The Joker and Harley

…or How I learned to stop caring and hate the film, Suicide Squad.

I will admit that after reading a few reviews from questionable sources, I decided to see Suicide Squad and form my own opinion about the movie. A little background, I might be a huge fan of Batman (I totally am), specifically of The Joker and Harley Quinn. As a kid, being introduced to Harley Quinn was life-changing. She was everything I thought I was and wanted to be. Some kids want to be the Hero. I wanted to be the Villain.

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Harley and her other love, Poison Ivy

In watching Suicide Squad, one of the few things I can agree with was Paul Dini’s (One of Harley’s creators) statement that Margot Robbie, nailed the character. She did. Robbie did a fantastic job recreating the mixture of Harley’s adolescent manner and psychopathic tendencies with little effort. Harley is a character in which you never know which direction she will go because she is, quite obviously, insane. Jared Leto wasn’t bad either. There have been better Jokers, but I would not say he was awful. I do miss Harley’s accent though….

So what went wrong? Well, let’s start with the fact that for whatever reason, David Ayer and his team decided to focus on the Post-2011 version of The Joker and Harley. The public is being introduced to a new character (essentially), Harley and the rest of the Suicide Squad, which some fans of the comic will say, “Well, Xtine, that’s correct ’cause Harley was in The New 52 version of Suicide Squad (released in 2011)”. My problem isn’t with Suicide Squad, my problem is with the movie.

If you want to do a comic no one has heard of, maybe you should have focused on another version of it, like say, the earlier version since the majority of the movie centered on Deadshot anyway. Then maybe you wouldn’t have had the issues that you encountered when reproducing a truly tortuous and abusive relationship that is the Joker and Harley Quinn. That’s the movie everyone wanted to see but instead we only saw a watered down version of how their home life really is sprinkled throughout a boring, drawn out, lazy plot.

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Reading the comics, you’ll see the Joker, the love of Harley’s life, shoot her, punch her, leave her for dead, let her get captured and a slew of other terrible things that I feel like Jared Leto’s Joker would not do. Yes, the film Joker lets her get captured by Batman, but then he tries to save her on multiple other occasions. In reality, the comic Joker doesn’t even like her, let alone love her, so why would he even bother to make such moves to get her back?

I used to romanticize the idea of a Harley and Joker relationship just like most girls and boys are doing now, but then I realized that relationships should be healthy. The biggest problem with this film is that it seeks to change people’s ideas (or influence ideas) of how the Joker treats people. He has no room to love anyone. I feel that the message they are sending here is that this relationship can be sweet, loving and mutual when they aren’t on a murderous rampage but this just simply is not real. They are not Bonnie and Clyde, they are not Romeo and Juliet. She is dependent and unstable and he is a bona fide psychopath.

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Crazy Train

I’m sad for the DC universe’s other properties when these are the films that DCEU (DC Extended Universe) is putting out. I will agree that the movie had some interesting and eye-catching effects but it was also executive produced by Zack Snyder so what else can we expect? Its a shame that DCEU is focusing their efforts on the mass public who have no idea of the background of these characters and yet still releases films that seem to start in the middle of a trilogy. Most people get confused, some people like it, and DC fans get mad and go on long rants about why you shouldn’t see it. Origin films have a purpose, don’t try so hard to set records while ignoring your public.

P.S. I truly wonder if the main reason everyone saw it was because they wanted to see why so many people hated it.

 

 

 

 

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Feminism vs. Batman: The Killing Joke

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of seeing an animated feature length film of one of my favorite Batman graphic novels. Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke was a turning point in my love for Batman. I started becoming a fan girl of the comic book hero back in the 80s when the Tim Burton film was released but after reading The Killing Joke, I found a different love for the character. The Killing Joke showed Batman in a light that I think many people don’t want to see their favorite hero in.

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“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.”

