WIth comic books and caped crusaders of all variants hitting Hollywood and cinemas hard. Impressive reviews and critical acclaim proving that stories about goofy comic book superheroes can be serious drama, films and money. We’re about to see DC release another hugely anticipated film. Suicide Squad. What happens when bad guys are made to work for the purposes of good.
Suicide Squad is a really cool idea, and had a fairly significant cameo in the CW’s Arrow television show. The short story is that characters that are usually villains are forced by way of bombs implanted in their skulls, into working for agencies. These agencies don’t want any involvement in these operations as it would be terrible press. Instead they unleash the villains upon the targets, have them carry out objectives, and if anything goes wrong, well… it’s just a bunch of crazed villains doing crazed villain things right?
Unfortunately for some fans of a few of the characters, there’s a few things wrong. For me personally, there’s one really big problem which is probably going to keep me from seeing this film in cinemas, or at all. But there are also other problems I have with this. I’m in my mid 20s, and I’ve grown up in quite a progressive society. I’ve noticed and seen attitudes changed, specifically attitudes towards body modifications. It’s no longer seen as a scary or strange thing, and you’re not instantly assumed to be a tough brutish type of person just for having tattoos. They don’t have a large impact on someone’s character. It’s a societal attitude that my generation has experienced happen, and all generations below mine have been born into.
Yet for some reason, nearly every character in this is tattooed or has some kind of body modification. It’s almost as if middle-aged business men, who have no idea about the youth of today, sat around a table and thought “how do we make them scary?… BODY MODIFICATIONS YEAH!” In my opinion, its trying to hard to be cool and edgy, while completely misunderstanding what is scary and dark about these characters.
For me though the biggest problem is Harley Quinn. I’m beyond saddened that Harley Quinn’s introduction to the mainstream has so far purely been about her body. That’s not her character whatsoever. People might shout “oh but she was sexualised in the comics too!” and that’s true, to a degree. It just wasn’t the only aspect of her character, and not the most important by a longshot.
Before we get into it, an important thing to note, and as can be demonstrated with the above image set, is that the Harley we see in Suicide Squad is based on the New 52 version of the character. Without getting into detail, this is a new version of Harley, and the bulk of her characterisation has come from the previous versions, with her debut being on Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. The most divisive difference between the original version and the New 52 version is her origins.
Harley’s original origins always focussed on her falling in love with The Joker. One origin even states she fell in love with him before she met him, and even suggested her own supervillain name to him. Importantly, all of this is her choice, and she does it in the name of love, one of the biggest parts of Harley’s character. In the New 52, Harley loses that freedom of choice and will; she’s both thrown into, and then saved from a vat of acid by The Joker. She doesn’t have free will or choice in this situation, its a huge reduction of her character.
I really hope that I’m wrong, and that Harley’s character is going to be more than just a piece of eye candy for the audience, and connection to The Joker. However from trailers and promotional media, it doesn’t look good. What we’ve seen of Harley so far is her body, not her character. The lack of The Joker in the line-up shot of the squad implies he is who they are tasked to bring in.
In my opinion, that looks to me like we’re going to see the creation of Harley Quinn early on, before she and the rest of the squad are tasked with bringing him in. Which Harley will jump at, being his obsessed love interest. Making her whole on screen character about her interest in the Joker and everyone’s interest in her mostly naked body. That’s not the Harley Quinn I grew up with and love to read.
I think she’s a character that deserves a lot better. Suicide Squad is to hit cinemas in August.