Suicide Squad Appears To Be A Sophisticated Rorschach Test

Suicide Squad Appears To Be A Sophisticated Rorschach Test

So last night was a GMNtm (Guy Movie Night – wherein I and a few (male) friends watch a movie of things blowing up, and retire to drink alcoholic drinks sans umbrellas) extravaganza and the movie of choice happened to be Suicide Squad. And I have got to say this, gotta get it off my chest… I literally think that this particular movie isn’t a moving picture entertainment experience at all. Like any. Instead, I am of the mind that it is actually a very very sophisticated scientific experiment where the larger population is being utilized to determine varying degrees of psychological competency and sanity. Seriously.

And actually, I’ll even do you one better. I believe that DC & Marvel are a perfect personality test that will actually work better as a Myers Briggs Type Indicator than any other personality type identifier out there. Not a comic book fan? No problem… Look at these two images and I will now tell you your psychological profile. What? No way? Let’s try it out – pick left, or right image. You don’t even need to know DC or Marvel, just pick the photo that appeals to you more:


Left? Or Right? For me? It’s no contest. Zero. And for you? I’m betting you gravitate to one over the other immediately. And it really doesn’t matter if you are a Batman or a Captain America fan. A DC or a Marvel fan. You’ll naturally be attracted to one over the other.

Curious as to my preference? Left. 100%. I’ll take the oils and the paint of Dave McKean any day. (If you are curious, that left page is from the best single comic book ever made entitled Arkham Asylum: a Serious House on a Serious Earth – and the right panel is from Captain America #450.) But you can see the difference between the two pages immediately. This also illustrates the difference between Suicide Squad and let’s say, the overly optimistic and fairly funny Avengers. So what does this choice say about you? Do you see the world as inherently good? Then you will be more attracted to the movies of the Marvel universe… you will like the bright reds and blues of this palette rendered in Captain America, etc. If you see the world as inherently evil? Then you will be more attracted to the movies of the DC universe.

I used to think that I couldn’t stand all comic book movies of late. I found myself falling asleep half way through the latest Thor. Or the latest Iron Man. And I just didn’t get it. I figured it had to do with the fact that we were dealing with super heroes that had zero humanity, or flaws. But then I saw Batman vs. Superman and really enjoyed it… I enjoyed the flawed portrayal of Superman. I enjoyed the death, the life and the conflict. It spoke to my perspective of the universe. Whereas the Avengers just seemed way too optimistically ideal in it’s handling of all conflict. I just didn’t care.

And then I saw Suicide Squad and it all made sense to me.

Suicide Squad Overview

There has been an enormous outcry from the media and the cinema intelligentsia about how terrible this movie is. Discussions about how Leto failed as the Joker. How the movie is a hot mess of convoluted story points and overloaded with characters that no one knows. But as of this writing, Suicide Squad continues to baffle at the box office as it has continued to post record breaking August Cumes for six days in a row. Apparently the Will Smith, Margo Robbie, Jared Leto, Ben Affleck flick has struck a chord with somebody, despite how “terrible” it is.

I will say this, the movie really is a hot mess. But it’s a hot mess in the vein of Deadpool if you catch my meaning. It’s fast, it’s funny, it’s confusing, it’s more about this team than it is the McGuffin that is out to destroy the world. The basic overview is that in the post-Superman world, the government is very afraid that the next Super to come along won’t be so benevolent. So, Amanda Waller, (played with aplomb by Viola Davis) pulls together a team of hitmen and burglars to counter the next big super-man on the market. They’d be kept in check by explosives planted in their necks. Right? Simple enough. So we have this tug-o-war going on between these “evil” bad guys who are forced to do good, and their handlers that are actually more horrible than they are. It was a clever comic book concept and it made for a fairly ingenious movie idea as well.

But it would seem that David Ayer, the director, has keyed in on the internal demons of the team as way more important than the actual bad guy in the story… the Enchantress and her brother. Which is fine by me. The Enchantress McGuffin (which, I’ll be honest with you, I can’t even explain it to you if I wanted to) is here to destroy the world… but why? Or how? Or eh? But the internal struggles of Deadshot – as he wars with himself to take care of his daughter? Brilliant. Even better? The internal struggles of Diablo as he refuses to use his wicked fire super powers… so so good. When was the last time a Marvel movie’s super hero (good or bad) killed their wife, and two children in a rage he couldn’t control?

