going to crash along with a helicopter and just start screaming in a very non superhero movie ish way. And then it crashes and she burns to death. And that’s the end of Mongul.

Advertisement

S4: Yeah, I mean, it is sort of funny that way where all these people, again, as you say, that we’re like, oh, these guys seem pretty cool. All die so quickly, especially because some of them are being played by such famous people, particularly Pete. And and also even like Fula, Borak is pretty well known comedian. And then there’s the death of Michael Rooker’s character known as Savant, who opens the film. You see him looking really like wizened and tough in Ballarat prison. And then as he watches all his friends getting killed, I guess they’re not his friends, but his colleagues, his co-workers getting killed. He starts freaking out and just runs away and then just ends up just having the bomb in his head detonated because he’s a coward.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: I mean, the sort of the moment when you realize that things are going to turn is one of the members of this sort of initial Proteau suicide squad. There’s a character called Weasel who is just a giant human sized weasel who apparently is in prison for murdering 27 children

S4: played by James Gunn brothers,

S2: who also sort of all the like motion capture duties on his movies. He also sort of plays like Rocket Raccoon on Set for the Guardians movies. And it’s a very brief appearance in this movie as a DC villain who I believe is called Callander Man, just because a weasel is just as you know, character they spend all this time setting up seems totally gross. And they’re doing like a water landing approach to this island. And he jumps out of the helicopter into the water and immediately drowns because no one has thought to ask if this weasel can swim. So that’s that’s what you’re dealing with your folks.

Advertisement

S4: It’s so good. And also, that character is so upsetting. It has the thing where, like when a dog is too small and his eyes are too far out of its head and looking in different directions, it has that it can’t really speak English. It’s just making these really pathetic whining noises to the point that I felt I felt bad for him when he died. Spoiler alert he’s not dead, but still a pretty sad scene nevertheless. But concurrently, we see that there’s actually a second suicide squad coming up on a different beach. The first squad has basically been sent there as cannon fodder to distract the Maltese soldiers, while the second squad, which includes peacemaker, one of the big new characters and blood sport, they have also arrived and capabilities to execute pretty much the same mission.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yes. Which is very sort of nebulous at first. And this is sort of present in the previous movie a little bit. But James Gunn like really kind of doubles down on the idea of Amanda Waller, who’s like this sort of total, you know, government badass who like directs Sam, who blows up their heads if they go off mission, et cetera, as she’s just like basically kind of an American fascist, like she’s just like do what the government tells you to do or we will blow your head up. And like that, we’re not going to tell you any more than you need to know. We’re not going to tell you about our whole complicated history with you, with the Central American nation, which has the history of the US in Latin America, tends to be is pretty complicated and ugly.

Advertisement

S4: Any foreign

S2: countries. Yeah. So it’s just like basically they’re going to go there. They’re supposed to, you know, blow up this building, which contains this thing called Project Starfish, which they don’t even know what it is except that it’s bad and they’re supposed to destroy it and not ask too many questions and basically just kill anybody they see along the way.

S4: Yeah. And of course, one of the first things that establishes the fact that Amanda Waller is not to be trifled with is No. One. Of course, she blows up someone’s head, but also as Blood Sport, played by Idris Elba is introduced, we see that the main reason he’s going along with all these schemes that she has threatened to put his daughter, his teenage daughter in prison and basically make her life a living hell in order to make her father do what she wants.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah, and she’s really I mean, I give the movie credit for this like it definitely, you know, pulled some punches at the end and gets a little fuzzy. But like Amanda Waller in this movie is not like a bad ass. She’s actually bad. She’s like, I’m going to take your daughter and put her in prison, which she mentions, you know, Bellerive Prison in Louisiana, which she mentions offhandedly has like the highest mortality rate in the country. And it’s like if you don’t do this, I’m going to put your daughter in jail where she will probably be killed. Yeah. You know, she’s like, actually terrible, which is sort of enjoyable.

S4: That storyline, though, is also sort of funny because it’s such a copy paste job from Will Smith’s character from the first movie, if anyone listening recalls that, where it’s like we have a main bad ass character who is mostly doing this film stuff in order to protect his daughter, specifically Will Smith. Of course not. Back for this movie, but the characters who are back include Rick Flagg, played by Joel Kinnaman and Harlequin, played by Margot Robbie. And very briefly, Captain Boomerang, is it Captain Boomerang or just boom?

S2: I believe he is technically a captain.

S4: But wow, how do you become a captain of a boomerang anyway? Captain Boomerang, played by Jai Courtney,

S2: dies in the first season.

