Even before the movie came out, I was worried about the fate of Suicide Squad. Although I had enjoyed Batman v. Superman, I know many people didn’t. As a result, it felt like the fate of the DC Universe movie franchise was left with this quirky anti-hero movie.

I kept up with the reviews for Suicide Squad, and I greatly lowered my expectations as a result. However, I ended up really liking the film. The Suicide Squad has an absolutely stellar cast, and this is the main reason why it is so good. They bring a lot of complexity to characters who could otherwise easily be portrayed as one-dimensional. The writing in the film was silly at best and mediocre at worse, but the amount of charisma that is brought to all of the characters makes you care about their fate and their mission.

Will Smith as Deadshot is the clear stand-out performance. While Margot Robbie nailed Harley Quinn, weak writing made Harley a less impressive and sympathetic character. The other actors brought a lot to the table, but were often delegated to the background. However, they are all characters I would like to see more of. Unlike other ensemble super-hero movies, however, I feel that I got the least out of the supporting characters who make up the group. This is most true with Katana, a favorite character of mine who I feel due to screentime and lack of a developed backstory made for a character who was just there most of the time. Karen Fukuhara did a great job with what she was given, but, unfortunately, she just wasn’t given very much. This may be due to few fans knowing the character, but as we see in many Marvel movies, that often doesn’t affect affection towards a well-written character with a charismatic actor.

One of the most disappointing plotlines in the film involves Harley Quinn. Though she is the female lead, she falls into the usual Harley Quinn trap: she is in an abusive relationship and doesn’t seem to know it. While Jared Leto’s Joker is unsympathetic and cruel, there’s still no catharsis for the audience with Harley’s abuse. She is not empowered at any point or even seems to acknowledge the problems in the relationship, and this is disappointing. The film seems to get off on physically and psychologically abusing Harley. This is an issue with the character in general, but it is still disappointing to see that the film didn’t even attempt to address these issues.

Truly, the biggest issues with the film were pacing. It was funny and action-packed, but it always felt like the scene was starting too far into the situation or like a running joke was being missed by the audience. This may have been the result of the reshoots and changed edits, but, although the film is good, it felt like it should have been something more. The dial needed to be turned more towards serious drama or goofy action flick. While they were certainly taking cues from films like Deadpool, Kick-Ass, and Guardians of the Galaxy, it was afraid at times to fully embrace what it was. Instead, it felt like two experimental films spliced together.

While this film is the most clear on what DC is going for with its cinematic universe, it’s still not quite sure what it is. Clearly, DC doesn’t want to be Marvel, but, in some ways, it would be better if they stuck more strongly to the Marvel outline that seems to work and attract fans rather than trying to make each movie revolutionary. They know now that people don’t want to see superhero dramas like Man of Steel or Batman v. Superman, but what they can’t seem to figure out is how to reconcile their vision with what the fans want to see. Suicide Squad is clearly a step in the right direction, but I’m hoping to see more improvements in the upcoming Wonder Woman film.

Image: Warner Bros