Cosplays at Comicpalooza Are Always Fun

It’s amazing how people react to me when I put on a Spider-Man costume. I don’t know how many kids, teens, and adults either fist-bumped, hugged, or posed for pictures with me on Saturday at Comicpalooza, but it was a lot. I know they’re responding to the costume, and the positive associations they have with Spider-Man when they see me, and it’s always a rewarding experience.

I like to think there’s at least one part I bring to the cosplay that goes beyond just the costume, though. Striking dynamic poses and imitating Spider-Man’s mannerisms is something I’ve come to also enjoy about “being” Spider-Man. I’ve studied his movements from movies, cartoons, and video games, and do what I can to incorporate them into my disguise.

I know I’ve gotten more than a couple of good-natured giggles when I’ve crouched up on the seat of a chair, knees bent and arms gripping the front of the seat between my legs, turning my head in short, quick motions. Con-goers and fans have often reacted with surprise and admiration when I’ve crouched into a Spidey pose for a picture. I also make a point of talking in a friendly, interested manner to any little kids who notice me, something that parents always seem to appreciate.

During the con, I had one little girl, a tiny, cute little thing whom I could scarcely believe was old enough to be walking, run up to me and give me a hug. She was so far ahead of her mother that we finished the hug before the mother was able to catch up with her, so she had to hug me again in order for her mother to take the picture. When we were done, her mother was so grateful and happy that her daughter got to give her favorite superhero a hug.

Another little boy was so excited to see me, he ran to get into the picture I was taking with his older brother, yelling, “SPIDER-MAAAAAN!!” all the way until he crashed into me with a hug. It was without a doubt one of the funniest, most satisfying moments of the weekend. I high-fived both brothers afterwards, told them to enjoy the con, and wished them and their parents well as they headed off into the growing crowd.

These are the kinds of moments I live for. They’re one of the big reasons I do cosplays in the first place.

Spider-Man in particular gets a lot of love at these kinds of events, though he’s by no means the only cosplay I’ve done. Past costumes have included Nightwing, Hawkeye, the Crow, and an anonymous Jedi. I consider them all wins, as I’ve always gotten at least one compliment from an onlooker. I realize that may make my standards low, but I think as long as anyone has enjoyed the cosplay I’ve put together, then that’s all I need to know.

To say I enjoy doing cosplays would be an understatement. I look for any and every reason to put on a costume and let my nerd flag fly. Just ask any of my co-workers!

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Yes, People Blame 2016 on Their Grief, and That’s Okay

It’s been a near-universal constant that 2016 has been a difficult year.  Between the deaths of high-profile celebrities and entertainers, as well as political upheavals, it pretty much goes without saying that 2016 was fraught with many an infamous moment. Heck, 2016 may be a hurtful year to you if you’re a rabid enough White Sox fan (something I say with authority–I’ve seen some appalling words and behavior from White Sox fans directed at Cubs enthusiasts).

It’s gotten to the point that people blaming the year itself has become the default response whenever we hear about another celebrity death.  It’s as if 2016 has become the personification of death and despair itself:

  • “Damn you 2016, don’t you DARE take Carrie Fisher from us!”
  • “I’m done with you, 2016.  WHY did you take Anton Yelchin from us?!”
  • “Omg, 2016, how could you allow a giant Oompa-Loompa to take the White House?”
These are certainly not the most rational of responses, but as most of them are fueled by grief, they make a certain amount of sense.  2016 is certainly the common denominator for a number of grief-inducing events, from the deaths of beloved entertainers such as David Bowie and Alan Rickman to the Brexit decision and the 2016 US election, depending on how you view your politics. A lot of people had a lot of emotional capital invested in these people or situations, and when they imploded or expired, it’s natural that a grief response would follow.
But perhaps inevitably, there is an emerging backlash rearing its head online.
I’ve lately been seeing a lot of posts denigrating people for “blaming 2016” for the terrible things that have happened over the last 12 months.  These sentiments are typically coached in terms of pedantic rationalism, with posters bemoaning people’s lack of self-awareness and sense of accountability; or in a simple grumpiness that “things happen” and that people blaming a year makes said poster sick.  I’m now just waiting for someone to swoop in with the “time is a social construct, and doesn’t really exist, and by blaming a unit of time for your problems you are showing how small you are,” argument.
Such posts may give their originators a temporary sense of superiority, or allow them to think themselves smarter than the average bear, but all it really does is show them to be far too concerned with how others grieve.  I think it’s a reasonable assumption that most of the people cursing 2016 don’t actually think it’s a person or entity capable of deliberately wreaking havoc on the things and people we love.  It’s an obviously irrational act, born from an emotion that is typically not known for inducing calm deliberation in those afflicted with it.
Step off and let people feel what they feel, for crying out loud.
 
