On The Gray Areas Of Suicide Squad
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On The Gray Areas Of Suicide Squad

Do we condone the bad guys?

On The Gray Areas Of Suicide Squad

I’m not a huge superhero fan so it was Twenty One Pilots’ song "Heathens," the success of Deadpool, and my sister's slight obsession with the Marvel/DC universes that introduced me to this unfortunate band of sociopaths.

Maybe seeing the movie twice in the last four days or really, really enjoying "Heathens" has made me a bit biased but Suicide Squad wasn’t that bad. The good thing was that it was entertaining. The bad thing was that it had one or two plot holes, an admittedly rushed storyline, and some characters that could have been a lot better than they were. Maybe I’m being too hopeful and the movie was really just poorly executed, but I believe that the plot wasn’t even the point of Suicide Squad.

First off, the whole idea of making a movie about the bad guys is different and sort of refreshing. The problem is that you have to draw the line somewhere between sympathizing but ultimately disapproving of and condoning and or siding with the sociopaths. Most members of the Suicide Squad were given tragic backstories -- Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Diablo, and Katana especially -- that made you believe that somewhere inside them they had the potential to be good. But the world, as Harley says, turned its back on them. Killer Croc drove this point home when Amanda Waller commented that he became a monster because the world treated him as one. This is where the sympathy comes in. You as the audience see these people as misguided and capable of rehabilitation.

But at the same time this sympathy for the sociopath and apathy or even detachment from “the world” is what starts to create a sense of kinship with the squad. And the world, in turn, becomes the bad guy. Harley’s constant indignation with the world starts to become justified while Waller’s icy, ruthless tactics seem to aggressively encroach on the squad’s unbothered existence. The audience associates itself with the conventional bad guys and thereby sides with them.

We, the audience, sympathize with Harley Quinn’s, Deadshot’s, and Diablo’s struggles between being the bad guys and wanting a sense of normalcy in their lives just like any other average Joe. At the same time, we get angry at the good guys for making them who they are. Combined, the film has effectively turned the audience against the conventional definition of a good guy, in this case the United States government.

Furthermore, similar to how we as a society generally approve of the killing that soldiers overseas do because it’s for a good cause, we condone the killing that the Suicide Squad does in the movie because, however self-interested their motives are, their actions are saving the world. However, that shouldn’t necessarily be considered crossing the line into condoning the bad guys. As a society we’ve deemed a certain kind of killing okay: self-defense, national security, etc. Here, because the bad guys are acting as good guys, we don’t see them as bad guys at all. Therefore, it falls under the genre of killing which we as an audience acquiesce to because it adheres to our own values.

Essentially, the movie has turned the Suicide Squad into a band of good guys when they aren't.

During the beginning of the movie when we were shown brief bios of the main characters, we saw what they were like outside of the control of the government. Deadshot kills people for money without batting an eye on a daily basis. Though Harley Quinn wasn’t shown killing anyone, she wreaks general havoc on the streets of Gotham with the Joker. However, she, along with Deadshot and other members of the Suicide Squad, does have many typically sociopathic/psychopathic tendencies that include charisma, untruthfulness and insincerity, a lack of remorse and shame, callousness, a lack of empathy, impulsivity, and a lack of long-term goals. On paper that sounds like Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson, but on screen we see troubled people like Harley Quinn.

That is precisely why Amanda Waller assured the US government that everything the Suicide Squad does will be strictly off the books. Our society does not condone what these people do on an individual basis. Comic books and any superhero movie ever will show the villain as a charismatic master of destruction that we want the good guys to destroy. But in Suicide Squad are we now being thrust into the point of view of said charismatic killer. We’re shown that they’re relatively functioning people despite what society has done to them.

Though in theory we disapprove of what the members of the Suicide Squad do off-screen, we still root for them on-screen which is why this movie walks a very thin line between what constitutes a good guy and what constitutes a bad guy. Is it situational or absolute? This gray area that both Marvel and DC have dabbled with in the last few years really comes to a head in the final scene of the movie which sets up a battle between conventional good and bad guys. The point of Suicide Squad, however, was to keep the home team a mystery.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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