Friday, August 4, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 44-45

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast closes out our analysis of Suicide Squad, written and directed by David Ayer. It includes Rick Flag saving June Moon and the denouement with the squad back at Belle Reve.

  • Rick Flag and June Moon are reunited
  • Waller is still alive and negotiates with the squad
  • Zoe and Floyd love each other
  • Things have changed at Belle Reve
  • The Joker breaks in to break Harley out
  • Amanda Waller and Bruce Wayne compete in league formation

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @NBego

Welcome, fans of the Justice League Universe. My name is Sam. In this podcast, we go scene-by-scene through the Warner Brothers films that are part of the DCEU. In this episode, we cover Scenes 44 and 45 of Suicide Squad. These are the final scenes of the movie, including the mid-credits scene with Bruce Wayne. This analysis was written by myself with Alessandro Maniscalco and Nick Begovich.

44 - Saving June (1:46:00)

Scene 44 is the aftermath of the final battle with Enchantress. With Deadshot having made the final shot, Flag tells him it was a great shot and goes in to hug him. But even though Deadshot and Flag’s relationship has progressed a lot throughout the movie, there are still some boundaries, and Deadshot pulls back, saying he’s not a hugger. So this is kind of a funny moment, especially after all the tensions between them earlier, and it does a good job of giving some emotional release after the climactic battle.

We then see Boomerang down on the ground grabbing Enchantress’s heart. The last time we saw the heart, Harley was holding it, but apparently it must’ve blown out of her grip with that final explosion. And next to the heart is a fancy watch, possibly the $3,000 one that Boomerang was stealing back in Scene 26. That might be why Boomerang was looking under there in the first place, but it also shows that Boomerang is now focusing more on the mission and the threat rather than his own personal gain. So that’s a subtle little change for Boomerang.

Flag and Enchantress obviously have to be the ones to have this final moment, and since Harley and Deadshot got their big moments in the last scene, it makes sense for Flag, the other primary member of the squad, to get his moment here. Enchantress asks to join her brother, but first Flag wants to make an appeal for June. He demands that Enchantress release June Moon back to him, but she says June is not coming back. Enchantress then dares him to destroy the heart, which he does in agony because he thinks he’s also losing his love. And with regard to this love story, way back in the beginning of our analysis we said that we thought the love set-up in Act 1 was a bit weak. We never really felt or bought into the deep love, and if it had been set up better, we think that this payoff here at the end would’ve been even better. But it’s still passable -- they definitely did establish the love, even though it did seem a bit shallow at times and there were moments where it seemed a bit off, such as with June before Enchantress bolted. We should mention, though, that the extended cut has several pieces of additional dialogue from Flag, so maybe that helps develop or emphasize his feelings about June.

But with regard to Enchantress’s heart, we see Flag crush it with his bare hands. So despite what Enchantress said, he did have the balls to do it. And it raises the question -- why didn’t Waller destroy the heart earlier? Waller stabbed it as soon as Enchantress bolted, but she still had the heart during the whole time that Enchantress and Incubus were taking over Midway City. Waller even could’ve destroyed the heart when she was in her crashed helo, before the Eyes took her away. So why didn’t she? The simple answer is that Waller didn’t have the balls. But it’s also possible that Waller had delusions of getting Enchantress back under control. And when she saw how Enchantress was able to create an army of Eyes, maybe Waller didn’t want to lose that potential. It was worth it to keep Enchantress alive for future purposes, even though Enchantress was killing thousands and threatening to take over the entire world. So if you hadn’t realized it already, Waller really is mean and crazy.

Anyway, back to the scene, Enchantress is dead now and Flag is walking away in sorrow, but it turns out that Enchantress was bluffing and June Moon actually is still alive. She pulls off the black witchy stuff from her face and she gives Flag that hug that Deadshot wouldn’t. Harley Quinn -- the other character who has a romantic partner that she has been trying to reunite with and one who may be dead but could hopefully rise back to life -- Harley gives a smile and sighs at the reunion.