2016 HAS been an unusually turbulent year, and some people choose to grieve by collectively blaming the year, much the same way they celebrate the fandoms they love. Just because one doesn’t see the appeal of Star Wars, Star Trek, or Doctor Who doesn’t mean that person should make fun of others for liking them.  By the same measure, someone doesn’t respond to these events the same way as others should not try to browbeat people into thinking and feeling the way they do.
better_than_youIf you’re one of those folks who feels the need to make these snarky response posts, take my advice and just let people grieve in the way that most fits them.  I know it may be a little annoying, but it’s not like it isn’t coming from a genuine place.  Trying to put people in their “place” for their venting only makes you come off as douchey, elitist, and far too concerned with others’s responses to things that don’t concern you. You’re just a half step removed from being a bully.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Three Seasons In

As the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. officially kicks off tonight, I figure it’s timely for me to give voice to the things I love–and don’t really love so much–about this show.  It has the distinction of being the only broadcast television show I follow faithfully, and its status as a Marvel Cinematic Universe property may have more than a little to do with that.  Everything else I watch is usually either Netflix (hello Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and soon Luke Cage!), some other streaming service, after the fact, or some blend of the three.

So why is it that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets this extra effort from me?  Is it that I’m an MCU junkie, who just doesn’t care what it is, as long as it has the Marvel IP attached to it?  Do I strive for interconnectivity between the movies and the shows, despite how little of it we actually see?  Have I actually grown attached to some of these characters and storylines, many of whom are not born from the comics?

If you couldn’t already tell, the answer is a little bit of all three.

agents_of_shield_logoAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got off to a bumpy, if charming start, banking on the likability of its characters as much as Phil Coulson’s “connection” to the films.  People tuned out after a couple of episodes, and the main complaint at the time seemed to be its lack of utilizing flashy, powered characters from the comics that weren’t being used in the films.  I remember seeing more than a few commenters upset that Mike Peterson didn’t turn out to be Luke Cage during the first episode, for instance.

While I understand the desire for this from comic book fans, I don’t consider it a very legitimate criticism, as S.H.I.E.L.D. has always been a spy organization first and foremost. The premise of this television show was therefore primarily a spy drama.  How non-powered people handle life in this reality should be, and I feel has been, a primary thread of exploration in this series, even when the show doesn’t always acknowledge it.

I will admit, during this initial stretch of episodes is when the show seemed to be at its weakest. The pacing was sometimes slow, and there seemed an over-reliance on why Coulson was still alive, and was dragged on longer than it needed to be.  Still, the group dynamic between the characters, from orphaned protagonist Skye to stoic badass Melinda May to the bantering British duo of Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, made for a fun enough ensemble that I cared enough to keep following their evolution as a group and a team.

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-posterThen, those of us who did stick around learned something important about season 1: it was, by necessity, hamstrung on what it could explore in relation to the movie studio to which it was connected. Even so, there were glimpses and flashes of what the show could be in some of the earlier episodes, such as “Eye Spy.” When Captain America: Winter Soldier blew the lid off the first season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. became a lot stronger and more action-packed in its storytelling, and I would argue has maintained a compelling narrative ever since.

The end of season 1 brought about some revelations, as these kinds of shows tend to do, and we got to explore them in the second season.  Skye, we find out, is (and has always been intended to be) Daisy Johnson, a character from the comics known as Quake.  Her origin has been changed from a mutant (mutants don’t exist in the MCU due to Fox having the film rights to them) to an Inhuman, and her Inhuman origins are explored.  Several new characters and arcs are introduced, including one of my personal favorites, Mack, who proves both instrumental in helping Fitz adapt to his new condition, and a member of a splinter S.H.I.E.L.D. group that nearly takes Coulson’s group down.

