Monday, July 10, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 28-30

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Suicide Squad, Scene 28 (Harley in the elevator), Scene 29 (Ostrander office building fight), and Scene 30 (Harley's flashback acid bath).

  • Enchantress dancing (revisited)
  • Harley on the elevator
  • Bruce Timm comments on Harley unpredictability
  • Harley hotpants
  • Critique of editing for the office fight
  • El Diablo finally unleashes
  • Harley and Joker acid bath

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @NBego

Bruce Timm -
Reedited Harley and Joker scene -
50 Things Good About BvS -
Welcome, fans of the Justice League Universe. My name is Sam. In this podcast, we analyze scene-by-scene the Warner Brothers films that are part of the Justice League Universe, often referred to as the DCEU. In this episode, we cover Scenes 28, 29, and 30 from Suicide Squad. This includes the squad entering the Ostrander building and Harley taking the elevator, the fight scene in the upper floors of the building, and then Harley’s flashback acid bath. This Suicide Squad analysis was written by myself, Alessandro Maniscalco who is @raveryn on twitter, and Nick Begovich who is @NBego.
Before getting into those next scenes, we want to mention a little bit of listener feedback from our last Suicide Squad episode. In that last episode, I mentioned a slight distaste for the Enchantress dancing and I said that it was a bit silly because it’s not really doing anything specific as far as we can tell. It’s unnecessary and kind of odd. But Armando Batista on YouTube made a good point. He said “Witches are often depicted dancing in front of bonfires when conjuring spells. Probably why they made Enchantress dance.” So Armando is probably correct on this point, but I’ll still say that is was a bit distracting to me, and she dances and sways to and fro basically all the time, which I just didn’t really like visually. But we did want to point out that it is a valid take on her witch-based character background.
The other quick thing was about Rick Flag’s line at the end about “Miller Time” -- we thought he was saying it about the team moving forward toward the building, but looking more closely at the context and delivery of the line, we realized that we were probably wrong and our listener Daniel, who is @ddbarham on Twitter, was probably right. It’s likely that Flag wasn’t saying “Miller Time” with regard to pushing forward into the building, he was saying it would be “Miller Time” once they completed the mission and escaped with the high-value target. So that actually does make more sense as a time to relax and have a beer like at the end of a long workday, though it’s still a bit of a dated reference, in my opinion, originating in a 1970s ad campaign for Miller High Life, but I guess I’m even a bit wrong on that because the MillerCoors company has revived the tagline more recently. So maybe it does fit the context, maybe it’s not too dated, but it still stood out to us a bit. Maybe just because it’s a corporate tagline, so it’s like product placement in the dialogue.
Anyway, let’s go into Scene 28 which starts with Deadshot just striding forward and breaking open the glass door into the Ostrander Federal Building. This might seem a bit out of character for Deadshot who at the start was pretty nonchalant about the mission and who actually said he doesn’t “save people.” And now, here he is leading the way into the building to save the HVT1 which he doesn’t even know who it is. But this change in demeanor makes a lot of sense when you think about what we just saw this character going through in the last few minutes. He just realized that the threat is something other-worldly and that regular people are getting caught up in this monster mess. He also just stepped up; instead of taking out Flag, he rose to the occasion and made sure Alpha team didn’t meet the same fate as Bravo team. So we talked about that being Deadshot assuming a leadership role, and now that leadership stance continues here. It also showed that Deadshot is very capable of handling himself with Eyes of the Adversary, so it might make him overconfident going into the next spot. And the other main thing is that Deadshot just saw the storefront and the girl’s winter outfit that reminded him of his daughter. Therefore he intensely wants this mission to succeed so he can have his sentence waived and he can be reunited with his daughter. And the freshness of just being reminded of his daughter probably makes him a bit impulsive, but that’s understandable too.
So even though it’s small, we like this moment of Deadshot immediately going forward because it gives unspoken insight into his mentality at the moment. And it also allows the tension to continue between Flag and Deadshot. Flag at first tries to tell him to fall back but Deadshot doesn’t listen, so Flag sarcastically says to him, “Mind if we tag along.” Deadshot’s move is not only him asserting leadership, it is also him ignoring Flag’s leadership.  Flag acknowledges this disobedience but cedes some ground to Deadshot. He recognizes Deadshot’s superior skills in facing this threat, has slackened his negative view of him, and wisely decides it best not to turn it into a confrontation.
They walk in the front door and into the main lobby and surprisingly there isn’t any immediate threat, and no threat on the security cameras either. So Captain Boomerang offers three comments on the situation. He says that they’ve had a “spot o’ luck,” that it’s a “walk in the park,” and that it’s going to be “Easy peasy.” I think these remarks fit really well with the personality of Boomerang that they’ve established so far, and you might say that it was overkill in the dialogue to have him make three comments instead of just one about how it looks like it might be easier than they thought. But I think the three comments was a great call by Ayer when he wrote it and Courtney when he performed it, because Boomerang is always supposed to be obnoxious and it’s only mildly obnoxious to make one remark about things being easy when everyone else knows they’re not out of danger yet --- but it is extremely obnoxious to make three such comments. The redundancy is what really brings it home, for me.
And by the way, I’m curious if I’m the only one who has been hearing the phrase “easy peasy” all the time recently. I’ve noticed it in several movies and TV shows and with adults at work and with kids at schools. Of course I knew about the phrase before, but in terms of what I’ve personally noticed, it seems to be much more commonly used now. Word origin websites seem to think that it started with British children in the 1960s or 1970s, starting as easy peasy just as a fun rhyming repetition, then it expanded to “easy peasy lemon squeezy” in the UK and the United States and was even used in advertisements for a brand of Lemon Sqezy (sic) dish soap. It also caught on in Australia, where Boomerang is from, and a common variation there was “easy peasy japanese.”
Anyway, the Boomerang personality shines through here and it leads to some interaction amongst squad members. Deadshot says to him, “Don’t make me shoot you.” They are able to see the security cameras and it shows no visible Eyes of the Adversary. But this is misleading, of course, and as savvy audience members, as soon as Boomerang acted like things were going to be fine, we knew to expect another showdown with the hostiles. And even Boomerang himself might have known danger was still ahead because he gives a sort of a laugh at himself and at Deadshot giving him a hard time. Also, the deception of the security cameras and the Eyes hiding before they pounce also touches on the notion that the Eyes can be deceiving and the mystical nature of deception in this film such as Enchantresses visions during the final confrontation.

