I’ll be talking about it at slightly greater length in this or next week’s episode of the podcast but, since I seldom catch a new-release movie anymore, I wanted to mention that I saw James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad over the weekend and liked it–but the affinity is tempered by a general superhero movie burnout. Are you feeling this?
Like I’ll catch the next Batman reboot, for sure, but when I look back at my movie consumption over the past few years I realize I haven’t caught more than a quarter of Marvel and DC releases. I was intrigued by the idea of the Snyder Cut, a four-hour auteur stab at a huge commercial IP, but the main thing that discouraged me from watching it is the idea that I should probably watch the theatrical cut first, so I could compare the two, but I hated Snyder’s last DCEU movie so much (Batman v Superman) that it seemed like more trouble than it was worth.
Today, thanks to their respective apps, I’m totally down to read a new run of a given DC or Marvel comic if someone tells me it’s worthwhile (I’ve found that, with a handful of chunky exceptions, it takes me about ten or fifteen minutes to read a comic book if I’m just trying to gobble the story and move on). But I’m reluctant to indulge that kind of experimentation with the movies. I’m also less forgiving of the disappointments. Because, in a movie, I’m trapped by the runtime. The director has more control over me than an author.
On a page in a novel or comic I can skim up and down and back again–I can move freely through time.
And, yeah, you can fast-forward and rewind a movie, but if you’re just sitting there with it…the story unfolds at its own temporal pace.
The Suicide Squad, though definitely one of the more interesting superhero movies of late, is also burdened by a runtime of more than two hours. Jay Bauman and Mike Stoklasa, from Red Letter Media, argued in their review (I think correctly) that Gunn earns his third-act mega-budget disaster movie extravaganza better than most of his colleagues earn theirs.
But it’s still a long mega-budget disaster movie extravaganza. And after a certain point it just feels like noise. Not so much here as in Man of Steel, or Age of Ultron or (God help us) Batman v. Superman, but still: I was hoping it would culminate in something more squabblesome and character-driven and modest.
Personally, I’m feeling kinda lukewarm, but I think that’s less to do with the movie’s strengths/failings than with my own feelings of exhaustion with the genre. Another thing: this movie’s got different storylines unfolding at once, shot in very different settings, plus the cast is pretty big–it seems like it must have been a logistical nightmare to shoot, so I’m incredibly impressed with Gunn’s mastery of his craft.
Final verdict: if you like violent comedies and superhero movies, I totally recommend it. But, as warmly as this’ll be received by today’s audience, I think it’s really gonna shine in 25 years, when we’re all removed from the superhero movie craze, and we look back to see which ones really had their own voice.