Flag and June have some quick dialogue to mark the occasion, and it’s hard to write lines for these sorts of moments because they can easily come off as cheesy because they’re not a normal type of conversation -- see Man of Steel for an example of a great movie that sometimes gets little moments like this wrong -- but here in Suicide Squad, I think it’s not too bad. Flag says, “I thought I killed you.” And then June responds, “I thought I killed you.”

With Enchantress defeated, Croc, Deadshot, and Harley all expect to leave and they talk about what they want to do next. But of course there’s one more loose end that needs to be tied up -- Amanda Waller. She comes around the corner, and Deadshot acknowledges the unlikely nature of her survival as he says, “How are you not dead?” But she’s alive, and she’s still holding her device with the killer app. The squad is frustrated and Harley points out that they just saved the world. Waller offers them 10 years off their sentences, but Deadshot says that’s not enough. He wants to see his daughter. This is a callback to his negotiations from Scene 11 back at the shooting range. Waller asks if others have demands, and everyone gets a little something, except Boomerang who is a bad negotiator and fails in trying to stand up to Waller. But Croc asks for BET and Harley asks for an espresso machine. This sets up a transition to Scene 45, where we’ll see the final fate of the remaining squad members.

45 - Denouement (1:49:05)

So the first part of Scene 45 is Floyd Lawton in an apartment or townhouse with his daughter, Zoe. It’s the reunion that he’s wanted for the whole movie, and it also makes the audience think for a moment that perhaps Floyd has been released permanently. But it will be revealed in a moment that it’s just like Waller said -- it is an arrangement where he gets to see his daughter, but he’s still incarcerated.

Because I am actually a mathematics educator, it was fun for me to see that they were doing math homework. Specifically, it sounds like they’re doing trigonometry because they talk about a triangle and needing to find the length of the hypotenuse using other information about the triangle, including a given angle. But Zoe interprets the hypotenuse as the distance a bullet would travel if Deadshot took a shot from the upper vertex to that lower vertex of the triangle. This gesture by Zoe sends the same message that she stated earlier in the movie, and that was probably contained in her letters, which is that she loves him even though she knows he does bad things. In indeed, we’ve talked about that as an overarching message of the movie. The squad also comes to love each other even though they’ve done bad things in the past, and so we as the audience are invited to love these characters, too, flawed though they are.

In the past, Floyd kind of denied Zoe’s reference to his bad deeds, but here Floyd accepts the gesture and talks to her about other variables on the streets such as bullet weight and the curvature of the Earth. Then Flag and some officers come in to return Floyd to prison, and Floyd has a funny line about agreeing not to kill them all --- he’s cooperating now rather than starting fights with all the prison guards like he was doing at the start of the movie. And Zoe closes out this moment by saying that she loves her Dad, and importantly, Floyd actually replies by also saying, “I love you.” So he does have love in his life, even though he denied it to Harley Quinn after the acid flashback -- we already knew he loved Zoe, but it’s important that now he is saying it out loud. And even more than that, Floyd gives her a hug, despite the fact that he told Flag he wasn’t a hugger. Floyd is softening up all around.

Then with Floyd being brought back to prison, the film’s closure continues with a wide shot approaching Belle Reve, very similar to what we saw in the opening sequence of the film. The song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen comes in. And our listener, Trent Osborne from YouTube, has pointed out how this song fits quite well. Trent said, “The lyrics match exactly what is happening on the screen. "is this the real life, is this just fantasy" cue Harley in her cell reading what appears to be a fantasy novel. "caught in a land slide, no escape from reality" cue croc underground (landslide) watching TV (escape from reality). It's telling the story of the characters. [Like before], the movie is using music to reflect the stories of the characters to further convey and tell their stories and emotions. The music isn't just there for cool factor, it's there because it fits what's happening and is being used to further express the thoughts of the characters.”

Thanks, Trent. And we would add that the lyric “I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy” happens when Boomerang is shown on screen, and he is probably the least sympathetic character in the group. And the poor reference is fitting since he’s the jewel thief who is now shirtless. And for the last part of the song, the “just killed a man” line cues the Joker’s entrance.

