I have lots to say about SUICIDE SQUAD. I caught it yesterday, my first day back from a weeklong vacation to Aruba, and I’m still processing my thoughts. I will have everything organized in my head and ready to share with you when we record tomorrow’s LOS FANBOYS Podcast. For now, let’s talk about one thing that doesn’t require any extra analysis on my part:
They f**ked Batman up.
See, this film was written before BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE came out. And principal photography was completed before then, too. By now, we all know that there were plenty of reshoots after BATMAN V SUPERMAN premiered, as well as re-edits, followed by an entire creative shakeup over at Warner Bros following the reception that DAWN OF JUSTICE got. But something that ended up in SUICIDE SQUAD that doesn’t jive with the new trajectory for Ben Affleck’s Batman is the idea that he’s kind of a d**k.
While the official synopsis for JUSTICE LEAGUE reveals that the Batman of the Geoff Johns Era of the DCEU will be a far less cynical, more optimistic, and altruistic hero with a renewed faith in humanity following Superman’s death, SUICIDE SQUAD still contains the version of the character that doesn’t mind using- shall we say- “questionable” tactics.
That doesn’t erase the fact that Ayer wrote a scene for Batman in SUICIDE SQUAD that is downright vile.
[Editor’s Note: The original version of this next paragraph included phrasing that confused some, so I’ve clarified it a bit]
The scene in question is a flashback to how Will Smith’s Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot, is arrested. We’re told that Amanda Waller gave Batman enough intel so that he could create the kind of leverage that would lead to his surrender. We’re shown a scene where Batman ambushes Lawton in an alley as the rogue is walking around in street clothes with his daughter. Knowing that the innocent little girl is Lawton’s only Achilles heel, Batman stands there as she jumps in front of her father’s gun.
She pleads with her father not to shoot Batman, as The Dark Knight just… stands there, knowing he’s got Deadshot right where he wants him. And then, just according to plan, Lawton puts the gun down and surrenders to Batman and the authorities.
So let me get this straight:
Bruce Wayne, a man so tormented by what happened to him as a child when — in a similar Gotham City alley — a gunman murdered his parents that he becomes the brooding, angst-ridden vigilante Dark Knight of Gotham, suddenly decided it’s okay to ambush a man and his child, potentially putting her in harm’s way knowing Lawton is a deadly assassin who absolutely has a gun???
Look, I don’t care if this flashback takes place before Batman found his soul at the end of DAWN OF JUSTICE. The fact that the braintrust at WB/DC ever thought that this was a good way to depict Batman says a lot about why the Snyder Era needed to end. And the fact that it’s depicted rather matter-of-factly, like “Look how cunning Batman is!” makes it far worse. It means it’s not necessarily part of some redemption arc for Bruce Wayne. It’s simply, Check out how he used Lawton’s pressure point to bring him in. Isn’t a he a great Detective?
I’ll have much more to say on SUICIDE SQUAD tomorrow on LOS FANBOYS. Stay tuned.