S4: All right, Captain Boomerang. But everyone else is new, which is kind of a fun and refreshing thing to go through, especially because I feel like in these movies where the whole point is you’re kind of cycling through a cast. The the appeal is like, who is the weirdest character we can get up here?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah, it seems like they really went for that in this case. I’m not sure how much you know, what James Gunn has been saying in interviews, how he really wanted to take his cues from the comic book incarnation of suicide squad, which is really just about like reviving like the most, you know, kind of obscure, like deservedly discarded characters. How much of that was intentional and how much of it was just him asking about, like, can I use these things? And they have, you know, the DC Universe, these things plotted out for them twenty five years in advance or whatever. But we do end up with, you know, characters that I think even very hard core comic fans may not have heard of before, like Pokot Ottman, one of the great additions to this

S4: one MVP

S2: race played by David Gest and yeah. And Ratcatcher two, which is, you know, the daughter of Ratcatcher, but also make it makes it seem like they just couldn’t get the original ratcatcher. He was already booked. It’s sort of

S4: sad that they call her Ratcatcher, too, or even at least in the like, promotional materials, because, like, she is the only one any more. You don’t really have to call her Ratcatcher, too. But that’s besides that, right?

S2: Don’t you usually like inherent your superhero parents mantle and not just become like a sequel to them? That seems unfair, right?

S4: Batman is a bad example, but he’s not like there’s not like Batman, too. It’s just like you just become Batman. Anyway, the other members of the news squad also include King, who’s arguably a little more famous because he also appears in the animated Harlequin series, but certainly hasn’t been on screen as high impact as this before.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah, he was I believe he was on the TV version of The Flash as well for a couple episodes as a more straightforward villain. But here he is.

S4: He’s very cute in this.

S2: I mean, he’s very I mean, very much in the vein of Groot from The Guardian’s movie is just an endearing, monosyllabic, much more carnivorous and grooviest, we were told right from the beginning of the movie, acquired a taste for human meat, which he indulges many times in the course of the film. But it’s another it’s a very similar strategy going right down to casting like a sort of iconic movie, tough guy to deliver his monosyllabic lines. In this case, Sylvester Stallone.

S4: He’s very good. Yes. I wish they had released more like behind the scenes footage of him in the booth, because it does sound like he’s he is like doing a voice. It’s not just Sylvester Stallone says one word.

S2: No. Yeah. He has lined like book read.

S4: I mean, it’s very sweet. He wants to be smart and appreciated by his peers, which I think is relatable for

S2: all of us. Yes. And he also wants to eat them, but he is talked out of that eventually.

S4: Yeah. And a very sweet way. So as we mentioned, the first suicide squad gets their asses handed to them. But Rick Flagg, who is among the first squad, who notably is not a villain but is like sort of the cop in charge of them on the ground, he gets what they believe is kidnapped. And so the second suicide squad goes off to save him. They completely decimate what they believe to be a camp of kidnappers before discovering that Rick Flannery is actually fine and everyone they’ve killed is a good rebel trying to overthrow the dictatorship and caught in my teeth.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Right. I guess we should mention it’s hard to pay too much attention to the plot here, but what sort of sets it in motion here is that there’s a military coup in this nation. That’s what kind of destabilizes things and necessitates this act of American intervention. So, yeah, so this is the group of rebels who are trying to overthrow the military coup led by at least Baraga. But because Amanda Waller has just told them to go in and sort of terminate with extreme prejudice, anyone who’s between them and flag, like, they just wipe out the whole camp. And it’s actually like I mean, it’s a pretty dark sequence, especially once you kind of understand the context of it. But it’s very funny because it’s sort of executed as this sort of murderous pissing contest between

S4: the legless Gimli two towers.

S2: Yes, bit. Except just like with murdering innocent people. Yes, that’s correct. Yes. But yeah. So it’s just John Cena and Idris Elba like kind of, you know, shooting each other like shit. He looks kind of miming like, you know, jerking off on each other and then, like, killing people to show off what’s going on.

S4: Yeah. And they’re arguing the whole time, which makes it funnier in part that the rebels don’t notice that this entire time. And they’re talking about like. What’s cool and what’s not and is like I would shoot straight at you and Jonathan is like, well, I’d shoot a smaller blade at you and it go through the middle of your bullet and kill you and be like, what’s the point of that blaze? Like, because it’s fucking cool and it’s just like, shit, you’re right. It is fucking cool. And I mentioned this because it will become important later on in the movie.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yes, exactly. The sort of dueling sizes of bullets, in fact, becomes key to the resolution of the Blood Sport Peacemaker Arc.

S4: Yeah, I have a huge question about that. But we’ll we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I also briefly want to mention that John Seena’s character, Peacemaker, actually actually is supposed to get his own spinoff show, I believe, on HBO. And he’s quite good in this movie. I like John Cena as an actor. I think he’s always quite charming.