Harley on the Elevator (1:01:15)

That brings us to the main part of Scene 28 which is Harley’s elevator ride up to the higher floors. She smiles and waves as she, like Deadshot coming into the building, just does the obvious and direct thing without waiting for approval. Also, by waving and heading up toward the target, on mission, this probably made sure that Flag wasn’t going to think she was escaping, so he didn’t use the nanite explosive.

This elevator bit is not only a fitting moment for the Harley Quinn character, but it shows the value of the premise of the movie – having a team of villains instead of a team of heroes, so even though it seemed like things were going to be “easy peasy” because of no Eyes of the Adversary, it can also be the squad itself that causes problems. In other words, even though there are no hostiles in the lobby, there are people like Harley who can cause trouble all by herself without any help. As David Ayer said about writing the movie, it is more fun working with these characters because they’re more unpredictable than heroes and they don’t have to have the same moral center. And Harley in particular being one of the unpredictable characters is very fitting. Speaking about the core of the Harley Quinn character, Bruce Timm recently said in a DC All Access interview focused on the upcoming Batman & Harley Quinn animated movie that the two main things about Harley are that she has to be unpredictable and she has to be funny. So this elevator moment, the recent window smash moment, and really the movie overall did a great job of living up to this spirit of the character. And it’s cool that the unpredictability of Harley is actually what ends up defeating Enchantress at the end.

Bruce Timm, by the way, is one of the co-creators along with Paul Dini of the Harley Quinn character. She was created for Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 and Dini and Timm also collaborated on the “Mad Love” comic book story which will come up later in the episode when we’re talking about Harley’s acid bath with the Joker.