Some of the elements in this season could have been handled better.  More showing instead of telling, for instance, about the Inhumans, their history, and their abilities.  Coulson’s need to draw alien symbols also could have benefited from a stronger explanation that wasn’t dragged out for as long as it was.  And don’t get me started on how they handled Fitz’s injury and eventual recovery from season 1.  It was entirely too quick and clean, and ultimately should have been one of the few things that took significantly longer than it ended up taking.

agents-of-s-h-i-e-l-d-130281On the other hand, there are plenty of strengths to this season.  Daisy (not Skye anymore!) meets and ultimately has conflicts with both of her parents, leading to a final showdown that is both heartbreaking and memorable.  Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird!) is introduced, and is wonderfully played by Adrianne Palicki, as is Nick Blood’s character Lance Hunter.  Mack and the “other, real S.H.I.E.L.D.” storyline was also memorable, particularly as well as actor Henry Simmons played his scenes.  And the Inhumans situation is brought to a head at the end of the season, setting up a good portion of the themes in season 3.

Season 3 had more good points than not so good, in my opinion, but its exploration of the history of Hydra and its link to the Inhumans (and the Kree) was front and center here.  We finally get to see the traitor, Grant Ward, die (twice!), and the fifth episode, “4,722 Hours,” stands out as quite possibly my favorite episode of the entire show so far.  Coulson starts working with a legitimate arm of the U.S. government, and eventually begins a romance with its head, Rosalind Price.  Her sudden and cruel death was one of the moments I disliked most about the season, as they’d done a good job of making her likable, and Coulson’s reaction to it had all the classic signs of Women In Refrigerators that we see in comics so often.

agents-of-shield-season-3-what-planet-was-simmons-on-684191Ward’s “evolution” into the character Maveth made for a legitimately world-ending threat, pressing S.H.I.E.L.D. to its limits as they finally broke out the Secret Warriors.  Several excellent Inhuman characters comprised this team, including Joey Gutierrez, who can melt metals, and Elena Rodriguez, a speedster.  When that threat is finally taken care of, Hydra seems to finally be obliterated, and the focus of the show may seem to finally shift from Inhumans to… Ghost Rider?

As we head into season 4, I’m as excited to see Robbie Reyes’s Ghost Rider as a number of people are upset that it’s not Johnny Blaze’s motorcycle-riding demon.  I think their use of a newer character with less history to “stick to” opens up a lot of narrative possibilities that could make for great storytelling.  I’ve not read any of his comics, yet, but I’ve heard good things about it, and have been pleased with the glimpses of the character we’ve seen thus far.

I’m hoping I’ll be hooked enough on him to start looking for his comics.  I’m hoping this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with its new time slot, proves to be its strongest yet.  If it goes darker, as I believe it will, I think we’ll have another strong base from which to improve an already good show.

If you haven’t watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.–or even if you watched it at first and dropped off soon after–give it a watch this season.  I’m more convinced than ever this show is going to be a great (ghost) ride!  (no apologies for the pun!)

Tony’s Lists: Things I Finally Got Around to Trying That Made Me Think, “What Took Me So Long?!”

Between the hectic hum-drum that tends to run most of our lives, people are often very careful about what they decide to check out on a friend’s recommendation.  The time we get is, at least to our own viewpoints, sparse, and therefore precious.  I’ve had books, shows, video games, and all manner of other consumables recommended to me by my friends that I’d ignored at the time–sometimes for years–before finally giving them a try.  Sometimes, they were worth the time investment, and other times, not so much.

Then there are those things that I finally got around to watching, reading, playing, and so forth, and came away going, “Oh my god!  This is awesome!  WHY the hell did I wait so long to get into this?!”  The following list represents a small sampling of media that I:

  1. had recommended to me by a friend;
  2. put off actually checking out for a significant chunk of time (at least a few months); and
  3. was wowed by it, to the point of kicking myself for not checking it out when my friends made their recommendations.

For extra fun, I’m listing the names of my friends (first names only) who made these recommendations in the first place, so they can say, “Told you so!” if and when they read this.