Boomerang – “What happened to the children?!”

Harley Quinn – “Well duh… He killed them.”

Boomerang – “Wah?!”

These characters are flawed to the core. And speaking of flaws, what of the much ballyhooed debate and conversation around Jared Leto and Margot Robbie as The Joker and Harley Quinn? For me it was a fascinating on screen relationship. Yes, Quinn was over sexualized. And yes Leto as the Joker paled in comparison to Heath’s rendition. But there was magic in the relationship between these two characters. A dark dark magic. It began as a psychiatrist and patient relationship in Arkham Asylum and it devolved into an obsessive compulsive pyrotechnic spectacle.

I know that Leto has been talking about the fact that an enormous quantity of scenes that he shot were cut. But if you’ve seen the film – it makes perfect sense. This isn’t a joker movie. It’s not even tangentially a Joker film. (Which, is a brilliant idea by the way. Why go half way?!) Each of the characters in the Suicide Squad gets backwards glimpses of how they ended up in prison, and how the Bat captured them. But with Harley Quinn, we get the Joker… and so she is obviously more interesting than all the other characters combined. But Leto is commenting about the potential of using his extra-cut footage in another movie?!? hahaha.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the relationship here – and there is one quote in particular that really shows how mental the two of them are. And this is just from memory, because when it happened I thought MAGIC:

Harley_Quinn_and_the_Joker_(art_by_Alex_Ross)The Joker: “Question! Would you die for me?”
Harley Quinn: “Yes.”
The Joker: “That’s too easy. Would you… would you live for me? Hmm?”
Harley Quinn: “Yes.”
The Joker: “Careful. Do not say this oath thoughtlessly! Desire becomes surrender. Surrender becomes power. You want this?”
Harley Quinn: “I do.”
The Joker: “Say it. Say it. Say it! Pretty pretty pretty pretty…”
Harley Quinn: “Please?”
The Joker: “You’re so good.”

Which is a perfect representation of the relationship that has always been between Harley and the Joker all along. It really was a co-dependent soup of insanity and fire. And these two actors nailed this relationship perfectly. I don’t personally think Leto killed it as the Joker, but he was intriguing. Almost too much has been said about him already. But you can never say too much about Margot’s role as Quinn. Never. It was pretty intense in a silly off handed, let’s burn it all down, sort of a way. Harley Quinn: “What was that? I should kill everyone and escape? Sorry, it’s the voices. Ahaha, I’m kidding! That’s not what they really said.”

Suicide Squad Rohrschach Test

When was the last time you saw a super hero movie that really grappled with the chaos that comes from having super powers? The last time we saw real fear as a result of these powers? X-men? Meh. But a lot of people have really pilloried the movie has having zero real bad guy. And to them I actually give them that point. The Enchantress and her brother (whoever he was – I honestly have no idea to be frank) really honestly made me think we were in a Ghostbusters remake, not in a DC movie. Which, while I love both the original Ghostbusters movie and the recent remake, to see it here was truly bizarre. But I enjoyed the internal monologue more than I did any external action sequence that the movie provided. It gave the characters depth and real personalities that are missing in Captain America and his lillywhite version of the world.

But the movie is a rorschach test. And it is a simple one at that. If you like to see impervious heroes battling faceless bad guys that don’t stand a chance… and you like the funny quips and banter that come with that – well then, Marvel is for you. But if you want to see bad guys with internal struggles battling with their own demons and who may very well fail in their attempt? Then DC is for you. Which, really, is why I have always resounded with Bruce Wayne. A rich man who is internally struggling every day still with the murder of his parents as a child? Oh man, that character is fascinating to me and the Suicide Squad just takes that idea on to the next level… wherein they are using actual bad guys who accidentally find themselves fighting for redemption.

Suicide Squad Conclusions

I love grit. Grime. And mess when it comes to films. I enjoy seeing flawed characters who are afraid and worried about what they are capable of. I want to see writing that brings us flaws and problems. Not perfection and strength. But that’s because I see the rorschach test of this movie as good thing. And we know that many see it as a bad thing. Much has already been made of that in the press. But that is another topic entirely. For now, know, that if you are itching for a Deadpool-esque good time, that is exactly what this is. It’s a more realistic portrayal of this fantasy experience, but that may not float your boat. It definitely floated mine.