S2: I was going to ask what you thought of his performance here, because he’s he’s playing the character. He said that Gunn. James Gunn instruction went to him was to play peacemaker like a douchebag Captain America. So he’s like this sort of insufferable toddler who is also extremely good at killing people. So it’s it’s I mean, it’s a very funny performance that’s kind of made more so by the fact that the character does not have a sense of humor, like at all.

S4: Yeah, he’s very good in comedic roles. Like I thought he was great. And Blocher’s and even Bumblebee, where he’s supposed to be a bit of an idiot, he’s good. He doesn’t have the rage that Dave Bautista has, but he’s very good at what he does do. So they come across the rebels and they discover what sort of is going on outside of the information that Amanda Waller has given them. Harlequin, unfortunately, has also been kidnapped and taken to the villa, I guess, of one of the villains who, as it turns out, wants to marry her, in part because he is a fanboy and in part because it is frowned upon to be a bachelor in a leadership position, is my understanding of it.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah, it’s not clear to me like how much of that speech to her is supposed to be legit. But yes, he says, like the people of Cromarty are very conservative. They won’t accept a new leader without a bride. So he only met with her in order to satisfy them that he was looking for one. But then he is actually fallen in love with her. I want him to marry her. So they have, like, amazing sex. And then he starts talking about how excited he is to be in control of the country, how he’s going to take control of Project Starfish and use it to exterminate his enemies. And Harly, who is, you know, can recognize a red flag in a man when she sees one, just abruptly kind of shoots him through the heart and then apologizes while he is bleeding to death, but is like, look, you know, I dated the Joker. I know where this is going. Yeah. Really, the best thing I can do for both of us is murder you. Yeah, she does. Yeah.

S4: Inadvertently, though, this means that the sort of military front of the coup is now in power, played by the great Yokine Kozue. I’m not 100 percent on how to pronounce his name, but I like him in everything that he turns up in and feel like he has not had a sufficiently big role in any movie yet anyway. So now they have a whole new problem. But the team meets up because everyone outside of the kidnapping situation goes to rescue Harly but then end up finding her as she has already made her own escape. She is not a damsel in distress.

S2: Yeah, that’s sort of like a classic example of how this movie likes to wrong foot you. There’s this whole scene where they talk through this elaborate plan and give you the whole set of like, oh, we’re setting up our highest and there’s our look out on the third floor and they’re just about to go into it. And then Harley just walked out. It’s like, hey, guys, what do you do it? Yeah.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: And the lead up is pretty involved where they go through all the trouble of capturing the thinker who is the super villain in charge of Project Starfish, played by Peter Capaldi, doing kind of a Megaman thing or Megamind, not Megaman. That would be a completely different movie, but I would watch that. So they’ve captured The Thinker and Hour like we need to get Harley and we need to go blow up Project Starfish. And once they go get Harley, they break into Yo Tunheim, which is the name of the laboratory, and they discover that the thing inside is a giant starfish that is capable of mind controlling people around it by sending out smaller starfish. Is that then like face hunger, many victims promptly killing them and turning them into vessels of the starfish?

S2: Right. So, yes, the two big reveals here are one that the villain is and this does seem like something where James Gunn was just like what is like the stupidest possible villain I could take out of the comics. What if it’s like a giant alien like starfish named Staro the Conqueror? Howard? Yeah, which which the Thinker explains in this movie is meant to be derisive.

S4: Sadly, it’s mean. It’s mean, yes.

S2: But then also that in fact, this is not sort of some evil plan that like this rogue nation has been coming up. But in fact, this is an American run experiment that they’ve just been doing sort of Gitmo style somewhere, you know, in a country where they can’t where they have like plausible deniability. And in fact, it was like American astronauts who discovered this thing floating in space. They’re the ones who have been having him experiment on it and feed this country is sort of, you know, dissidents and journalists to it’s kind of live fodder, too, for for 30 years. And now, because the

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: really scary reveal.

S2: Yes. And now because the country is destabilized, they just want to, like, destroy this whole thing and clean up their mess before it falls into the wrong hands.

S4: Yeah, the reveal, again, it’s like really, really scary. It’s kind of almost like Bio Shaoqi where they go into the thinker’s lab and they see all these people who are who have been cut up and amputated and really just destroyed but still alive because they’re still attached to the starfish on their faces. Really one of the more gruesome bits of the movie in a movie that’s full of like heads getting sliced and then sliding off in a classic horror movie kind of thing that I do love the giant starfish. Although I as I was watching the movie, I was sort of wondering how many cues this movie was taking from Legends of Tomorrow. Certainly not as well viewed, I think, overall as the suicide squad, will it be. But the show featured like a giant blue teddy bear named Bebo for a while. And if you remember, that clip going viral on Twitter was just like Bebo, like destroying a city. And it’s like this is just this is insane, but this is great, which is kind of the same vibe that watching a giant pink and blue starfish destroy a city has.

