Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Monday, August 08, 2016

Gods and Men

Went to see Suicide Squad, the latest DC comic epic.

No worse than I expected (though not, like the new Ghostbusters, a pleasant surprise),  but pretty crappy,  largely because the plot was offensively self-refuting.  To be fair, though, it’s very very hard to get any working plot in a universe that, like all multicharacter superhero universes, includes people with near-godlike powers (like Superman or, here, the Enchantress) and people with no special qualities except good pecs (like Batman or, here, Harley Quinn). In one scene the god is slicing aircraft carriers in half with his powerbeams, in the next he can’t cut through Deadshot’s armguards and he’s getting hit over the head with a baseball bat. The basic forces of the world have to shift from instant to instant to allow the plot to continue, making it very hard to make sense.  In more or less consistent universes, like Watchmen or Miller’s Dark Knight series, the more powerful creatures kill the less powerful, which can’t happen in superhero movies because you want all the characters still around next movie.

Anther thing that were wrong with Suicide squad (which really doesn’t call for this degree of close reading, but still)  was a misunderstanding of what sub-genre it was.
A superhero movie, yes, but also a caper movie – you assemble the team, each with a particular trick that will be needed in the caper, and then you have the caper where they each show off their thing. The first part was perhaps done, after a fashion, but the second wasn’t; they all fought the hordes of evil in much the same way, by shooting them, which hardly counts as a superpower…. perhaps only for Americans? Will Smith was the lead star in it as Deadshot, a no-miss marksman, but that’s still the most boring superpower ever, and if they had to have him then he should have been the only one to carry a gun…  though without it, Harley Quinn would be very underpowered, which is a difficulty.

And the gun motif was only emphasised again, not to say run into the ground, by having the group overseen by an army bloke, Colonel Flagg, who was supposed to be in there as the token good guy, and he did a shitload of shooting too.  What part of ‘superpower” doesn’t DC understand?

Oh, and at the end Deadshot is with his little daughter, helping her with his maths homework, and she cutely says “Hypotenuse?  That would be like when you’re on a tall building shooting at someone on the street?”
He says “Well, you have to account for wind, bullet weight, etc. etc….” 
A charming vignette, but a good father would have taken the next step and told her that no, a shot to the street wasn’t a hypotenuse because it wasn’t a straight line, being a (fairly flat) parabola. 

There is no force, however great,
Can stretch a cord, however fine,
Into a horizontal line
That shall be absolutely straight.

and the same goes for non-vertical projectiles subject to gravity. 

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