Here goes:

doctor_who_logo_23Doctor Who (Colin) — I was not prepared for how much I loved this show.  I came on board right as Matt Smith became the Eleventh Doctor, and I was hooked from the get-go!  I not only watched everything I could of Eleven’s adventures, but also Nine, Ten, and some of the older movies (I believe The Three Doctors was the first I watched).  Admittedly, it gets a bit too wacky and inconsistent for me sometimes, and while I’m not currently following it, I’m sure I’ll love it when I come back around to the Time Lord’s adventures.

firefly-serenity_sxscustomFirefly (Rebecca) — In a way, Firefly was one of the saddest things I ever watched, as it showed me firsthand that just because a show is good–and I mean, really good–that doesn’t mean it’ll get to run as long as it deserves.  Still, the episodes in that one season were amazing, as was the follow-up movie Serenity.  I count myself as a Browncoat, and still live in perpetual, irrational hope that the series will get continued on screen.

cover-gobletoffireHarry Potter (Shaun) — Oh, Harry Potter.  How I misjudged you.  I was working retail at a bookstore when I first encountered these books, and their sheer popularity irked me.  I even accompanied my friend Shaun to a midnight release of Goblet of Fire (the book, not the movie), and couldn’t understand what the big deal was.  I finally decided to give the first book a try.  It had ONE CHAPTER to capture my interest, or I would put it down and denigrate the series all I wanted.  Needless to say, it won me over hard, and I can’t imagine my fandom card without it.

batman-arkham-asylum-crack-download-free-full-version-pc-torrent-crack-1Batman: Arkham Asylum (Alex) — Talk about an experience I denied myself for far too long!  This game, as well as its sequels Arkham City, Arkham Origins, and Arkham Knight, were as close as I’ve ever experienced to actually BEING Batman in a video game.  The stories were well told and dazzlingly produced, and the voice casting was top-notch.  I finally finished Arkham Asylum just before Arkham City came out, and you can bet I’ve been at the midnight releases of all the other games since.

d96047310621f8a9ddebe602e9b1898bHeroes (Ed) — I was told by more than one person that they couldn’t believe I, of all people, wasn’t watching Heroes when it first came out a decade or so ago.  It did seem right up my alley, as I am massively into comic books and superheroes, but at the time I just wasn’t watching television much.  When I finally was exposed to the first few episodes by my girlfriend at the time, I was instantly hooked!  Of course, we broke up before I could get more than a few episodes in, and I haven’t watched since, but you can bet I’ll come back around to it eventually.

5271584-2213851722-harryThe Dresden Files (Krystal) — Mr. Potter is not the only magic-user named Harry that makes this list.  This one’s got a special place in my heart, because technically, I didn’t “put this one off” at all.  I was told how good they were, and then put a hold on an audiobook version through my library.  And I checked it out when the hold came through–A YEAR LATER.  But I loved it, and now I’m eagerly awaiting the other books on audio so I can see what I’ve been missing for the last 15 years!

What are some surprise recommendations that you put off for far too long?  I know I can’t be the only one who’s eating crow for not taking my friends seriously…

Why the Zendaya Spider-Man Movie Controversy Isn’t a Big Deal to Me… and Shouldn’t Be to You

It seems there’s been a slow-burning uproar the last few days, since The Wrap posted an article leaking the alleged “real” role that young actress Zendaya has been cast for the upcoming film Spider-Man: Homecoming.  In it, the article states that Zendaya, a young woman of color, will be playing the role of Mary Jane Watson, whom Spider-Man fans know to be the most iconic and well-known of Spider-Man’s love interests.  In response, many fanboys–most of them white, of course–have taken to various social medias and websites to vent their collective outrage over this decision by the powers at Sony.

As a Spider-Man super fan myself, I’ve been aware of this announcement since it went live, and somewhat vaguely aware of the “backlash” that’s resulted.  To be perfectly honest, it’s hard for me to get worked up over this issue, for a number of reasons.