S2: Yeah, it does seem like I mean, I’m not sure that I’ve seen people involved with the movie talk about it, but it does feel like Legends of tomorrow, which I think is not the sort of most has never been like the most watched of the CW. DC Universe shows the Arrow verse, I guess we call it collective movement seems to have become now like the fan favorite just because it’s the one that, like, takes all the weird shit that doesn’t fit anywhere else. You know, one of the things I like about the suicide squad and there are things that I don’t like, I guess I should say, we haven’t really sort of discussed the overall use yet. There are some ways in which it doesn’t work for me. And in fact, like, you know, as I was saying at the beginning, like spending this amount of money on something and then trying to give it to sort of, you know, Graty made in a garage, feel that it does just kind of ruin the joke in some ways. But I do really like one thing. I miss, you know, as someone who grew up reading comics and have really missed in the movies, is that sense of. Just being able to do like crazy throwaways for run one issue and then put them up, put them away, and it’s sort of neat that this movie is coming out at the same time as the Marvel Show, the animated Disney plus show. What-If, which is the first episode, was a little conservative, but it gets more interesting further on is at least, you know, experimenting with like what if we did look like a story that doesn’t fit anything and actually maybe kind of ruins all this other stuff and then just threw it away because we just thought we’d like you know, it’s like when in comics, when they would like the regular artist and writer would fall behind for an issue and they would just have like another creative team come in and do something, you know, completely different for one episode just so they could catch up. This feels a little bit like that. Like it’s just, you know, the DC Universe is kind of killing time where they figure out what to do with, like Batman and Superman and all this stuff that kind of crashed and burned after the failure of the Justice League. So it’s just like, let’s just get a bunch of characters that nobody cares about, have them fight like a big starfish, kill most of them, and then just like put something in movie theaters while we figure out what like the real movie we’re going to make next year.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Yeah. And sort of to your point, like the one of the nice things about this being sort of the film equivalent of one of those throwaway issues is the fact that characters can die and it actually like you believe that they’re dead. Where I wrote about this a little bit on Slate Dotcom. But one of the problems that I have with a lot of the big superhero blockbusters recently is that you’re never going to convince me that the superhero is really in any danger, like watching Superman die in the recent DC films. I was like, I don’t like I don’t believe that he’s dead. He’s going to come back and he does before the movie is even over. And like, I’m never going to believe I’m never going to watch a movie and think, oh, is this one war kept? America dies unless it’s one that’s already like hyped up to be that, in which case it doesn’t feel surprising. It doesn’t necessarily have the same kind of weight. Whereas this one I was shocked that so we so we discover that this project, Star Fish is an American invention and peacemaker is on the mission to make sure that the evidence is destroyed and no one ever finds out. And Rick, Flag on the other side of the coin is horrified to discover this and decides that he must get this information out into the world so that people know what’s happening. And in the ensuing fight, Rick Flagg dies, which was shocking to me because he is a main character in both suicide squad movies. He’s kind of boring, but I would never have guessed that he would be taken off the board permanently. And the same goes sort of for in the ensuing fight with a starfish poking out, man bites the dust after a very sweet kind of heroic moment. And he’s got he’s been built up enough and he’s lasted long enough in the movie, you know, that you think he’s going to make it out to the next one, because we already saw a bunch of other people die at the beginning. Like there’s no reason to think that any of the heroes are going to die. But they do. And it really works for me.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting. I was I was going to pluck your piece in just a minute, I think. Yeah. I think you wrote a great piece about how, like, you know, so many of these comic book movies, even the ones that are sort of interesting for two thirds, you get, you know, basically especially the ones that Zack Snyder is associated with in any way, including like the first Wonder Woman, you get this just sort of, you know, big like glowing garbage in the sky fight where they’re like saving the world. And it’s like, well, the world’s not going to be destroyed, like, you know, it’s going to be saved, you know, Superman’s not going to die, yadda, yadda, yadda. So there’s actually no the dramatic tension is that’s like, well, how are they going to do this thing that I already know is going to happen, which is not very interesting. But, you know, the extent to which this movie has to work against that, like when Rick Flagg gets killed and it’s in this sort of knockdown, drag out brawl with peacemaker where he ends up stabbing him through the heart, which is what I think is a broken piece of toilet. The movie actually does like a cut in inside Rick Flagg’s chest, where you can see this thing, like stab him in the heart and like that’s how far a superhero movie has to go or work it out. Man gets like squished flat by one of the stars, tentacles or pseudo pods or whatever. They are sorry to bring bio majors out there, but like that, that’s how far this movie has to go and is willing to go in order to confirm the characters are dead. When the thinker eventually who’s been experimenting on Staro for 30 years, finally gets comes face to giant eye with the starfish, he is like literally ripped apart. The two of his limbs are torn off and then he is thrown into a wall and like splats into like give it up against a window. But like that’s how far these movies have to go to convince you that someone’s like, actually really dead. Yeah. Because even even peacemaker who seems dead is then brought back to life in the scene.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: He’s gonna come back for his HBO show Dog. Yeah. So, yeah, Rick Flagg dies. It seems like peacemaker is going to have his way, but then Ratcatcher arrives on the scene and takes the hard. Of information peacemaker, chases her down, is about to kill her when blood sport drops through the ceiling. They both shoot at each other. Blood sports, tiny bullet goes through pacemakers, bigger bullet and hits peacemaker in the neck, apparently killing him. Yes, womp, womp. It’s a good scene. When did he have time to get tiny bullets? Where did he get them?