And speaking of the Joker, now that Harley has a moment to herself in the elevator, she again pulls out her phone and she has a message from the Joker that says, “I am close be ready.” This is a quick reminder to the audience about the B-plot, which is Joker coming to try to reclaim Harley, which will of course climax in a few minutes at the top of this building. It’s also a good reminder of Harley’s personal motivation, just like we had the reminder about Deadshot’s daughter in the last scene. As for the Joker, he is largely an unpredictable character, like Harley, but the reasons for their unpredictability might be slightly different, and this Joker is a bit different than other incarnations. Trent Osborne, one of our listeners from YouTube, says that maybe this Joker is unpredictable not because he’s an anarchist but because of his narcissism. Here’s some thoughts from Trent. (quote) “When one examines Leto's Joker, his mannerisms, his design and how he acts all reveal a extreme case of narcissism. Before torturing Harley, Joker says you helped me by erasing my mind, by purging me of the perfect memories I have left. Perfect -- that word says a lot right there. The Joker didn't torture Harley as payback for his treatment, he tortured her because he was insulted that anyone thought there was something wrong with him. Joker mentions being an ideal, however he immediately afterward says he's executes things to his will, an ideal doesn't work like that -- an ideal isn't about one person, it's about what it stands for, Joker is calling himself an ideal to make himself bigger, to stroke his ego. Joker is shown to revel in dominating others; he is unpredictable but he does this deliberately to show his power over others, he's basically saying I can do whatever I want with you. Leto's Joker is very different -- he doesn't do things for the sake of it, he does everything to stroke his ego.” (end quote) And thanks, Trent.

So going forward in the scene, as Harley’s looking at the message, she has a smile on her face which, as an actor, sets her up for a surprised reaction in contrast to the smile as an Eye of the Adversary drops down from the top of the elevator. Harley makes quick work of it, using her pistol to blow off its head, and then after we see its brain bits scattered about, she cutely adjusts her hair -- a humorous if somewhat morbid juxtaposition. Then she slowly looks up and out the glass side of the elevator and another Eye crashes in. This time she uses her bat. She tussles with it in tight quarters for a moment and their arms kind of get tangled, then Harley uses her gymnastic skills, which are featured consistently throughout the movie. In this case, she flips up back to back with the Eye and walks her feet up and around the elevator so that she lands on the other side of it and can finish it off with some bat strokes, which also shows why the song was chosen for this particular moment -- it’s “Come Baby Come” by K7 from 1993 and it goes, “batter batter swing” right as Harley is finishing off the Eye of the Adversary. And it concludes again with Harley’s hair, as she blows some strands out of her face.

And by the way, I’m pretty sure I remember hearing that this was Margot Robbie doing her own stunts in this elevator and in high heels. Pretty impressive and the walking flip made it one of the more memorable bits of action in the film. It’s also a great mix of her femininity and her savagery, making this a uniquely Harley Quinn type of moment.

The elevator then dings and the doors open -- I’m not sure how many floors up. It seemed like at least 8 or 10 went by in the background, but it couldn’t have been that many, because the whole rest of the team is already up there waiting for her. When I saw the movie in theaters, this definitely threw me off because I was expecting the elevator to get there well ahead of the people on foot and so I was expecting Harley to go off and do a bit more on her own. But no, the team is already up there before the elevator even gets there. So they must have ran at a pretty good pace, and back at the start when she was first taking off, it did quickly show everyone else start to run up the stairs, so that must be what happened. Office elevators, especially glass-faced ones, are notorious for being pretty slow.

When the doors open we see Katana ready to attack and Flag with his gun pointed as if to contain a rabid and disobedient Harley.  But she shrugs them off, “Hi guys” as if she did nothing wrong. She struts past them with her short shorts, which once again gives us Harley’s femininity following a show of brutality. This duality reflects her bipolar nature, which is also symbolized by the split color scheme of her costume, something also prominently featured in the Two-Face character, and something which was more evident in her original costume which featured a flip in colors at the upper abdomen. Harley further suggests she did nothing wrong by saying “Come on. Let’s go.”  This also reaffirms and reassures the group that she did not attempt to escape. She’s still with them.

By the way, with regard to the hotpants, this moment with Harley walking past was actually edited in one of the TV spots to be more family friendly by making the shorts look a bit longer. Some people have criticized the hotpants for being too much in terms of the sexualization of Harley, and even Margot Robbie said she’d like to not wear the hot pants in the sequel, but I personally tend to interpret moments like these where Harley is kind of flaunting her stuff as Harley knowing exactly what she’s doing, and kind of manipulating the men by controlling their gaze and allowing her to walk right over them, or walk past them, as the case may be here. So I take it as Harley using her powers, so to speak, rather than the filmmakers using Harley as a sexualized object -- but probably it’s a little bit of both.

