This article that is all about family contains spoilers for Suicide Squad and The Suicide Squad.
Family. When you hear that word in the context of film, nine times out of 10 you’ll have Vin Diesel’s face flash across your mind, thanks to memes and that the Fast & Furious franchise is centered around family.
They don’t just wear it on their sleeve; they shove it in your face. Although personally, I’ve never found the family dynamic of the Fast & Furious franchise particularly compelling. It’s hard to feel emotion for these characters when it feels like they’re bulletproof and there is no worry of the status quo ever changing. This is because perhaps only one or two have died across these 10 films.
Strangely, this is where the Suicide Squad films and their teams come into play. For me, the Suicide Squad are not just the definition of squad goals, but also family goals.
Both Suicide Squad adventures are centered around family. Several of the key figures’ motivations of each film, including those of Deadshot, Bloodsport, El Diablo, and Ratcatcher II, have family connections that compel them. Both Deadshot and Bloodsport try to keep their children away from their chosen profession.
They want the only positive elements in their life to be divorced from their bloodsoaked worlds. Even when Bloodsport shuns his daughter when he first sees her and derides her very connection to him, the moment Waller threatens to put her daughter in prison or worse, he is ready to kill Waller.
With Deadshot, he is ready to go toe to toe with Batman but stops when his daughter steps between them, pleading with her father to stop. It’s a heartbreaking moment when you see the human behind the supposed monster.
You then have El Diablo, who is a man covered in the ashes of his family. He adored them, but one night he momentarily lost control and killed them all. It’s a scar that has turned him from a gangster to a pacifist. It’s only when he finds his second family, the Suicide Squad, that he realizes there are others out there he can connect with, enough so that he gives his life saving them all.
Ratcatcher II is very much the same as El Diablo; she brings the love of her previous family to this new one. Her family is already unconventional — the rats she controls are not just weapons, but creatures she has grown up with and are a connection to her dead father. What is fascinating is that the darker leanings between her and her father is something that helps her connect with Bloodsport. These connections mixed with the unpredictability of the events around them helped me root for all these characters.
Finding Family in All the Wrong Places
With the topic of finding family in the unlikeliest of places we come to Rick Flag, Harley Quinn, and Captain Boomerang, characters that exist in both Suicide Squad films and who found a bond in the first film. When the second film opens up, you feel a sense of quirky camaraderie between the three. Flag feels like a bigger brother to the two psychotic little siblings he is in charge of. Watching them fall apart throughout the course of The Suicide Squad is genuinely painful, especially when you see the survivor’s guilt that Harley clearly has. She mourns for her two brothers in arms, and when all is said and done she wants to bring Waller down, even if it means battling a giant starfish.
I’m Going to Get You Out of Here Alive
What makes the Suicide Squad films work as tales about an unconventional family is that something could go wrong at any moment. In both bar scenes in each Suicide Squad film, both teams bond over their trauma. There is even a surprisingly touching moment when Ratcatcher II’s rat is brought into the fold as an extended member of the group. The characters find strength in their scars, and it is these moments that make the highs so high when they need to be, but they also add to the emotional punch when betrayals happen.
This is in stark contrast to the numb feeling of the family barbecues we see at the end of the majority of Fast & Furious films. They feel more like an advertisement for Corona (the beer) rather than a sweet moment between friends. This may have to do with the fact that emotionally they mean nothing.
The most egregious moment came when Deckard Shaw came to the barbecue in The Fate of the Furious. How could anyone convincingly welcome him when the last time they saw him he was fresh off killing Han? It is disingenuous and utterly hollow.
It’s ironic that a film franchise like Fast & Furious that prides itself on family feels devoid of any such emotional connection. Each character feels like a god, inhuman and lacking that spark of relatability. Meanwhile, on the more obscene side of the tracks are a bunch of broken, bruised individuals who find their humanity among their degenerate peers. The Suicide Squad isn’t perfect and they’re not bulletproof, but they are a family, for better or worse.