  1. MJ’s race doesn’t fucking matter!  I love the way I’ve seen most of the racists coding their response to this one.  They know damn well they can’t openly say, “I’m angry because MJ shouldn’t be black!”, so instead they attack her hair color.  “MJ should be a redhead!” they shout.  It’s purely code for saying she should be white, which is complete and utter bullcrap.  I’ll say here what I’ve said elsewhere: with very few exceptions, there are almost no Marvel comic book characters whose origins and backstories demand they be white.  The Human Torch.  Doctor Strange.  Iron Fist.  Hell, Iron Man, for that matter.  And Spider-Man, as well as his supporting cast.  Anyone who claims these characters must be exactly as they have been portrayed in the comics is saying so from a position of privileged ignorance
  2. It’s not official, at least not yet.  The Wrap article, while it has certainly touched off a minor firestorm with this alleged development, can’t actually be officially taken at its word… yet.  Until Marvel or Sony comments one way or the other, this is just a high-profile piece of gossip from a website.  Does it sound like something Marvel would do?  Yes it does.  Does it seem like a logical development to include MJ in the Spider-Man films?  Totally.  Would Zendaya be the proper age to play MJ in a high school iteration of Spider-Man?  Hell yes.  But until we hear something official, we may be getting wound up over nothing.
  3. The racists are clearly losing, anyway.  There’s been more focus on the backlash against the backlash.  I’ve seen articles where Twitter trolls get schooled for their coded comments about Zendaya’s race, and hair color.  Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has defended the concept of a person of color playing MJ, very eloquently citing need for our movies to reflect the diversity of the world in which we live.  The “controversy” surrounding this hypothetical piece of casting is really nothing more than the slowly, noticeably, deteriorating yelling of the privileged racists whose voices are becoming less and less important as time goes on.  The powers at Marvel and Sony are not listening, and continuing to make movies and shows that prove to be highly successful, both financially and critically.

On a personal note, if Zendaya is indeed portraying MJ in Spider-Man: Homecoming, I am a-okay with this, in exactly the way I would have been okay with a Peter Parker who had been cast as a person of color.  I’m not familiar with her work, but I will say that she does look stunning, and I’m willing to bet that Marvel and Sony would be putting her in the role because they know she can do the character justice.  To me, that’s all that matters, and Marvel has long since earned my trust in these areas.

If Zendaya is MJ, bring it on!  I’m sure she’ll be wonderful.

Fandoms: Learn to Play In the Sandbox Together, or Get the Hell Out

Don’t expect to insult my fandom to promote yours and expect we’ll be friends for very long.

There.  I needed to say that, and get the venom out.

I like to think I’m a pretty accepting person, all things considered.  I prefer Marvel comics to DC comics for the most part, though I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge when certain DC stories get things right that Marvel either doesn’t or hasn’t in some time.  I like both Star Wars and Star Trek, and don’t understand why people have to choose one or the other.  I like Doctor Who at certain stretches, and am not so hot on it for others.  I love Firefly.

And there are plenty of other fandoms I like.  There are fandoms I’m not so hot on.  There are plenty of fandoms I just haven’t had the opportunity to explore, and may or may not discover in the future.  And I’m fine with all of those things.

You like My Little Pony?  Wonderful.  It’s not my cup of tea, but it works for you, and that’s what’s important.

But one thing I’m not okay with?  Don’t ever insult my fandom to try to make yours seem better.  I will knock you flat on your ass if you do so.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of material online that denigrates Marvel and simultaneously extols DC.  Tawdry, sensationalistic, clickbait-y headlines and memes that use the Us vs. Them premise to lure readers into their pointless and often terribly written content.  Typically, when I see dreck such as this, I generally just roll my eyes and keep going.  But lately I’ve seen enough of it, as well as re-postings of it from people I actually care about, that it’s starting to impinge on my overall enjoyment of my fandom.

This, friends, is not acceptable.

does-marvel-appreciate-their-fans-more-than-dcI’m not one to go around starting fights.  I prefer Marvel to DC, but again, I’m willing to give them credit when and where it’s due.  More importantly, I’m actually rooting for the DCEU to be as successful as the MCU, even though I think they are far behind in terms of execution at this point.  I want them to have a tentpole franchise they can be proud of.  I am not willing to lower myself into a mudslinging fight that we see so often, both online and in pop culture forums, where one side is yelling “MARVEL SUCKS!” and the other is yelling “DC SUCKS!” as loud as they can.  It’s pointless and puerile, and I want no part of it.