S2: Yeah, I mean, a lot of his weaponry in this movie is is pretty. There’s a lot of sort of handwaving around it. Like he just has these little pieces that he pulls off his belt that, like, magically transform themselves into different parts of the Gunn. I think I mean, part of what’s going on with with blood sport in this movie is that the character, I think was initially written as Deadshot Will Smith’s character from the first movie, which is why, as you pointed out, he has like the same back story, like doing it for his daughter and whatever. And it was really kind of just as they were approaching. I think even after Idris Elba was cast, they initially thought they were just going to put him in the same role. And then they eventually like, well, we need to leave the door open for a while. So just make him another character who’s, like, kind of the same thing. So I think a lot of the the weaponry and stuff like that was just, you know, hold your hand out and will like have the CG guys, like, figuring out what seems to be what happened there.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Yeah. And so once peacemaker is out of the equation, everyone regroups and they go to go kill the giant starfish. Although we should mention that briefly, king shark, and partially because he is a slightly slow guy, gets separated from the rest of the group and has a small interlude with just a flaw that’s just a giant tank on in the Ottenheimer tower with these little floating almost jellyfish like things, which is quite cute and sweet until the tank bursts. And it turns out that they all have like piranha teeth on the bottom and almost kill him. You have no idea how many times I was afraid that King Shark was about to die. I would have

S2: cried. Oh, yeah, I know. I think and I think the movie is aware or sort of counting on people like forming that sort of like like cutesy like anime, his relationship with King Shark, because it definitely does. I mean, he gets killed in the Maldives.

S4: It’s so sweet.

S2: Yeah. He gets he gets like killed the most of any character. I mean, he literally drops like six stories out of this building. He gets eaten by these little, you know, venomous piranha fish. He gets shot about a million times. Yeah. He gets thrown into a building by staro like thrown into a building so hard that the building, like, collapses around him. But he’s he’s king shark. He’s basically an ancient shark. And that was fine. Yes. Yeah.

S4: He’s so sweet. Yes. Yeah. We should mention the reason that he doesn’t eat his suicide squad members is earlier on rat catchers. Like, would you eat your friends? You have new friends. She’s like, we can be your friends and that’s why he doesn’t eat them. It’s very cute.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yes. It’s the power of it’s the power of friendship. I mean, that’s sort of and this is true of the Guardian’s movies, too. But that. Yeah, something that the James Gunn tries a lot and like mostly gets away with sometimes. But he really balances this, this sort of, you know, in your face still sort of like sort of edge Lordi Gore. A lot of these, you know, very close to fourth wall breaking jokes. One of my favorites in the movie that I only caught on the second time through is when they’re sort of planning the big approach to voting time. And it’s this classic scene where they’re sort of standing on the roof of the building. And, you know, Rick looks like pacing around explaining like this team’s going to go here, this team’s going to go around there. And Hali, who’s, you know, a psychopath just wants to be involved. So she’s just starts stalking it around and he goes, OK, to do this. And you guys go there and she just yells, have I am walking back and forth. And it’s just like she just