Scene 29: Building Fight (1:02:35)

After Croc’s growl, we cut into Scene 29. It shows an empty office level of the building. As the team starts to move through the empty office space, we cut back to Waller’s headquarters as a woman is reporting to her that the motion detectors are going off on the secure floors. So the secure floors aren’t so secure after all. Waller then goes over to the comm and tells Flag, in an earnest intense voice, “They’re all around you.” Now, I have to criticize this whole sequence leading up to the office fight. Instead of showing us the motion detectors going off, perhaps like red body heat signatures converging around the team, they just have an unnamed staffer tell us that the detectors are going off. And then instead of seeing the team start to get an eerie sensation that they’re not alone, we just get the team being told that they’re all around you. But it’s just being said… we haven’t seen or felt any of the impending danger. Then Deadshot and Flag both say that they don’t like this situation. But that doesn’t help to build the tension -- it’s just like stating the obvious. Of course you don’t like it, Waller just said they’re all around you.

Scene 29 also suffers from a bit of jumbled momentum from the previous scene. In the last scene, we saw that everything was clear on the security cameras in the lobby. So that could’ve set up a sort of carefree or relaxed attitude amongst the team as they think they’ve escaped into the building from all the dangers that were outside. Then you could have that relaxed attitude gradually give way to the approach of the Eyes of the Adversary in the ceilings and walls or whatever. There would be a real chance to build some tension before it released into the office fight scene. But instead, we went from the all-clear of the security footage to Harley in the elevator where she had to take out two Eyes of the Adversary. So it has already been revealed that there are Eyes in the building and they can drop in from anywhere. So the team should already be back on alert as soon as the elevator bit happens. They don’t need Waller to tell them to be back on extreme caution.

So they should’ve shown us the motion detectors or the approach of the Eyes, or at least showed us the squad starting to sense that danger was around them. And I also think it didn’t quite work, after Waller gives them the warning, to then have Deadshot and Harley have some funny banter about Deadshot putting on his mask and Deadshot threatening to knock her out -- “I do not care that you’re a girl.” Them joking when it should be pretty tense, and the close-ups on them joking instead of having wider shots where the audience can try to be on the lookout for the danger that’s surrounding them, I thought was just the wrong call in my personal opinion. It was a missed opportunity to create more tension, kind of like we talked about with the first helicopter crash back in Scene 22.

But anyway, about Deadshot putting on the mask, we know from the scene where they got their costumes back that this means Deadshot is preparing to kill, because when he puts it on, people die. But Harley teases him, kind of suggesting that maybe Deadshot is afraid. But Deadshot snaps right back at her, and the line about knocking her out is kind of ironic because it aligns Deadshot with Batman, who actually did knock her out even though she’s a girl.

As in the elevator, the Eyes fall from above, and because this is a common tactic, it kind of suggests the idea that the eyes are used to “oversee” things, and they are coming from above, created and sent by Enchantress, so maybe she is using them to watch “over” Flag and the squad in an omniscient, godly manner. Making Waller and Enchantress similar in that respect.

Okay, the fight scene gets underway and the filmmakers do a good job, like they did before on the street, with giving at least a bit of a moment for each of the squad members. Captain Boomerang puts up more of a fight than previously. And each member utilizes their unique skills: Harley’s acrobatics, Deadshot’s signature gun, Killer Croc’s clawed hands, Katana’s swordplay, Captain Boomerang’s boomerangs. And Boomerang does get stabbed so for a moment we think he might be hurt. But he sits up and then after a quick cut back to the other action we see Boomerang pull out the knife, having been saved by a wad of money he was attempting to steal. Some people have criticized this because they felt it should’ve been a payoff with the Pinky unicorn instead of the wad of cash, but it basically works for the character either way. And it also shows the difference in tone between this movie and the other DCEU movies. Usually in the other movies there wouldn’t be a straight-up funny bit right in the middle of an active fight scene. But with these characters, it’s kind of understandable.

Harley has another great, acrobatic fight sequence swinging around an Eye and then leaning him back to shoot with her pistol. Then the Eyes start grabbing Flag again and Deadshot points it out to the rest of the team -- again, Deadshot assuming a de facto leadership position. And Deadshot may have been keeping an eye on Flag knowing that if something happens to him they’re all dead.  But once again we see the Eyes aren’t trying to kill Flag but rather capture him.  On Deadshot’s orders, the squad surrounds Flag as a human shield, very much in the vein of a “suicide squad”.

Importantly, we see a shot of El Diablo witnessing the carnage. The shot is framed so that it it gives us a sense of build up with El Diablo looking concerned and the camera zooming in to build tension. This sets up the next part of the scene where Diablo is finally driven to act.

