Suicide Squad vs. The Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad (2016) vs. The Suicide Squad (2021) 2-in-1 review
Released in 2016, Suicide Squad follows a team of dangerous criminals who are sent on a mission to save the world in order to reduce their sentence. They may be bad on the outside and have bombs in their heads should they try to run, but they are the world’s only hope… Five years later, The Suicide Squad is a sequel/reboot following a team of dangerous criminals who are sent on a mission to save the world in order to reduce their sentence. They may be bad on the outside and have bombs in their heads should they try to run, but they are the world’s only hope…
Today, instead of a straightforward review of the 2021 film (which we will cover shortly), we decided to pit the two films against each other. Why? Because when the original film came out, I initially liked it. Despite some drawbacks that became VERY prevalent on a second viewing, I thought the film was an overall entertaining experience. Could this be a chance to redeem myself? Well now we have something to directly compare it to! And you know what, I don’t think it’s that much better! So having stated something so controversial, let’s dive in! Oh SPOILERS by the way. It won’t be all spoilers, and I’ll mark the heavier stuff, but there will be some mild spoilers throughout.
As expressed previously, both stories, when you boil them down, follow a team of not-quite-so do-gooders who end up having to work together to save the world. In the 2016 film, that threat is an ancient evil known as Enchantress, who wants to use a blue sky beam to spread her evil faceless army to- do something I don’t really know. But it’s gonna be bad! The 2021 film sees the threat come from outer space in the form of Starro the Conqueror, a giant alien starfish who could end up taking over the world through though his faceless evil army controlled by thousands of tiny starfish. Looking at just the baseline though, the 2021 film is much bolder when it comes to the oddball story that Task Force X deserves. Easy point to the giant starfish over the blue sky beam. Suicide Squad: 0; The Suicide Squad: 1.
On Team Ayer, we have Deadshot, a skilled assassin motivated to prove to his daughter that he isn’t an awful person, Harley Quinn, the insane kinda not really ex-girlfriend of Batman villain The Joker, Killer Croc, a large man-eater with a heart, Katana, an arguably good person with very specific abilities surrounding the powers of her weapon thanks to her tragic backstory, Diablo, a mild-mannered man who can manipulate fire, Boomerang, a mouthy expert in, well, boomerangs, and their team leader Rick Flag, a soldier with a personal connection to the mission. We also have Amanda Waller, the temperamental head of the prison who gives the titular team their mission, The Joker, who just kinda shows up to make life harder for everyone trying to get Harley Quinn back, and a few others who either don’t matter or are there to die.
On Team Gunn, we have Bloodsport, a skilled assassin also motivated by his daughter, Harley Quinn, the insane definitely ex-girlfriend of Batman villain The Joker, King Shark, a large man-eater with a heart, Ratcatcher 2, an arguably good person with very specific abilities surrounding the powers of her weapon thanks to her tragic backstory, Polka-Dot Man, a mild-mannered man who can manipulate projectile polka-dots, Peacemaker, a mouthy expert in anything that can be used as a weapon, and their team leader Rick Flag, a soldier with a personal connection to the mission. We also have Amanda Waller again, the even more temperamental head of the prison who gives the titular team their mission, Thinker, who is less of a hero and more the guy responsible for helping cause a giant starfish to destroy the world, and a few others who either don’t matter or are there to die.
So, like the same cast… See this is why I’m writing this, because as lousy as the first film is, it obviously had the right formula; it just made it wrong. That said, the 2021 film didn’t try to sell the bond between the characters as something more than it was. Sure characters like Ratcatcher 2 and King Shark have a surprisingly sincere bond, but it never feels forces. The original film ends with Diablo pulling out the word ‘family’ after working with these guys for maybe a day? Yeah I don’t think so. Sure the second film has an edge by featuring already established characters too, which means we have more of an emotional connection to them. But that made some of the bold (and often upsetting) choices even more worthy of the point. Suicide Squad: 0; The Suicide Squad: 2.