But before we get there, we have to say that Harley was not only reading a romance novel but she also has the espresso machine that she wanted. She is much more comfortable and happy now than she was at the beginning when she was getting shocked and abused by Griggs. And speaking of Griggs, I really expected there to be some closure with his character, but it just didn’t happen. That’s definitely a drawback for me about the film, not only because I liked the Griggs character from the first half of the movie but also just because it’s a dangling thread that shouldn’t have been left there. It could’ve been something simple, like just having Griggs looking on at Harley in her cage, or when the Joker arrives, having a quick shot of Griggs freaking out and running away.

Anyway, Killer Croc is also shown down in his sewer cell, which he still prefers, but now he seems to be eating a doughnut and he has a TV, which is tuned to BET, Black Entertainment Television. Some people have criticized this for being stereotypical, and maybe it is, but for me it’s still very plausible -- lots of people do enjoy BET, so why can’t Croc?

Continuing the echoes from the beginning of the film, we get another security guard shot with all the surveillance cameras. And that visual echo helps us to contrast how things are different from the beginning. Well, Captain Boomerang is still the same, he’s still complaining and harassing the female guard outside his door. And he was too dumb to negotiate something reasonable with Waller, so he’s out of luck. But the other characters have changed from the beginning of the movie. It’s not that they’ve become free or released from prison -- they’re still in prison, but they have new contentment. This was never supposed to be a story about them starting locked up and then getting free. The point is for them to come to terms with their past, to see the humanity in one another, and for them to be treated by the guards as people and to be seen by us as people with souls. And I think, on that point, the movie is a success!

The biggest change, of course, is Floyd. And as we see him in his cell, we also see all the letters from Zoe. Yes, he’s punching again, like he was at the very start, but now it’s a legitimate punching bag now instead of his rolled up mattress. He also stops punching and slowly grabs and hugs the bag -- so he’s hugging even more, and it shows that contentment we were talking about. Our listener, PotterPointFilms on Youtube, noticed this same moment. He said: “[The] bookend moment with Floyd back in his cell and throwing punches just as he did in the opening scene, only now he hugs his punching bag after punching it, to me that felt like Deadshot was now accepting his situation and means to continue whatever he has left of his sentence to do right by his loved one.”

And if we really wanted to see Griggs again, this is another opportunity -- he could’ve came to Floyd’s cell and given him something a bit more appetizing than loaf. It only would’ve taken a few seconds, but anyway…

Joker and the Mid-Credit Scene (1:51:40)

The scene closes out back with Harley Quinn. An explosion blasts the wall open and then several armed men take out the guards. They have a big saw that they use to cut open Harley’s cage, and then a man in a tactical suit marked “Joker” comes in and pulls off his mask. It is the Joker. Harley is delighted and says, “Puddin’” and he says, “Let’s go home.” That cues the final credits, and it lets us know that somehow he survived the helo crash back in Midway City. It also makes the Joker available for future DCEU movies, and it makes Harley pretty flexible because she could be in a movie like Gotham City Sirens that takes place outside of Belle Reve, or she could be involved in something like Suicide Squad 2 if she gets re-arrested or otherwise pulled back into Waller’s grasp.

It’s also fitting that all three of the main characters got to finally be reunited with their loves -- Flag with June, Floyd with Zoe, and now Harley with the Joker.

Going into the final credits, the song is “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots. It went all the way up to number 2 on the Billboard charts and it was nominated for multiple Grammy awards. The music video, which takes place in Belle Reve prison, won an MTV Video Music Award, and the song overall helped push the soundtrack album to number one on the sales charts and to certified platinum status.

Going to the middle of the credits, though, we have the last portion that we’re going to cover in our Suicide Squad analysis, which is the mid-credit scene at the Cicada restaurant. The Cicada, by the way, is a real restaurant in Los Angeles. The movie’s wikipedia page says it’s in DC, but we disagree. Perhaps Amanda Waller goes out west to California to escape prying eyes that may be more focused on Washington DC or the East Coast, or maybe David Ayer just really likes it, being from LA. Or maybe it was just an easy place to film this scene logistically, getting Viola Davis and Ben Affleck together.