S4: wants to be

S2: involved. Yes. Yes. Sounds like a joke about the character, but it’s also a joke about these like, you know, movie scenes where it’s just like, oh, we need to give it some visual energy. So what if the characters just, like, walk around a lot for no reason? So but the movie balance is that kind of stuff with this really pretty naked, you know, sentimentality that would really cloying in any other context. But because it’s in a movie in which you have a giant shark, like ripping a man in half with his bare hands. Yeah, it sort of comes out in the wash.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Yeah. And the sentimentality, of course, wins the day. So as they’re fighting the giant starfish, poke it out man is unfortunately squashed. But Ratcatcher carries the day because she summons all of her rats to come swarm the starfish as well as sort of take care of all the citizens and soldiers of the Maltese who’ve been taken over by the starfish. Harlequin is almost given the triumphant moment because she jumps with the javelin that she has given up beginning of the movie into Star Wars. I but the rats are pretty much doing all the work. And there’s really it’s I love the way that Harlequin is shot in this movie because there’s like always like beauty shots. But it’s always while something gross is happening, like around her, like in this film. Instead she’s floating in the water. It’s so ethereal. But then all these rats are swimming in the water around her and chewing on the like blood veins in the eye. It’s gross, but it’s great.

S2: And then after after a star dies, like she’s like climbing out of its. And she’s just all covered in, like sort of gelatin and goo and like climbing out of this dead alien being with this big, like, crazy smile on her face. Yeah, I mean, they you know, the first movie took, you know, a lot of kind of deserved flak for kind of leering at Margot Robbie. And that was, you know, of course, directed for in Birds of Prey. And it’s nice to see that, like, this movie does not kind of fall back on the first suicide squad. It you know, it’s like, ha, like

S4: sexy getting out of the pool or whatever. It’s just like you you’re trying to climb out of a giant essentially waterbed.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: No, she’s still like very like girly in some ways. When she first gets taken to meet, like the new president of the country, they like put her in this big red dress and she just like is staring at a mirror in this limo and being like, oh, I look like a princess. But then it’s also like the scene where she busts herself out and then turns out the rest of the suicide squad does an interview she goes through. She murders like 50 guys with like guns and her bare hands and that javelin. And at one point, she’s like this, these sort of CGI like flowers just start erupting behind her. And when she, like, cuts a guy’s head off with the javelin, like instead of blood spurting out of his neck, it’s flowers just really, like takes you into the sort of, I don’t know, supercharged psychotic femininity or whatever, like, fantasy she she lives in, which is like pretty fun. And I think they managed to kind of do something new with the character while also not making her the center of things. I think Margot Robbie, among other people, kind of calculated that the character works better when she’s sort of I think she referred to as like a sort of agent of chaos when she sort of off to the side and then just kind of runs in and like screws everything up because she doesn’t understand it, because she’s just walking back and forth. And I think she works really well as kind of, you know, like a very intense space in this movie and not necessarily like the main protein.

S4: Yeah, arguably bloodsport is the main character. And I know that James Gunn has or said that Ratcatcher is like the heart of the movie, which is true, like the moment where she summons her. Rats’ is all about her bond with her late father, who came up with a rat summoning technology and how rats are actually a valuable member of society.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yes, because even the most discarded characters have worth. Like, for example, shitty comic book characters that no one cares about.

S4: Exactly. I will say this. I like watching the rats in this movie. I was like, they’re pretty cute. Rats are pretty cute. But the one thing you guys didn’t really put in the movie and that would probably throw a lot of people off, is the fact that all, like so many male rats, have those terrible pomponio balls. And it’s like there’s no way to make that look nice on screen.

S2: Yeah, I mean, there’s a little because it is still like a DC movie, like, you know, King Shuk wear shorts for the entire film.

S4: Where do they get his clothes from. It’s nice.

S2: Yes. I mean, I like it. He’s wearing this sort of like sort of dorky pattern like, you know, 70s swim trunks or whatever. But it’s still like, why is a giant shark who kills people wearing pants also?

S4: Is it that inappropriate? I don’t know what a shark penis looks like, but I imagine, like, is anyone going to be like, oh, you’re going to get an NC 17 for that one?

S2: I mean, I don’t I don’t think it’s out generally. Look, I don’t yeah. I think it’s, you know, retractable. Right. I’m going to go all the way there. Yeah. So it seems like they could have gotten away with that, but maybe someone just decided that pants were funnier. I don’t know.

