Admit it: Diversity Saved ‘Suicide Squad’

Suicide Squad director and writer David Ayer has written a screenplay that is flat and not very exciting. The editing is all over the place and most of the characters are boring. This may not be all Ayer’s fault. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers gave him only six weeks to write whatever he could and went straight to shooting. Why did the studio let this happen?!

I will give Ayer props for making the cast unique in that it’s one of the few (maybe the only) comic book film with such a diverse group of actors in major roles.

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), forms a Suicide Squad in order to stop the Harlem-shaking, hip gyrating witch, Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) from destroying Midway City. The group roster includes, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a violent psychopath linked to the Joker; Deadshot (Will Smith), the world’s deadliest assassin; Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a crocodile humanoid; Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), an Aussie jewel thief; Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a Samurai with a magical sword; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a fire starting, gang banging cholo; Slipknot (Adam Beach), it’s not clear why he’s there or what he does; and Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), the gung-ho military consultant put there to keep the squad in check.

Don’t know if Ayer knew it, but he gave the characters of color, the most dynamic, perhaps, in-depth backstories. Both Will Smith as Deadshot and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller exceeded expectations in their respective roles. Smith is charming as Floyd Lawton, the world’s greatest marksman. He provides the right laughs at the right time — which is probably due to his comedic timing and not the plot itself. While Deadshot is the funny man, Amanda Waller is the one in charge. Waller is the liaison between the Suicide Squad, the meta-humans, and the caped superheroes, and she is also wrought with her own agenda. Davis is commanding and scary as Waller. You just know she is not one to be messed with.

Jay Hernandez as Diablo, while stereotypical, is a sympathetic character and is really the heart of Suicide Squad.  The role is well acted, and Jay Hernandez is really charismatic. From the audience reaction, he seems to be a crowd favorite. Killer Croc, also a super stereotypical role, did add some laughs and made Croc likable. And while Katana and Slipknot didn’t do or say much, I was still glad they were featured.

The supposed highlight characters of the film end up being part of the problem. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is a ‘fetch’ character. The film desperately tries to make her happen but it doesn’t work. Make no mistake, her acting isn’t bad, and she has the look, but the character and portrayal are poorly written and boring. More depth or backstory could have made her more sympathetic; instead, she’s just there taking up space. Harley’s counterpart, The Joker (Jared Leto), is even worse. He is given little to do in this which is probably why he had so much time on set to carry out creepy pranks on co-stars. He isn’t the main villain, and he’s not a part of the Squad either, so why the hell is he there? Leto takes himself too seriously and it screws up the flow of the film (whatever that ‘flow’ is).

Rick Flagg? Who gives a shit about him. In fact, Joel Kinnaman and Cara Delevingne were by far the least interesting and delivered the worst performances. While Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang is probably his best role to date, it’s nothing to write home about. Believe what you want, these characters could not have carried this movie without its PoC characters.

Aside from the performances, let me prove to you how diversity helped catapult this film to success. Deadline states:

PostTrak which is a box office exiting poll has collected data for Suicide Squad Friday night, that has African-American and Hispanic moviegoers making up 39% of the audience for Suicide Squad, with both audience demographic giving the film an 81% positive score.

Could you imagine this movie without Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, or Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje? Admit it, diversity saved this film. You know it, and I know it.


19 thoughts on “Admit it: Diversity Saved ‘Suicide Squad’

  1. That’s still kind of sad, though, right? If it had been the usual bunch of homogenized white dudes with a clunky script/direction, would it have been worth seeing?

  2. I really wanted to hate this movie but it was exactly the kind of mindless action movie that I love in the summer. Sure there were plot holes and horrible stereotypes but this movie was funny. It was action packed from start to finish. My theater was filled to capacity on a Thursday night. Not an Oscar winner but a nice action movie to see in the theater. Will Smith and Viola Davis made this movie work. Too much weird hip swiveling and bad accents for the rest.

  3. I completely agree with this article. This movie didn’t have a lot going for it besides its cast, most of which were luckily diverse. I just wish they would have given characters like Slipknot, Katana, and Croc time to develop. At least Smith and Davis brought their A-game, truly an example of good actors working with the pile of mess their given.

    1. As per usual, Native people get no damn respect…..The fact that unlike everyone else he doesn’t even get a proper intro did not bode well for Adam Beach’s Slipknot. His special skills appeared to be climbing buildings and knots or something and we’re not at all sure how he got captured. Suffice it to say his head gets blown up without delay.

  4. The casting is probably the film’s greatest strength. I could tell that most of the actors were doing the best with what they got (and agreed on Will Smith and Viola Davis; they were pitch perfect) and some like Margot Robbie could’ve been phenomenal with a better script. As for the overall script, I felt that it was trying to be another Guardians of the Galaxy, but it just doesn’t work because the Suicide Squad is very different (they’re actual villains, for one). Still, for what it was, this was a fun movie. Not great or even good, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

  5. Anybody think Enchantress’ costume and moves were a RIP OFF of Aaliyah as Akasha in QUEEN OF THE DAMNED?

  6. Will Smith may not pick the best movies to act in, but he is a damn good actor. So, it makes sense that he is one of the actors that carried this movie. As far as Jared Leto is concerned, I completely agree that he took himself way too seriously for this role and it just did not work. I was excited to see him in the role. I was so hoping that he would make it work but nope.

    1. If anything, I wanted to see more of Leto. It’s not his fault that they cut him from like, 8 scenes. Leto is an Academy Award-caliber actor. Will Smith is a very good actor. He was Oscar nominated for Pursuit of Happyness and Ali. I thought his work in Ali was a mere impersonation and while his acting was solid in Pursuit of Happyness it depends on the depth of the field at the time of nomination and there is no way in the world his performance exceeded that of Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland. OUTSTANDING!

      Will Smith is a major box off movie star but he’s not always the best actor.

  7. I’ve been a fan of the Waller character since the animated series I would call Amanda more like a anti hero she does bad things for the greater good and I find anti heroes more captivating than can do no wrong heroes. The animated series touched upon her motivations in a world of gods, aliens, people with superpowers, beings from other dimensions I’d be a little skeptic too. Killer Croc wow! He scared the crap out of me, if dinosaurs had evolved into a sapient species they’d probably look like that.

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