But this scene starts with Waller sharing something valuable with Bruce Wayne, and she acknowledges that to do so puts her at legal risk. Bruce says, “Listen, I can keep a secret.” This line, of course, means a lot to the audience because we know he’s Batman, but interestingly, Waller also knows he’s Batman, so maybe he’s not as good at keeping secrets as he thinks.

Then Waller says that people are asking questions about Midway City, and if they get answers, her head will be on a pike. So this indicates that the full scope of what happened there is unknown, and it explains why Waller shot the agents in her office -- she wanted to control the information as much as possible. A question arises, though, if Waller is very concerned about hiding the secret of Midway City -- not the destruction of the city, that is obviously public knowledge, but the information about the true cause of it all -- then whey wouldn’t Waller also kill all of the squad members? I think the answer is probably that she was impressed with what they were able to accomplish, and she sees value in still keeping them around for further manipulation and exploitation. Thus we really hope that Viola Davis signs on for Suicide Squad 2, because she is great in this role.

After Waller acknowledges her vulnerability, Bruce offers protection in exchange for the meta-human info. She hands over the files, and he scans them quickly -- we see pages on Enchantress, Barry Allen, and Arthur Curry. This is obviously a clear tease for Justice League. And most likely, Bruce will go to recruit Barry and Arthur first. I think it will be Arthur first, actually, because he’ll have trouble and run into a brick wall, so to speak, and then when he goes to Barry next, he’ll be thrilled that it’s much easier to recruit him than it was Aquaman. Cyborg, I think, will be recruited a bit differently because he is created from the motherbox technology that is linked to Apokolips, so Cyborg will probably enter the picture because of that link to the motherbox and his father at STAR Labs, not by Bruce just going out and trying to recruit him. That’s just my guess, anyway.

So these files are clear connective tissue between Suicide Squad and Justice League within this cinematic universe. And some people have questioned why Bruce needs this info when he already saw the Flash and Aquaman in Lex’s decrypted files, but (A) Bruce would be interested to find out what the government knows about these meta-humans as he prepares to form a league with them, (B) Bruce might want to corroborate what he got from Lex since he knows Lex can be devious and manipulative, and (C) Bruce is trying to gather more information and Waller clearly has access to more than what we saw from Lex; for example, she has info on Enchantress and Diablo, who were meta-humans but not included in Lex’s files. It’s likely that there are others that will be new to Bruce, or at least it’s plausible that Bruce would want to check out Waller’s info because of the possibility that she has more than Lex.

And by the way, with Justice League only a few months away, I do think it would be nice if we got a quick reference to Amanda Waller or to Enchantress and Diablo and the destruction in Midway City. I know there will be the thematic connections as we can compare and contrast how Amanda Waller formed her team and how Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince will form the Justice League, and the notions of friendship and bonds through strife will come up in both, but at least a quick acknowledgement of Suicide Squad will be nice, if it happens. If it doesn’t, I will be a little disappointed but I will understand, because Justice League overall is going to be the conclusion of the Zack Snyder Superman trilogy, so the connections to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman will be the most important.

But speaking of notions of friendship, Bruce says that he wants the files because he likes to “make friends.” And Waller says a key line here, “That’s the diff between us, you believe in friendship, I believe in leverage.” Even though this line is in a mid-credits scene that is teasing Justice League, we have actually used it as a framing device for looking at the entire movie as an exploration of the power of leverage versus the power of friendship, and it works really well. The movie did a great job of showing that friendship is the more powerful force, and the more pure force, so Bruce Wayne is on the right side here as opposed to Waller.

To close out the interaction. Waller slips in a bit of a threat or warning to Bruce. She says, “You look tired. You should stop working nights.” This is clearly a hint that she knows Bruce’s identity as Batman and she could use this against him if he turns on her. He responds with his own threat, “You should shut it down, or my friends and I will do it for you.” I don’t think this will happen in the movies for quite some time, but if the idea of a battle between the Justice League and the Suicide Squad seems interesting to you, then I recommend a recent graphic novel from DC Comics called Justice League versus Suicide Squad. It’s by Joshua Williamson, Jason Fabok, and Tony Daniel, and it’s a really entertaining action story set in the DC Rebirth era.

No comments:

Post a Comment