He became more human, more damaged, more desperate in the story line and all of that is due to Alan Moore’s truly realistic and dark view of the comic book world. We’ve seen this type of sordid view of superheros from Moore in Watchmen or Captain Britain but here we see Batman essentially face himself through the Joker’s depraved acts and increasing insanity. Yes, his back has been broken before, yes his cohorts have died before; but here he is truly having to decide if he is as warped an individual as his all-time greatest nemesis.

I hope what I have just written will allow everyone to understand that I did not hate the animated film despite what is to follow.

The movie was somewhere around 30 minutes in when I sighed and decided that I was going to accept those first 30 minutes as not part of the film itself. My issues with it start with the addition of Paris Franz, an aspiring crime boss added to give Batgirl something to do. The character of Franz is so flat and brought nothing new to the story except flirt with Batgirl and treat her like a terribly toxic boyfriend who, instead of cheating, tries to kill her on several occasions. This character was also a placeholder for Batman to get jealous. Of course, the sexual tension increases, Batgirl and Batman engage in intercourse on a rooftop and, immediately after, Batgirl goes through the typical female crisis: “Why hasn’t he called? Where is this relationship going? What are we? Does he like me? What did I do wrong?” There is even a scene where she screams at him to say “It was just sex, I don’t care, you don’t care, no one cares,” or something to that nature.

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“Does this outfit make me look fat?”

I never really think of myself as a feminist but I was seconds from screaming at the screen in the half full theater. They turned a strong female superhero character like Batgirl, only a few scenes away from becoming a paraplegic, into a sappy, sobbing mess of a girl because she slept with her boss. I get it, she’s young and immature, but not every woman needs to cling to a strong male. I feel as if the screenwriters decided that women cannot be as strong as men, especially if that man is Batman. They decided that no woman can resist him, and even if they are partners, they must have intercourse.

I agree that the entire concocted opening to the film was there to give the audience an idea of how the events that unfold affect Batman in his core. He’s hard to read and allowing us to see him as a vulnerable human being gave us some insight into his personal feelings toward Batgirl. But what if this was Jason Todd? Would he have had to sleep with his Robin before he was murdered to give us some idea of how it affected him?

It is an unfortunate situation for Batgirl that she had to have that vagina. If she were only male, she would have just gotten over the whole Paris Franz thing, the whole “Batman doesn’t respect me as his equal” pouting, and she would probably still be Batgirl (not Oracle) with a fully functioning spinal column. I would’ve expected this treatment from an animated feature before but not in 2016 when a woman was just nominated a U.S. Presidential nominee for the first time in history.

Super Hero Hype

This past Sunday, David Ayer, director of the upcoming 2016 film Suicide Squad, tweeted a photo of the cast of misfits known as the Suicide Squad including Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and Deadshot. The film has slightly over a year before it’s released and a trailer hasn’t even been made yet however, with the release of this photo and the prior photos of Jared Leto transforming into the iconic character, The Joker, for the same film, it is clear that we are being hyped.

I used to enjoy the hype, the marketing, the press. In fact, I have always maintained that guerilla marketing is the most entertaining marketing and can be even more exciting than the actual film. It’s not always the film’s fault, the marketing team that creates the campaign is just far too talented for their own good. So when a film like Blair Witch or Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters gets the advertising but doesn’t deliver in the box office, the hype machine can force people to question if they like the film or the advertising.

It is great when it works (See The Dark Knight or Gone Girl), but for the great mass of film lovers, its hard to tell if it is going to be beneficial at all to one’s psyche to see the marketing. It’s similar to a friend recommending a film: they tell you it’s the best movie they’ve EVER seen, you have to watch it, if you don’t, you’re missing out. Then, you see the movie and it was good, but not the best movie EVER. So the next film your friend recommends, you take it with a grain of salt. Sure, if you are a casual film goer, it’s not a deal breaker to be disappointed but if you’re a “filmie”, it can ruin the fun.

I will be in the theater for both Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad (BvS is set to release a few months ahead of its counterpart Suicide Squad) but I will hopefully be there with little to no knowledge of the plot. Just so that I can have that moment when a film is brand new and nothing has tainted my love for it.