S4: Yeah, that’s fair. Anyway, Arapiles take that into consideration if you’re trying to, if you’re trying to adopt a rat out there. So they kill the starfish which in a really kind of sad moment because in his dying with his dying breath starves like I was happy just floating out in space, which is what he was doing when they found him and then brought him to Earth and then experimented on him for like thirty years. It’s a kind of bittersweet part of the ending, as well as the fact that the rebels managed to take over chromatids and install a democratic election coming up. But the information that they have about the fact that the American government is responsible for project starfish ends up being sort of buried again, close because bloodsport uses it as leverage to let them go free instead of having to go back to prison and face any consequences.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Right. I mean, it’s there is a point at which I think you gain nothing from, like, thinking too hard about the end of a movie like this. And basically what it’s going to do is kind of, you know, wave in the direction of a lot of things, like American intervention in like South American politics and stuff like that, which it does. And I think there is something to having a character, you know, and an actress, Ratcatcher Danniella Melchiorre like who’s Portuguese, like someone has heard of rats to kind of come out of the, you know, out of the streets of this country and take down the giant conquering starfish and whatever. You could probably try to do something with that. I think it would be of limited use. But, you know, at least I think this does certainly in a more concerted way than the Marvel movies that are supposedly about like the surveillance state or whatever. I think this does at least nod pretty firmly in the direction. Of, you know, how bad like intervention has been? Yeah, without without sort of like, you know, getting into the specifics, obviously, or, you know, necessarily confirming that any of the characters are irredeemably bad, which in real life, if they kind of, you know, actually traded their own freedom for keeping this, you know, 30 year program that has, like, murdered thousands of people, a secret that that would actually be bad in life, but

S4: bad being an understatement. Yes. I guess we should also mention the fact that I don’t think we really explained what Pochoda Man is or we may not have explained the powers of these guys sufficiently. Really bloodsport, Rick, Flag and peacemaker are kind of the same in that their power is they’re pretty buff and they have guns, right?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah. There’s a there’s a very funny moment at the beginning when, yeah. Blood sport is described as, OK, he’s a mercenary, he can kill with anything. He was raised by his father to kill from the moment he was born, yadda, yadda. And then that Emmanuela says, I’m assembling this team. Every member has a unique skill set. Here’s peacemaker, who’s a mercenary who can kill with anything. And he was raised by his father to kill from the yeah, he was born and and blood just kind of looks at him like that’s what I do. Yeah. You know, so the movie does kind of nod to that and maybe even to the fact that, like, blood sweat was kind of like a last minute substitution for that shot. Yeah, but yeah. But I think it is actually like the very rare movie of this kind where it is worth like in a couple of cases, like just sitting down and talking about the characters. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So yeah. Poke it out man.

S4: Let’s go. Yeah. Poker night man. Really this movie MBP I love David does Malky and I think he’s, he’s so great and everything he does. And I only recently discovered that The Dark Knight was his first movie appearance but is so high impact where he’s that one cop that gets caught and they think briefly is the Joker and they like interrogate him to find out where Heath Ledger’s gone. Anyway, in this, he’s much more approachable, Pochoda. I mean, it’s just this very kind of awkward, sweet I depressed guy who was experimented on by his mother, who wanted her children to turn out to be superheroes and ended up contracting this interdimensional virus, which means that these just bright polka dots appear all over his body. And if he doesn’t expel them twice a day, then they will eat him alive. But as we see him firing off coconuts in the movie, it’s like it’s like being hit with acid. They just eat up whatever they land upon.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Right. And they also have because he has these very severe kind of mommy issues, he basically just you know, he’s he’s a very sort of retiring, you know, fundamentally peaceful guy. But the way he manages to unleash these things and murder people in these gruesome places, he just pretends that they’re his mother. Yeah, it’s

S4: so sad when he’s like, yeah, I don’t really like killing people, but when I imagine that they’re my mom, it’s easy.

S2: Yes. And so and the movie actually takes on his point of view and shows at one point a shot of the entire suicide squad as his mother at the very end, like before he takes out staro he imagines his mother is this giant. Kaiju is like knocking down these buildings. Yeah. And stuff. That’s really, you know, it’s very sort of over the top, a little bit crude and also very funny.

S4: Yeah. And Ratcatcher just controls Rats’. That’s her whole thing. Her dad played by TYKO. It in flashbacks, has pioneered this technology to help him like call rats and make them do his bidding. And she does essentially the same thing. And as we previously mentioned, King Shark, Akane, and now is supposedly like a shark God, an aquatic God, unclear. And he is just very big and strong and good at chomping.

S2: Yes. And I also really like the way that Peter Capaldi, who you mentioned, plays. Yeah. The thinker in this, who is often kind of this, you know, just sort of forbidding super genius, but actually just plays him is very kind of like louche and weird in this. And just his like his posture in scenes is very strange. There’s one point at which Ratcatcher is trying to, you know, threaten him, make him come with you. And she says, you know, how would you like me to send, you know, for rats to go run up your ass? And then he responds, like, my answer may not be what you expect. Yeah. You know, it’s just like a really gloriously, like, weird performance in the middle of this movie with Peter Capaldi obviously has lots of experience acting across from like rubber tentacles and doing this kind of stuff. But he just he has, like, so much fun with it in this movie that he’s really enjoyable to watch.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Yeah. I mean, all the performances I would say across the board are pretty good. Yeah. Including Idris Elba, who has just been announced, is the new Nuckols in Sonic two, which is like flabbergasting to me. I don’t think and not that it’s a bad choice, but it’s just like I would never have called that in a million years.