And I expect the same treatment from those around me.

You want to think Marvel sucks and DC buries it?  Go ahead.  Think it all you want.  But the moment you open your mouth and say something to that effect and insult my fandom, you and I are going to have problems.

It’s fine if you prefer DC to Marvel.  It works better for you, and Marvel works better for me.  There’s no reason to start insulting the other.  It’s a big, wide, wonderful world, and there’s plenty of room in the sandbox for everyone to play.  I don’t understand why people feel the need to tear others down in order to make themselves feel better, but one thing I can do is refuse to tolerate it.

So consider this a warning, dear reader.  You’re free to disagree with me all you want.  You don’t have to like what I like, so long as you express your disagreement respectfully.  I will never trash talk your fandom or franchise, and I think it’s not asking too much to expect the same from others.

The moment you put a foot out of line and spew bile all over a thing I hold dear, you can expect to be warned, once.  After that, if you continue, expect that I will censor the hell out of you.

It’s not about having a different opinion.  It’s about being able to disagree like adults.  If you don’t know how to do that, don’t expect me to hold your hand.

I’ll just show you the door.english-idioms-show-the-door-300x194

Oh, and one addendum: this cuts both ways.  Marvel fans insulting DC fans, for example, will also be shown the door.

Play nice, everyone, with everyone.

Suicide Squad Inspires Wide Range of Reactions, Thoughts About Film Reviews

To be honest, the most intriguing characteristic of Suicide Squad, the film of DC villain misfits cobbled together to serve a kind of black ops kill squad for the government, is the wide-ranging spectrum of feedback it has received, and the fallout that’s resulted from it.  The film itself, while not particularly remarkable, makes for an entertaining, serviceable-enough action romp that’s garnered itself the dubious distinction of being a more watchable part of the emerging DC Extended Universe than its two predecessors, 2013’s Man of Steel, and this year’s Orphan Fight: The Movie, aka, Batman vs. Superman.longrange061015-860x450_c
After watching this film on Thursday and taking the rest of the weekend to simply scroll through all the reactions to it, I find myself mystified by a number of developments around it.  Off the top of my head, here are a few of them.

  1. This movie does not deserve all the hate it’s been getting.
    I know I’m not the only one to say this, and the weekend box office projections will certainly back that up, but it looks like Suicide Squad is going to break records despite the sheer ferocity with it’s been attacked by critics from all sides.  I’ve seen terrible review after terrible review, roundly lambasting it for its flaws–of which, make no mistake, it has quite a few–but rarely giving it credit for the things it manages to get right, or dismissively glossing them over when mentioned at all.  An actual viewing of the actual film leaves me with the impression that some critics are all too eager to see this film fail, and are giving it much shorter shrift than it deserves.

    However, by the same token…

  2. Critics are not beholden to justify their ratings or placate fans.
    Okay, wow.

    I realize Rotten Tomatoes isn’t without its critics and detractors.  I realize that fans will want to defend a film they want to succeed–and it’s clearly the fans who are making Suicide Squad successful, which I wholly endorse.  But starting a petition to shut down a website whose stated purpose is to rate and critique films that are released is taking things waaaaay too far.

    Film critics and reviewers, while they can tend to see a film through a lens that can at times paint them as snobbish or pretentious, are, at the end of the day, individuals commenting on a movie, the same as you and me.  Rotten Tomatoes itself doesn’t rate films–it collects the many reviews it gets from its film critics and uses an algorithm to determine the movie’s score from those reviews.  Bottom line: it’s a tool that gathers data, crunches numbers, and spits out a rating.  If you have a problem with the score given to Suicide Squad, you have a problem with the individual critics who reviewed it negatively–not Rotten Tomatoes itself.  This is an important distinction to realize if you want to be taken seriously.

