Yeah, I get it. There are a lot of superhero movies. But saying there are too many is like saying there are too many slashers or comedies. It’s a genre in and out of itself that can tell a variety of different stories. And nobody has done a better job of that than James Gunn, who started in the world of Troma and low budget horror like Slither before making Super and then taking over his own part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Guardians of the Galaxy.
But let me tell you — this is basically a high budget low budget film with a heart and you’d be silly to skip it. What other movie would be audacious enough to — spoiler warning — kill more than half its cast including most of the names on the poster before the credits even begin?
Where David Ayer’s Suicide Squad was pretty much considered a fumble — I liked the Deadshot moments and seeing the cast on screen — this movie fully lives up to the premise of John Ostrander’s run on the comic book. These are the very lowest of the low when it comes to super-villainy, forced by the American government to do missions where there’s every single chance they’ll die, whether at the hands of their enemy, one another or by the bombs implanted in their heads by their team leader Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, perhaps given less to do in this movie but nailing exactly who the character is).
Two different versions of Task Force X have been sent to the island of Corto Maltese to destroy Jötunheim, a laboratory that holds the secret of Project Starfish. One team — led by Rick Flag made up of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, who has this character down as perfect as it gets), Captain Boomerang (a sadly wasted Jai Courtney), Savant (Michael Rooker), The Detachable Kid (Nathan Fillion), Javelin (Flula Borg), Mongal (Mayling Ng), Weasel (all CGI and looking like Bill the Cat) and Blackguard (Pete Davidson) will take the beach. The other — using them as a distraction — is Peacemaker (a perfect John Cena), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian, not the first choice for a superhero character or actor, which should explain a bit of this movie to you) and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior).
This is a deep cut, but even Squad pilot Briscoe shows up to fly their transport. Deeper still is getting characters like Calendar Man, Kaleidoscope and Double Down into the prison.
There’s really no way that I can be subjective in my review of this. The Ostrander-era Suicide Squad is my favorite comic of all time and I subscribe to its modern remix Copra — you should too RIGHT NOW — and this movie completely hits all of the right notes, from how Killer Shark could eat anyone on the team at any time to Savant running from the battle and paying the price.
So yeah. There are a lot of superhero movies. There is only one that has a kaiju starfish, a man who loves peace so much that he’d kill for it, full-frontal male nudity and perhaps the most gore I’ve ever seen in a mainstream film, as well as moments in the Project Starfish lab that would not feel out of place in an Italian zombie film.
Movies can be and should be escapist fun. In a world where nearly every DC film has faltered to almost astounding levels, unable to even get the character of Superman correct in the last few decades, Gunn hits it out of the park. I can’t wait for the Peacemaker show and whatever comes next.
This is how you should feel after watching a blockbuster, folks.