Comic book movies are typically box office gold. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has earned billions! On the other side of the coin, DC/Warner Bros hasn’t been so lucky. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam were all financial and critical successes. The rest made some money, but were destroyed by critics and fans. That includes Margot Robbie’s first outing as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. She is great a playing the character, but this movie is absent both Batman and Joker. Outside of the many verbal references. The big question is, does it work?
I am sure the casual fan will find this entertaining. Robbie is great as Harley and there is no denying it. She nails the character and is fun to watch. The problem is the same that Fox had with nearly all of its X-Men movies. Very little holds true to the source material. Harley wasn’t a Bird Of Prey and the core members of that team are not truly represented. The book’s premise originated as a partnership between Black Canary and Barbara Gordon, who had adopted the codename Oracle at the time. She was Batgirl until she was paralyzed by Joker. Black Canary is in the film, but not the one people would recognize. The character has played a prominent role on the TV Arrowverse for the last 8 years. I am not trying to take anything away from Jurnee Smollett. We also get Rene Montoya who was a strong secondary character in Batman lore. Montoya had long been an ally of Commissioner Gordon and Batman. This time around we get a much older Jaded version played by Rosie Perez. Taking nothing away from her, but it JUST DIDN’T WORK. They stick pretty close to the updated version of Huntress, but she is much cooler in other forms of media.
The girls get caught up in a money grab that has them being targeted by a really cool Batman villain called Black Mask. In the comic he is wealthy, has a fixation with torture, and extremely violent. They play on some of this, but he is played a bit over the top by Ewan McGregor. He is a great actor, but the script doesn’t do the character his proper justice. The other character they mess up is a very psychotic Batman villain named Victor Zsasz. While he was attempting to commit suicide by jumping from Gotham Bridge, a homeless man tried to assault him with a knife after he refused to give him money. Instinctively grabbing the knife, Zsasz saw in the man’s eyes that all life is meaningless and that nothing nor anyone matters. He then proceeded to stab the man to death as a “gift” for saving his life. From then on, he dedicated himself to “liberating” others from their pointless existence (Zsasz often refers to victims as “zombies“). He usually preys on young women, but has no qualms over whom he murders. He slits his victims’ throats and leaves them in lifelike poses, adding a tally mark to himself each time. He has been diagnosed as insane and is regularly incarcerated in Arkham Asylum courtesy of Batman, breaking out on occasion to carry on killing. In this movie he is a strange acted, bleach blonde, henchmen. If you know me, you know I love a good villain and both of these are poorly executed.
Marvel has made billions by only making slight alterations to the source material and largely giving people the characters they want to see. There is a reason those characters stick around for years. People who have no knowledge of these characters will like this movie. I think it is a great Harley movie, but an awful Birds Of Prey origin story. The costumes look cheap, the budget is small. At times it looks like they are the only people in the entire city of Gotham. It has it’s moments of fun. Most of the time, it is Grandma Rosie and the girls trying to out door a much too flamboyant villain that shouldn’t be that flamboyant.
DC just can’t seem to get there movie universe right.