    With that said, it’s important to realize that film reviewers are not required to change their opinions just because fans may disagree with them.  I’ve seen fan after fan repeat the line I heard during BvS‘s critical drubbing, that Disney/Marvel was paying money to critics to intentionally sink DC films, so that they wouldn’t be able to compete with Marvel’s own films from the MCU.  There is no evidence that this has ever been true, and until shown otherwise, there’s no reason to give any consideration to such wild accusations.  Fans can disagree–vehemently, if they wish–with a reviewer’s opinion, and state as much, but after that, the safest move they can make is to walk away in disgust.

  3. The movie itself is perfectly watchable.
    And finally, I’m at the review itself.

    Suicide Squad is an enjoyable, fun film, with a talented cast and decent direction.  It does indeed suffer from a few issues–it’s unevenly paced, the villain ends up being lackluster, and there are a few supporting characters who may as well not even have been there.  None of this, however, undercuts the basic premise of the movie, which is to grab a few DC villains, throw them all together against a big bad threat, and have some fun while doing it.

    Margot Robbie, Will Smith, and Viola Davis are the standouts in this outing by far.  Robbie’s Harley Quinn without a doubt is having the most fun, and we get to see bits and pieces of her journey from Dr. Harleen Quinzel to the Joker’s main squeeze, Harley.  It’s an entertaining performance of material that is somewhat two dimensionaly written, and she brings the charm and snark with aplomb.  Will Smith’s Deadshot, surprisingly, ends up being the character through whose eyes we see the most of the plot, and identify with the most.  He’s the most heroic of an unheroic bunch, playing the straight man whose past has caught up to him in a believable fashion.  Viola Davis also turns in an amazing performance as Amanda Waller, the boss from hell who is determined to control anything and everything about her newly-formed task force.  She plays the part of cool, manipulative superior with all the magnificent bastardry that fans of the comics would expect from this character, and is impossible not to watch in every scene she is in.  The writing isn’t the best in this film, but it’s easy to see that the actors did everything they could with what they had, and I commend them for their collective efforts.

    Special mention goes to Jay Hernandez’s character, El Diablo, who is played with quiet solemnity until a particularly badass moment in the story’s climax.

    While the story tends to give the most focus to these characters, we get a few inclusions that make you wonder why they even showed up.  One character seems to only be there for the purpose of showing how severe the punishment is for trying to escape the arrangement set up by Amanda Waller.  Another character, Captain Boomerang, feels like the only reason he exists is to give an almost literal 2-second cameo to another character, and Killer Croc, Katana, while the remaining characters are given virtually no development.  I realize this isn’t easy to do in a film with this many people, but it still feels like we’re left wanting.

    The villain ends up being another nominal member of the group who goes rogue, and I can’t get over how forgettable she ends up being.  While there are a lot of nice visuals and special effects centered around this character, there’s also plenty of confusion as to how she’s able to break free on her own, as well as a lack of depth to her character that keeps her from standing out among the legion of movie villains with generic motivations.

    Plot-wise, it’s pretty easy to follow.  We get a series of origin stories as the main characters are introduced, fun to watch for their visual flair.  As the team goes on its first mission, things change in terms of tone and pacing, jarring viewers as the squad ends up fighting monsters sent forth by the villain.  There are moments of humor mixed in with the action, and while the plot spirals into your standard boss battle finale, it’s carried through with enough irreverance to be satisfying.

    You might notice I’ve said nothing about Jared Leto’s Joker until now, and it’s because I don’t feel he belongs in this story.  This Joker is decent enough, I suppose, but he’s mostly outside of the narrative, and should have stayed confined to Harley’s flashback origins.  We may get to see more of him in a future movie, but I feel like he’s both underused and entirely unnecessary to the plot.

    All in all, this is a film that wants to have fun, and does manage to succeed in a few places.  It’s not the homerun I’m sure Warner Bros. wants it to be, but it’s by no means a bad film either.  However, in comparison to BvS, and I would argue Man of Steel, it’s leaps and bounds ahead where tone and overall enjoyment are concerned.  Hopefully as the DCEU moves forward, its films will get increasingly more entertaining and memorable.  Suicide Squad is definitely a step in the right direction, even if it doesn’t quite succeed at the level to which it aspires.

In this age of the internet and social media in which we live, it’s more important than ever we keep vigilant about the headlines we see.  As Suicide Squad has shown, it’s very possible that you’ll experience something very different than what you read about or research yourself.