S2: No, he’s very he’s very good at it. Sort of like underplaying and kind of being like the straight man in this movie. There’s that point when. You know, Harley interrupts their rescue for him and she offers to like she’s like, well, I could just run back side inside and let you rescue me again. And you just hear him. You hear bloodsport kind of go under his breath patronizing. Yeah, that’s good.

S4: Yeah, it’s good. They should let him be funny more. I think he’s quite good at that. Kind of almost like deadpan kind of humor. Yes. Yeah. So they save the day but don’t reveal the corruption of the US government. And then we have a brief mid credits. OK, no, wait. There’s a one minute credit scene where we see a weasel waking up on the beach and then just running off and that a sort of more end credit scene in which we see that peacemaker has been retrieved from the rubble of Tunheim and is actually still alive.

S2: Yes. And that’s also the scene where we see that Amanda Waller, who gets hit with a golf club at one point because she’s like she’s actually totally, totally willing to let all the people of Corto Maltese die to protect this American secret. She gets, you know, clubbed, knocked out by her subordinates who then go over to the suicide squads and make them the hero. But then apparently Wyler gets back to running the office. And so as a kind of punishment for these functionaries, she’s like sent them on the ship mission to go like visit peacemaker in the hospital.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Yeah, notably the guy who goes Steve Aggy is actually the onset body of king shark, even though the voice of King Shark is provided by Sylvester Stallone.

S2: Yes. Yeah, I do think, you know, different filmmakers do these do these things different ways. But I think, you know, James, Gunn, although he’s got, you know, like all this money to play with now. He does really, I think because he comes from such a kind of low budget filmmaking background, he really does believe in like having, you know, like real actors on set even to play these totally roles to the actor and really, like he says, not just actors and really actually give performances. Even if you don’t end up seeing them in the film, it does really make them feel like real character. So even so, you do end up like caring about king, shark and even weasel in this movie.

S4: It’s just the noise of weasel noises. I’m not going to do them for the podcast.

S2: No, it’s probably wise, but yeah. Yeah, they’re they’re quite they’re quite something. I saw in an interview that James Gunn said that he based his version of the character on Bill the Cat from the county comic strip. Yeah. Knowing that it is exactly by the cat those are just based makes perfect sense. They’re just basically acts that that characters is saying.

S4: Yeah. So it seems like you’re overall pretty positive. Suicide squad. Good. Or the suicide squad. Good.

S2: It’s weird. Like I really I kind of I very much enjoyed, like talking with you about other parts of it that I like a lot. I feel like the movie itself as a whole, like left me pretty flat. So it’s you know, maybe it’s like one of those sort of like, you know, sketch comedy based movies where it’s like the bits are more fun to repeat or think about in isolation than they are to watch as part of a whole movie. But I think I’m talking myself into realizing maybe I enjoyed it more than I thought I did.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: You’ve seen it twice already, so I feel like that’s already something.

S2: Yes. Well, yeah, the first time I watched it, like, you know, on an iPad at like eleven o’clock at night, I felt like I had to actually let’s try and remember things for this. But but but yeah. I guess I would recommend it if you like that sort of thing. Let’s put it that way.

S4: Yeah. I mean it’s very much like in the same vein, as we mentioned that at the beginning of the podcast, that James Gunn is responsible for the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. And it’s very much in that same kind of vein where it’s like, let’s have a fun time. But in this case, it’s with a little more blood and guts being thrown around. Yes. So if someone came up to you and was like, should I watch the suicide squad, you would say, yes, you would recommend it.

S2: I have people have asked me that. And I basically basically said what I said. I was like, if you like, you know, sort of extreme of funny gore and kind of tongue in cheek, you know, over-the-top superhero stuff, then. Yeah, absolutely. Especially because it’s on HBO. Max, you don’t have to send people into theaters to either, you know, spend their money and or possibly risk their health to do so. This is a very good thing to watch at home.

S4: Easily accessible. All right, cool. Yeah. I mean, so much fun talking about this movie with you. I liked it. And I’m glad that I have sort of talked you into being more positive on it as well.

S2: Thank you for doing so out there.

S4: That’s our show. Please subscribe to the Slate spoiler special podcast feed. And if you like the show, please read it and review it in the Apple podcast store or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have suggestions for movies or TV shows we should spoil or if you have any other feedback I’d like to share, please send it to spoilers at Slate Dotcom. Our producer is Morgan Flannery for Sam Adams. I’m Karen Hunt. Thank you for listening.