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Before the Suicide Squad enters a battle against a city smashing, extraterrestrial starfish, and somewhere in the midst of John Cena rocking form-fitting “undergarments,” and even after the first Suicide Squad invading force fails miserably, this Suicide Squad movie is unusually antagonistic.

Consider DC holds in their canon Superman, decked out in American colors after a childhood spent in the purest of midwestern farmlands. In steps Peacemaker (Cena) who will protect freedom even if it means killing every man, woman, and child to achieve it. If Superman is pure, then Peacemaker is a live action Team America satire.

If Suicide Squad can leave an imprint on culture… it’s for the sharpened thematic content

It’s hard to take Suicide Squad seriously in any capacity. Again, there’s a space-born starfish, probably inspired by the obscure Warning from Space. The comedy rolls along, not consistently, but enough so. Certainly, the opening 15-minutes rank as pure superhero parody in the best way.

To Suicide Squad’s credit, it does make a valiant attempt to demonize an egotistical nationalism. In World War II, the Japanese ran Unit 731, committing unspeakable crimes for revolting research purposes. Americans let a majority of the perpetrators off in exchange for the data. And that, unlikely as it seems, becomes Suicide Squad’s plot – just hidden by the 100-foot tall starfish. From space.

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) continues a comic book superstar status; she’s the box office draw, if the least influential to anything happening in this story. It’s Peacemaker and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniel Melchoir) who matter, the two opposing forces on an opposite generational divide. First, that’s comedy, Peacemaker railing against a lazy millennial who won’t get out of bed to serve her country. Second, it’s an argument over what patriotism is – following orders or exposing the country’s most toxic side.

Suicide Squad won’t earn praise for its intelligence. The revolting yet hilarious cartoon violence diminishes serious critique, but if Suicide Squad can leave an imprint on culture among this deluge of superhero fantasies, it’s the sharpened thematic content. Consider the story that sends America’s worst into a movie-derivative, South American dictatorship (played to the maximum allowed stereotypes) in what politically appears as a means to spread freedom. In reality, the government willingly sacrifices an entire city to preserve a secret.

James Gunn’s script uses comedy to soften the blow. Team America did too. Maybe these films are prepping mainstream audiences for a gruesome truth to come, using endless escapism to project an imperfect ideology. This one happens to star a bipedal shark instead of puppets.

The Suicide Squad
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Strikingly funny and even more strikingly political, The Suicide Squad is an imperfect gem in the superhero pantheon.

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