Flag wants to fight but as he’s surrounded by the squad, Deadshot says the same thing he said to Harley on the street. “You die, we die.” It’s a nice line, because basically what Deadshot is saying is that they’re protecting Flag out of self interest -- they are keeping Flag alive so that they themselves stay alive. But it has kind of the feel of a Three Musketeers slogan, one for all and all for one. It could also be construed as, we’re willing to go down with you in this fight, which is a much more noble sentiment even though that’s not actually where they are yet in their relationship. But they do save Flag again, so they are going together to do something as a team and it might soften Flag up a bit in his feelings toward them, now that they’ve saved him a couple times.

By the way, the fact that Enchantress wants the Eyes to bring Flag back to her implies that she probably still has a soft spot for the guy. If so, that would mean she still has a human connection and thus, by the theme of the movie that we’ve stated before about people with human connections being redeemable, that would mean that even Enchantress is redeemable. But Enchantress being redeemable conflicts with the overall idea that the squad members are bad but Enchantress is beyond that -- she’s evil. Even though this seems like it might be a flaw for the theme of human connection and redemption, we don’t think it necessarily is, because we think it’s June Moon who has the connection to Flag, not Enchantress, and thus the theme is resolved intact at the end when June Moon is saved from Enchantress. June Moon is the one who’s still redeemable and recoverable, which is what happens. And so we can still go ahead and view Enchantress as straight-up evil.

Next, they step out of the room and onto a sort of inner balcony and then get confronted with a bunch of gunfire from new Eyes of the Adversary. Deadshot, yet again doing what a leader needs to do, pushes Diablo up against the wall. Deadshot takes off his mask and asks him, “Where you been, homey?” Deadshot is also the one who stood up for Diablo back at the beginning, so he is probably the one best positioned to push him now. And the fact is, because El Diablo has been absent in the fighting, the rest have all had to fight harder than they would have needed to if El Diablo had been participating. Diablo of course is afraid of unleashing his power and hurting people, but we won’t know the full details of why until the bar scene. For now we simply think he doesn’t want to be a part of the squad and doesn’t want to fight.

Chato says it’s not his fight. But Floyd gets right in his face and says, “You don’t stand for shit, you ain’t about shit.” This idea that you have to take a stand if you want your life to have meaning or you want to have meaningful connections with others is actually kind of a profound idea to come from an assassin -- a bad guy who has been accused of just being a hitman who takes credit cards. In essence, if you don’t assert yourself for a cause or belief, then you’re life has no meaning. Diablo has been thinking that he’ll find new meaning by withdrawing, but Deadshot is challenging that belief and telling him that he can only have meaning not by withdrawing but by choosing a side and stepping forward.

Deadshot also riles him up. After Diablo says, “Don’t touch me,” Deadshot just goes ahead and touches him more to get a rise of anger out of him. El Diablo then releases hellfire from his hands at the Eyes of the Adversary, quickly disposing of them. Now the shot selection and editing here I liked a lot better than the earlier part. Diablo pushes Deadshot aside and steps forward, and we start on a close up of his face as the fire starts to emanate from his hands. Then we get a lot of coverage from different angles as we see the fire blasts surging forward, with extreme heat emanating from it. We see Harley and Deadshot’s reaction to the immense power, and then we go back to a close-up of Diablo after it’s done, which is very fitting and a nice bookend to the moment. In the aftermath, Floyd quickly explains that he was merely using psychology to bring him to the point of acting, a motivational speech if you will, referencing his earlier comment about Coach Phil Jackson as the gold standard of motivation.

Harley gives El Diablo a big kiss and says “I knew you’d come through.”  So she expected him to eventually use his powers to help them.  But this can also be interpreted as the “real” El Diablo coming to the surface after being hidden away inside Chato. It’s also fitting that Harley and Deadshot, and now together with Diablo, have been the most important characters in Scenes 28 and 29 because they are also going to be the three most important characters in the final fight, too.

Harley Flashback: Acid Bath (1:05:30)

Alright, for our final scene this episode we’re going to go into the stairwell. It’s a tall building and there are lots of floors visible with the spiralling stairs. After a while, Harley pauses against the railing and says, “I gotta work on my cardio.” This is not only a realistic line but is kind of clever because cardio refers to the heart, and Harley is about to have a flashback to matters of the heart, so to speak. There’s also a spatial connection here with the flashback, because she is looking down and being reminded of standing on the edge at Ace Chemicals. And there’s a juxtaposition of the squad rising up the stairway as she remembers falling down, both physically and psychologically.

