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How James Gunn's The Suicide Squad Has Reinvigorated The Comic Book Movie by Kieran Loughlin

Unashamedly a James Gunn movie, The Suicide Squad has completely shaken up the comic book movie playing field, creating an energetic film that pays homage to the comic books that came before it, whilst also carving out its own identity. The latest offering from the DC Extended Universe follows the most unlikely roster of supervillains on a high-stakes mission for the government, with the incentive of reducing their prison sentences if successful. Both times I’ve gone to the cinema to watch The Suicide Squad, it has been such a fun ride, cementing itself as one of my favourite films.

In the past, the majority of superhero films have opted for more grounded, desaturated visuals. While this move possibly caters to a wider audience, it means that so many superhero films have distanced themselves from the aesthetic appeal of comic books. Thankfully, The Suicide Squad revels in its comic book roots, combining humour with bombastic fight sequences, a vibrant colour palette and zany costumes. Additionally, the film’s episodic structure creates snappy pacing, composed of these action-packed comic book issues. James Gunn is having so much fun in the superhero playground, his end product truly feeling like a comic book has spilled onto the big screen.

'The Suicide Squad revels in its comic book roots, combining humour with bombastic fight sequences, a vibrant colour palette and zany costumes."

From a character standpoint, James Gunn excels in reinventing offbeat characters from DC’s sprawling mythos: take away their wacky costumes and we are left with incredibly flawed, human characters who don’t quite fit in with the clean-cut heroes and villains of past comic book movies. It is a delight to watch Gunn’s characters go from being total outsiders to forming connections with the rest of the team, each character learning to accept themselves along the way. Alongside this thoughtful exploration of belonging there is the proviso in this film that no one is truly safe. This makes for exciting viewing, taking away the safety net that permeates throughout so many comic book films.

I find it admirable how much of himself James Gunn puts into his film. The Suicide Squad stands out amongst so many other comic book films due to its personal feel. This film is lovingly crafted by Gunn, with his voice resonant throughout the dialogue, action beats, and most importantly in the film’s central message. Gunn places special emphasis on the importance of an individual’s worth- people are allowed to change and move on from past mistakes. The past is not immutable so does not have to define who we are. Gunn’s message mirrors his own efforts to change as a person, giving the film a personal flair that makes for special viewing.

"This is a film lovingly crafted by Gunn with his voice resonant throughout the dialogue, action beats and most importantly in the film's central message."

The experimental and stylistic sensibilities of Gunn’s The Suicide Squad opens up so many possibilities for the future of comic book movies. Above all else, The Suicide Squad is a call for films to embrace the sheer fun factor that comic books offer. In doing so, Gunn taps into the creative potential of the comic book movie, as an outlet for creators to really give themselves to the story, and just have fun whilst doing so. The Suicide Squad has stayed with me for a long time since watching it, and makes me really excited for the future of comic book movies.

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