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How Suicide Squad is like the Detroit Lions

Wow, you guys, the Joker is really messed up

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Editor's note: This article contains mild spoilers to the movie Suicide Squad. Nothing that ruins the plot of the movie, but if you don't want to know a single thing that happens in the movie, you may want to click away from this article.

Early on, bombs are implanted in the necks of the protagonists

Suicide Squad, DC's latest attempt to desperately claw its way to catch up with a soulless Marvel juggernaut that's rapidly sinking Hollywood beneath its girthy, nerd-borne weight with disposable media bring their comic universe to life, is certainly fun. No, no. I'm sorry, that's the wrong word. In fact, this whole opening needs to be thrown in the trash and incinerated so we can try to process this again.

The whole of this movie is a filthy mess. Reshoots, plot holes the size of Neptune and film studio screwups has left what was once considered a forgettable mess at the start far more of a disaster than it needed to be. It's enjoyable on a base surface but the longer this movie sits with me the more enraged I become just thinking about it.

The basic premise of Suicide Squad seems to be about a group of convicted supervillains, divorced fathers and probably definitely racist Australian stereotypes who are gang-pressed into service as a black ops unit for the United States of America. There's plenty of political parallels that I think were intended to be drawn when it comes to this particular arrangement. However, unlike the Contras or the Afghan mujahideens, bombs are implanted into the necks of the various supervillains in order to keep them in line for a dramatically acceptable plot.

The Suicide Squad, whose name is intoned in the script with nary a wink or nod to the audience, is then sent off to save some Mr. MacGuffin and stop an Even Bigger Bad, and along the way find Jesus. I mean, they become friends, or something. Friends with bombs in their necks and cracking jokes about how dark and twisted they are.

Anyway, as this article is attempting to tie this movie's primary elements to anecdotes of the Detroit Lions, I can only assume the villains with neck-bombs are a metaphor for Jim Caldwell, who is coaching for his job yet again. Hell, this could probably apply for any number of similarly discarded Lions coaches who never crawl back into the ranks of NFL coaching after their stint in Detroit comes to an ignominious end. Marty Mornhinweg is definitely Slipknot, who gets his head blown off three minutes into the mission. Spoiler alert.

No one is laughing, Harley

Margot Robbie takes one of the two lead roles in the movie as Harley Quinn, the Joker's erstwhile girlfriend. When we're first introduced to her, she is being physically abused by the warden of a bayou black site; this is followed up with copious flashbacks to her past abuse at the hands of the Joker, a very twisted character played by Jared Leto, seething with craziness. I had to step out of the theater to say aloud "wow, that was really messed up" every time he spoke on screen. Harley was also very unnerving but I managed to hold myself together, just barely.

There is a fundamental scene to understanding Suicide Squad's disjointed ethos. The villains are rounded up and dropped into the city where Bad Stuff is happening and proceed to arm themselves with baseball bats, various firearms, boomerangs and hot pants. In the midst of this Harley Quinn blurts out some utterly twisted line, which is met by empty stares from a wall of US combat operators; this scene is obviously meant to imply that they are purebred American badasses unphased by such insanity.

Irony aside now, it's a pretty stupid scene. No one laughed at this sequence in the theater either. This is a good comp to Lions fans in the mid to late-2000s, who were certainly not laughing.

It's really just stitched together

No one could decide if they wanted this movie as "soul-destroying descent into hell" or "unstoppable jazz hands." The end product is something that dances between the two; not always to a fault, but the edges have a tendency to fray. It gets worse when these evil best of friends decide they need a timeout from wise-cracking jokes and caving in skulls to slink into a bar to brood and reflect on their dark and very serious natures. Harley becomes Very Serious when telling El Diablo to "own up" to his murder of his own wife and children.

It doesn't take more than a cursory glance into this movie's origins to understand just how incompetent Warner Bros. has handled this project. The script was written in just six weeks, the director was a greenhorn to projects of this magnitude and the studio interceded multiple times to demand reshoots and test screenings following the disaster of the last DC project, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Making POD Editor Ryan Mathews Insane.

If ever there was a poster child for the corporate-informed death drive pushing Hollywood's obsession with brands and franchises, Suicide Squad's bloated carcass lays upon a pedestal. Here is a movie envisioned fully as a brand before anything else; before even being a movie. This wasn't a project that was informed by the need to create art (however diluted the art is by attaching a brand) but rather by some idiot with a MBA who specialized in risk management.

Obviously, this represents Joe Lombardi's offensive system and his failures to force it upon Matthew Stafford.

Unnecessary ninja girl

Exacerbating an already tortured film, and more than likely informed by the aforementioned need to become a brand, Suicide Squad is replete with characters that just stand around and don't need to be there. I don't know who Katana is and I don't think anyone in the theater got a sense of who she was by the time the movie was over. Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang is just in this film to offend Australians and possibly furries. Even the much touted Jared Leto feels unnecessary; remarkable given that he has only a few more minutes of screen-time than the dubbed-over stunt double filling in for Ben Affleck.

I understand this is a reality of dealing with a movie adaptation of a comic book, but most everyone outside of Will Smith (Deadshot) and Margot Robbie feels extraneous. That's not to say the acting is bad per se; most everyone is at least competent if not good at fleshing out their respective characters. Somehow, the sum comes out less than the individual parts.

This one doesn't need much thought. It's not hard to see this as an indictment of years of Martin Mayhew and Matt Millen attempting to draft top talent.

That said, there is also El Diablo, who controls fire and we later find out he's a sort of Aztec fire god or something. He disappears randomly during the climax and it's never clearly stated what happens to him; this is Calvin Johnson's abrupt departure.

Nah nyah nah nah nah

The use of radio hits in cinema is nothing new, but Suicide Squad is remarkable in just how incompetent and cynical the attempts to use music come off. Long after the movie abandons the pretense it's trying to be funny, the final credits roll as Imagine Dragons wail "I TORTURE YOUUUUUUUUUUU." The human language was a mistake.

It is a selection of the most overused, rote, pop/hip-hop and classic rock selection possible; the bloated carcass of Rolling Stones meets Action Bronson. When Killer Croc was introduced to Creedence Clearwater Revival "Fortunate Son" it took the power of the gods to not stand up and yell "oh come the hell on!" It's that kind of tripe, Bohemian Rhapsody and all the rest, that turns this attempt to lighten the mood to a very dark place.

The way this ties back to the Detroit Lions is that this film, like many Michiganders, continue to insist that Marshall Mathers makes music worth listening to.

Oh yeah, Batman shows up and ruthlessly kicks Will Smith's butt

Clearly this is code for playing the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau up until 2015.


Still, I suppose there were parts that were enjoyable. Will Smith put in an excellent performance as the only character he really knows how to do, but the variations on said character while playing Deadshot make him exceptionally compelling. Margot Robbie is good. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, avatar for the American state's ruthless id, should probably get an award somewhere, for something.

The Lions don't necessarily play spectacular football or win that much, but y'all Lions fans out there keep coming back. I'd like to think you're at least partially entertained and not just a bunch of masochists.

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