As Harley looks down, the camera pulls away from her and then it cuts to a camera moving similarly down but it’s toward several vats of chemicals. Then we cut back up and see that this is a flashback because she’s Harleen Quinzel and the Joker is standing just behind her. This is some time after she helped him escape from Arkham and after he tortured her, probably pretty soon afterward, I would guess.

The Joker says,  “Question: Would you die for me?” They look at each other intensely and Harleen says, “Yes.” But Joker immediately continues, “That’s too easy. Would you live for me?” And he pauses in the middle of the second question to give the audience a chance to anticipate what he’s going to say, and the pause also makes this line stand out as yet another of the many instant classic, very quotable lines from the Joker in this movie. And in these lines he does make a good point. We often just think of dying for someone as the ultimate symbol of love and dedication, but the Joker is kind of right that dying is easy. To die is a single act and after that you don’t feel any more pain and you no longer have responsibilities in the world. To live for someone or for a purpose is a continual set of actions that go on and on and it can be trying and challenging. So dedicating your life in that way is, from a certain point of view, more difficult and definitely more of an extended commitment than dying for a cause. Now of course we do not mean to take anything away from people who have given their lives for someone else. That is an amazing sacrifice and an awesome act of courage. In reality, these people are true heroes. And even within the Justice League Universe, we hold Superman’s sacrifice and later in this movie Diablo’s sacrifice in very high regard. But we can still see a bit of where the Joker is coming from. And it connects with Floyd’s words to Chato in the previous scene where he challenged Chato to stand for something. The Joker here is asking Harleen to dedicate herself to him, and she will stand for him.

On a more surface level, he also happens to be sort of toying with Dr. Quinzell. He might just be playing around to see if she’ll pledge everything to him -- once she pledges one thing, he just wants to see if she’ll pledge even more to him too. But we’ll talk more about that toying in a second.

After Harleen says yes to the question of living for him, he tells her not to make this oath thoughtlessly. He covers her mouth with his hand, again using the smiley tattoo. Then he says, “Desire becomes surrender, surrender becomes power.” He knows she desires him and so now he wants to turn that desire into her surrender, and he’s saying that her surrender will actually lead to more power. Of course it would lead to his power because he would’ve shown his complete power over her, but he’s trying to entice her by saying that it would be her power too to join him in complete surrender. The Joker’s transitive property here is also phrased generally so it can refer to the broad idea of surrendering yourself to that which you desire -- giving into temptation, basically. That can feel very empowering because you can shed all your doubts and restraints and sort of give in to your baser instincts. Somebody like that is very powerful and can be very scary because the social order depends on people not surrendering to their worst instincts, and that’s part of what make the Joker and Harley such compelling characters and villains here and in the comics and animated shows.

The Joker concludes by asking Harleen, “Do you want this?” And she says, “I do.” So this is like their deranged wedding vows. And like before, the Joker is enjoying having her in the palm of his hand, and even though she has already said she’d die for him and live for him and she does want to surrender, he pushes one step further and asks her to “say it.” “Pretty pretty pretty pretty.” And she says, “Please.” And the whispering repetition of “pretty” not only ties into the common phrase “pretty please” but it’s also a subtle remark on Harleen’s beauty and femininity that we’ve already been talking about as part of the dichotomy of the character -- she is pretty but she’s also deranged in her affection for the Joker and her desire to join him.

With their vows complete, Harley surrenders herself by raising her arms and falling backwards into the ACE Chemicals vat. There’s a bit of a continuity error as she seems to be falling in head first but then she splashes in more on her back. But that’s a minor detail. The main thing is about their relationship here and why Harleen would do this. There is no real explanation given, but presumably this is a gesture of becoming like, or one with, the Joker, who became the Joker in this same way. And by the way, if you’re curious about the origin of Harley Quinn, you should definitely check out the comic book “Batman Adventures: Mad Love” by Dini and Timm. It’s a quick read and it’s really good -- it won an Eisner and a Harvey award. Some similarities between that story and the movie are that she is a psychologist who is treating the Joker at Arkham and she does then fall in love with him and help him escape. But there are also some differences. The costume is obviously different, with it being much more explicitly a jester costume in the comic, but the two-tone colors are incorporated into both. The Mad Love comic also has a slightly different relationship between the Joker and Harley -- in the comic, Harley madly loves the Joker but he is basically straight-up abusive to her and it’s not clear at all that he loves her back. In the movie, especially the theatrical cut, they downplayed the abusiveness and overall they made the love affair more mutual between the two. The Joker clearly wants Harley back by his side and feels lost without her. Although it’s not totally clear whether this is some form of deranged love or maybe an addiction or just a power trip where he simply has to have what he wants and he’s obsessed about it as a sort of mental illness.