Now we find the 2016 film with the advantage, as several of the cast members from this film carry over into the 2021, including Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, and about three minutes of Jai Courtney, all of whom do a great job in both. Kinnaman does really shine in the sequel, but that same sequel also throws away Jai Courtney’s career best performance to be surprising. So we’ll call that a tie there. The supporting performance of Jared Leto is easily the standout form the 2016 film, and not in a good way. He manages to take the very minor screentime he has and make the audience question every choice he makes in it. I don’t know if its the editing or the method acting, but it didn’t work.
(Rest of the cast is fine aside from the hula dancing… But that’s more direction.) Of course the 2016 film also cements Margo Robbie as the arguably quintessential Harley Quinn, as she was the performance stuck so well she got her own movie. And of course there’s Will Smith, who brings his A-game to a performance to a film that can’t live up to the emotional level of his performance. Seriously, he gives 100%, and I applaud him for selling a surprising amount of the scenes he is in.
Meanwhile, Idris Elba shows that he can fit in with any cast with ease while also giving a top notch performance. Of course the writing helps, but his chemistry with his cast is second to no other actor from these films. John Cena is perfect for Peacemaker, Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2 ends up delivering a surprisingly strong performance for a character who gets nothing to do for the first half of the film, and David Dastmalchian manages to make a guy who shoots polka-dots the most likable character in the movie. Who would have guessed? Overall though, while the quality of performances is overall better in the sequel, I just can’t ignore the fact that some of the performances in the 2016 film were so good, they kept the 2021 film from being a direct remake. This point mainly goes to Margot Robbie… Suicide Squad: 1; The Suicide Squad: 2.
Now when it comes to the rest, I think quickly firing through them would be the best thing. So let’s try this out and see how it goes!
Both scores feel fairly average with a few standout pieces. Both Steven Price and John Murphy manage to make the best moments in the films even better, while the rest of their scores are honestly a little forgettable. The albums are both very energetic and fitting, but the 2021 film showed WAY more class. Suicide Squad: 1; The Suicide Squad: 3.
I mean, the 2016 film has some, and the 2021 film doesn’t. Maybe too much color? Well at least its visually stimilating instead of, oh how to I put this? Dull. Suicide Squad: 2; The Suicide Squad: 3.
BAHAHAHAHAHA! I mean the 2021 film doesn’t carry the title of one of the worst cut films of all time. Soooo….. Suicide Squad: 2; The Suicide Squad: 5. (Point for the action.)
Pacing and Tone:
While I don’t think either film is paced as well as it could be, the 2021 film does feel more fluid. The 2016 film simply rushes through and almost never stops to breath. That said, that is really the fault of the quick editing, not the writing. And since I gave the 2021 film two points, let’s talk tone…
I do really appreciate James Gunn’s ability to bring out dark humor in a film that, well, deserves it. He is benefited by an R rating of course, but I did laugh alot in the second film. That said, his shocking and gory opening just for the sake did not sit well with me. First, he advertises these ‘surprising’ moments a mile away. Granted the 2016 film didn’t have any surprising moments, but it’s not like the 2021 film was that shocking either… Character contributes all they can, gets very excited, long take of them- yeah they are dead. Oh look, they died.
Want to know what I really missed? The neon character intros. Honestly. Sure it’s a bit annoying, but its better than nothing. We do get to know the characters more in the second one, but it’s because they stop and explain all their tragic backstories to each other. I never bought that connection. So this isn’t fair, but this is a tie. I know I should have split these up into like ‘Tone’ and ‘Setup’ or something, but it’s 3AM and I think I’m finally tired.
Overall, the new one is better, but I think it builds off the things the 2016 film did well enough to warrant giving that film some credit. And honestly, I don’t really care for either of these movies that much! So yeah, with a score of 5 to 2, The Suicide Squad is a better film. But I think there was room for improvement… Also the title. No wonder this film is bombing, it’s not different enough! Anyway that’s basically my review of the new Suicide Squad while I continue to make a majority of the people reading this roll their eyes because I refuse to hate the 2016 film.
But don’t let me have all the fun, why don’t you let us know below which film you think is better and what each did better than the other! And hey if you liked this 2-in-1 style of review and you want to read more like it, let us know below what we should talk about next! Not a fan? Well we have a shorter review on The Suicide Squad that I will link below! Either way, thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince