Assault on our Sensibilities
Comic book worlds are tied together through their different universes. At least that is how it used to be. Except when it comes to the big and small screen. Translating all of comic imagery and ideas into live action works seems to be just as difficult now as it is for any other written work.
Mind you, Marvel and Disney are doing what they can to bridge that gap and often they are doing it well. But then there is DC comics and their movies.
I have actually been a fan of their animated films and shows so much more than the live action stuff they do. Well, aside from anything Batman. Though I still haven’t seen Batman vs. Superman and I will not see it till I can pick it up at the library. Sadly, I can’t see spending good money on something I am going to be disappointed with. (Wow, that was kinda harsh, but still true. Too often lately the movies in the theaters are so disappointing and bland that it hurts to waste money on them).
There is a reason I bring this up.
We went to Suicide Squad recently. Mind you, we went to a discount theater. I think we spent less than 20 bucks for popcorn, drinks, and the tickets for the show. Sure we had a drive to get to the theater but at those prices it balanced out pretty good.
And here is the crux of the matter. I don’t think I wasted my money to see it in the theater, but I am so glad I didn’t spend more for the show. The thing is, it wasn’t great; it was good enough that I will watch it a few more times when I can get it on video.
The actors did great with the roles they were given (granted I hate the joker as they have him depicted now). And the story was as ludicrous as a super hero or anti hero story should be. But it was missing something. Sure you can go online and listen to all sorts of reviewers give their two cents on the issues involved and people will complain or praise this, that, and the other thing, but even then I don’t think they are quite hitting the nail dead on.
The movie just felt flat (I didn’t have the words to describe it and that was the feeling).
And then we picked up Assault on Arkham. This was the original Suicide Squad comic movie. And again you can look online and find all sorts of reviews that talk about this, that, and the other thing. But it is when you look at both movies side by side that you really see where the flatness of the live action comes in. Or more to the point, you see where the cartoon captures the feeling of the stories.
The stakes in the stories were as different as night and day. And that was part of the problem. In the movie they took a team that has some heavy hitters in it (no Harley is not a heavy hitter in this analogy). But even they are meant for a different type of story. Assault on Arkham is a caper story, while Suicide Squad was a super powered villain destroys the world story (call it what you want, that fits the idea).
For a destroy the world story you need super powers like Superman or Wonder Woman, the heavy hitters that are going to stand up to big evil and not back down even when they are failing. Sure you can have unlikely heroes for these stories but in the end it boils down to exactly what you expect to happen.
And this is where the live action fell flat. They tried to turn a destroy the world story into a caper. Essentially, their entire premise was to con the viewer. Sure, you expect that in a caper. You go in knowing that they are going to pull a fast one.
And this is where it crashed and burned.
Harley was the big draw of the event, well her and the Joker. They cut the Joker out except for little bits here and there. It wasn’t his movie and people should expect that. But essentially, there was absolutely no reason for Harley to even be part of the team in this particular story. That was the set up. Here we are thinking she is eye candy and all the other crap we might want to throw in there. But in reality she served no purpose to the story what so ever. Until the very end.
And this is where the hammer fell (yep, I went there). Harley who serves no distinguishable purpose till that moment is the one who wins the day. Can we say contrived?
They pulled a long con and there was just too much riding on one thing. And none of it really mattered…
Which brings us back to the other story line. Assault on Arkham is a heist story. Every character within the framework plays a part in the heist and every one of them serves a purpose within the story itself. Sure there are moments when some characters are more important than others due to story elements (consider Deadshot and Harley Quinn). But even then the whole thing works well and even the twists and turns make for what you want within the framework of the premise.
What’s more, the tension breakers and one liners within the story fit the characters and how it all played out. Sure there were moments when I could call the next moment but that was part of the fun. The story had you second guessing every move in a quest to keep up with what the main story was all about.
Now will a return to where we started this piece. The whole idea of a connected universe. See, Assault on Arkham was a tie to the fairly recent Batman video games. They gave us more storyline to the stories.
This is a similar move to many of the long story arches within comics in general. We are talking about universe expansive storylines that affect all of the comics within the different comic universes.
For the longest time, the live actions haven’t really been a part of such things. They all existed in their own separate universes. Well until Disney and Marvel began to build their cinematic universe. DC is trying to play catch up and missing the mark. For me, it was a hope that Suicide Squad might be a redeeming point in their attempt. It was getting closer, but it still fell short of the mark. When they figure out how to bring the magic of their animated stories into the realm of live action, then they might finally be able to build something we can get behind.
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