So even though the movie gives a lot of evidence that the Joker has at least some sort of love and affection for Harley, we can see that it didn’t start out that way. The Joker here in the movie seems to have started out similar to the comic, where he is just using Harley and manipulating her based on her love for him. He used her to get out of Arkham and now he is just toying with her as a plaything. We think that was his original intention -- just to use her and play with her and then discard her -- and our main reason for this is right here in Scene 30 and the way that the Joker reacts to Harley’s fall into the acid. He simply looks on for a moment, emotionless, and then he turns to walk away. We interpret this as meaning that the Joker was just playing with her and then was going to discard her because she’d already served her purpose -- getting him out of Arkham. But then, as he’s walking away, he gets frustrated because he realizes that he has actually fallen in love with her too. His efforts to ensnare Harley have actually had an impact on himself too -- maybe he’s not the purely unemotional, disconnected psychopath that he likes to think of himself as.

So he turns around, pulls off his jacket, and dives into the chemicals after her. I love the body posture that Jared Leto had as he dives down -- the kind of cocked shoulders, spindly body, and weirdly splayed arms really makes it more of an iconic moment, for me. It’s also cool that they had scenes in this movie both of the Joker and the Batman diving in to save Harley Quinn. And they both resulted in mouth-to-mouth moments. In this case, though, the mouth-to-mouth leads to a creepy full on kiss between the Joker and Harley as they’re in the chemicals that turned their skin white, and their swirling amidst the dye from their clothing -- blue from her and red from him -- and those swirling colors will come together to make the Harley Quinn design.

By the way, an Ace Chemicals building can be seen in the Gotham skyline in Batman v Superman. And also Nick DiNizio on YouTube suspected that this scene was originally scored by the composer Stephen Price, and so Nick reedited the scene using Price’s track, “Joker and Harley,” and it works out really well. I’ll put a link to that video in the show notes.

Alright, to close out the chemical wedding acid bath the camera, just like with the knife circle back in scene 13, is shooting down from straight above the Joker. It twists just like the swirling colors and we get another of the Joker laughs as things fade back to the present, and Harley is startled out of her memory by Deadshot. She pulls her pistol and points it right at his head. Although Deadshot tells her to relax and that it’s just him, she keeps her gun on him as she asks if he’s ever been in love. Deadshot says, “Nah, never.” She calls bullshit. But he says, “You don’t kill as many people as I’ve killed and still sleep like a kitten if you feel sh** like love.” This answer seems to reassure her because she lowers the pistol; maybe she’s reassured because he’s saying that he’s still a bad guy, or maybe she just needed a moment to calm down.

On Deadshot’s side of things, he’s probably lying. He clearly loves his daughter. And that might mean that he actually doesn’t sleep like a kitten -- he might have rough nights where he’s feeling guilty about what he’s doing or he’s worried about what his daughter thinks of him, or that he’ll lose his daughter if his rough life eventually catches up to him, which it now has.

Harley calls him “another textbook sociopath,” but that comment is based on his explicit answer about not having any love. She knows, probably like we do, that Floyd does have love, and she has love too. So this moment brings them even another step closer together, even though it’s all kind of beneath the surface. And it connects to the main theme we’ve talked about before of love being a basis for human connection. And as we’ll see at the end of the movie, Harley’s pistol will end up shifting from hate to love. So when we get to that moment, we’ll keep Scene 30 in mind when she was explicitly talking about love.

End of Episode

That is our analysis of Scenes 28, 29, and 30 of Suicide Squad. I think we’re going to do another episode on Suicide Squad before continuing on with our Wonder Woman analysis. And if you’re looking to reminisce about Batman v Superman, I’m going to post a link to the Men Are Still Good blog by one of our listeners. It has a nice entry about 50 things that BvS got right. It’s a quick read but a good read, and it even caught a few details that we missed in our full analysis.

And we also give shout outs to the Suicide Squadcast and Man of Steel Answers -- two other podcasts that we highly recommend. And thanks to all of you for listening.

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