We need to talk about the real villain of ‘Suicide Squad’
Warning: major spoilers about Suicide Squad lie ahead.
Suicide Squad is full of bad guys, but we need to talk about the real bad guy in Suicide Squad.
No, it’s not Kevin we need to talk about (who is decidedly more frightening and more memorable than the actual villains in Suicide Squad. And though Kevin’s counterpart, Barry Allen, made a characteristically blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the movie).
We need to talk about the true antagonists of the latest DC movie, the ones our rogues gallery of anti-heroes must battle.
Enchantress and Incubus.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Did you know they’d be the antagonists of this movie before walking into the theater? I didn’t.
Warner Bros. kept Enchantress/Dr. June Moone largely out of Suicide Squad’s trailers, and it’s not because of any backlash about the character’s costume. It turns out she’s the antagonist here, along with the help of her brother (or “brother”), Incubus, and that was a secret kept hidden until you were seated in the movie theater (though some folks figured it out ahead of time).
Before seeing the movie, best guess at who the Suicide Squad would be facing off with in their movie? The Joker. He would have been a far more interesting adversary, but, alas, Jared Leto’s take on the Clown Prince of Crime was barely in the film. It’s almost difficult to really assess his performance, let alone compare it to Jack Nicholson’s and Heath Ledger’s as we’re so inclined to do, since Leto had relatively little screen time.
Instead, Enchantress and Incubus are the ones wrecking havoc, and quite frankly, it’s boring. Uninteresting villains is something that’s plagued both Marvel and DC movies throughout their history (with notable exceptions including Loki, The Joker, and Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor). DC Comics tends to have the edge with the most iconic, recognizable villains to supply from its panels, but it’s up to the screenwriters to deliver a compelling and believable onscreen antagonist.
What Suicide Squad gives us instead is a run-of-the-mill villain who wants to rule the world and is spouting out the typical “join me or die” stuff. Enchantress also has the world threatened, yet again, by a “glowing doodad,” which is all too common a trope in superhero movies, as my colleague Drew McWeeny pointed out. Not helping matters is the fact that Cara Delevingne just isn’t as strong of an actress as most of her co-stars.
At 6,313-year-old Enchantress’ side is Incubus, an obscure demon character who possesses a man named Larry Eden in the Suicide Squad comics. This demonic entity pops up in the comics just a few times in DC’s long history. With less history to him, there was more room for David Ayer to play, but the most interesting thing about this monstrous force ended up being how his blasts of destruction appeared to leave walls and aircraft carriers in crystalized pieces (which, yes, looked pretty rad).
Now, the stuff with Rick Flag being torn between helping Moone with this evil trapped inside her and obeying Amanda Waller’s orders — that’s interesting. Enchantress also provided my favorite effect in the film, the moment when Enchantress’ hand reaches up and clutches Moone’s, then transforms the young archaeologist into the sorceress with a flip over of her hand. But once we get to the big showdown in the Midway City train station, we’re watching uninteresting, unoriginal villain rehash.
Christopher Nolan gave us much more memorable, sensical, fleshed-out villains in Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow, Marion Cotillard’s Talia Al Ghul, Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face, Tom Hardy’s Bane, and, of course, Ledger’s Joker. Zack Snyder has already delivered a compelling villain in his interpretation of Ozymandias in Watchmen. Michael Shannon’s Zod was okay. So we know Snyder’s capable. Warner Bros. and its creative talent need to step it up with their next movies when it comes to villains. Wonder Woman, Justice League, you got this.