Don’t mistake the title, this is a Batman movie in name only. A strategy DC often uses when trying to make a story about a less well-known group of characters. Batman is not a side character, even though the Suicide Squad is the focus. The caped crusader plays an important role in the events that ensue in the narrative. Even so, this is a quintessential Suicide Squad movie.
Released in 2014Batman: Assault on Arkham is a DC animated movie. Instead of being a part of the DC animated Universe, the story is set in the Arkham series Universe.
As a well-received, by fans and critics alike, the predecessor to the 2016 live-action Suicide Squad movie, many considered it to be the perfect blueprint for the 2016 film. The result of the live-action, however, was far from anything like the animation.
The premise sees the director of the secret organization A.R.G.U.S., Amanda Waller, unite a group of highly dangerous criminals. Of course, for a special mission: infiltrate Arkham Asylum and retrieve an important item. Unofficially, the group gets christened as the Suicide Squad after thehighly dangerous missions Waller assigns.
As an ensemble movie, Assault on Arkham focuses heavily on its characters and the interactions between them. We go through Batman’s rogue gallery in the scenes while also witnessing very interesting cameos. Thus, it is worth taking a deeper look at this movie’s version of the main characters as well the Arkham Universe at large.
The Arkham Universe is a reality made out of mainly the action-adventure videogames – Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Batman: Arkham Knight. Throughout the series, the players gets to play as Batman and encounter almost all of his villains.
The series has received widespread critical acclaim. It is regarded as one of the best media adaptations of Batman. Besides the games, this universe is formed by various digital comic series. They serve as tie-ins to the games and the aforementioned movie, Assault on Arkham, which is set before Arkham Asylum and after Arkham Origins.
Ex-psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum and ex-girlfriend to the Clown Prince of Crime, Harley Quinn steals the show in every iteration of the character with her crazy antics, silly behavior, and fighting skills. Those elements are ramped up in the story. She is maniac and violent, unlike her version in the Batman animated series.
She is also the more openly comedic element of the movie. While other characters are deadly serious, her impulsive behavior and lively personality are a good contrast to the overall tone of the movie.
Floyd Lawton doesn’t play at work. Discharged from the army for being too risky, he is the “World’s Greatest Assassin”. His name comes from his incredible aim; he never misses a shot.
While being kept in a top-secret facility, Lawton attempts to escape. They sedate him before he is able to escape. After, he becomes the de facto leader of Task Force X. His seriousness makes him a competent leader and a menacing presence wherever he is.
Though his moniker may be funny to some, George Harkness can really make a boomerang become deadly. Known in the comics as one of Flash’s arch-rivals, his presence in Task Force X fits him, and he is responsible to provide, alongside Harley Quinn, comic relief for the group.
His humor comes more in a form of sarcastic remarks and a highly exaggerated perspective of himself. The rest of the movie explores his rivalry with Deadshot. While he has skills, he comes lacking in the leadership department, losing the role to Lawton.
With a fearless no-nonsense attitude, Killer Frost uses her deadly ice powers to commit various criminal activities. Despite her seriousness, she has a quiet sense of humor and often laughs at silly jokes. She even makes a pun in the movie.
Her sense of self – preservation is a strong characteristic, as no type o loyalty constrains her to her colleagues.
With an extremely carnivore appetite and insatiable appetite, King Shark provides the scenes with the most gore. In the movie, he’s not a humanoid shark, like in other iterations, but instead a sort of mutant with shark-like features.
He’s highly dangerous. But while his bulletproof skin can give him an edge in combat, not even his extreme resistance can save him from the bombs implanted in each one of the members of the squad’s heads.
Less well known than his Task Force X counterparts. Briefly mentioned in Batman: Arkham Origins, Black Spider’s first proper appearance in the Arkhamvese is during this movie.
He despises criminals and seeks to eliminate all of them, as such, he sees himself in a completely different light from the other members of the group. He is reluctant to work with criminals, but Amanda Waller’s threats leave him no choice but to do so.
A former top special agent from KGB KGBeast combines brute force and a menacing cybernetic arm with explosive features to eliminates his enemies. After an attack on an American-owned base,KGBeast gets captured and becomes a member of Task Force X.
Last, but definitely not least, though not officially a member of Task Force X Amanda Waller is the one who calls the shots and the bombs. She despises criminals and sees them only as expendable entities able to provide what she wants.
Extremely driven, she always looks for a way to accomplish her goals, even if it means leaving a trail of death and betrayal on her path. Though she doesn’t have powers, her authority, menacing attitude, and government powers are enough to keep villains stunned, at least for a while.
An Explosive Adventure
Batman: Assault on Arkham mixes the best things we rarely get to see in live-action adaptations of DC products. While the common thread is to develop a hero’s journey and some sort of character ark, here none of this happens, and it is not a shame at all!
There’s something quite joyful and entertaining about seeing a heist caper (no wonder there are so many of them in Hollywood) with extremely different villainous characters clashing with each other while providing a real show of violence and amorality onscreen that you wouldn’t see in a blockbuster version of the title.
And that is exactly why Assault on Arkham is the quintessential Suicide Squad movie. The movie doesn’t care being palatable to a wider audience or family-friendly. It is just a great bundle of violence, fun, and dark humor.
In fact, the humor in the movie is delivered in a very seamless manner. It is not made through several jokes inserted every 5 minutes. Instead, the sarcastic remarks all fit in perfectly with the characters, and the visual imagery and ironic situations provide a quiet though impactful type of humor that can make you laugh unexpectedly.
Balance of characters and power plays
The characters’ interactions and power plays are the cherries on top. Despite the shorter runtime of animated movies, almost all the characters receive enough screentime to showcase their abilities and personality and to keep the movie dynamics well balanced.
Even Batman’s appearances, though short, are extremely well used to shake things up with much-needed narrative conflict. He doesn’t steal the show but instead adds to the villains’ conflicts and attitudes throughout the movie.
But while most of the characters are indeed interesting, some fall short of deserving real attention, as is the case with Black Spider. He’s the weak link of the group. His distaste for criminals is never explored further. Instead it is only mentioned in the beginning.
In the same manner, Amanda Waller starts out strong and powerful. After the first half of the movie, her presence is very reduced. Which ends up being detrimental to the character. I would have liked to see more strategies from her on how to deal with the characters’ unpredictability.
On the other hand, some of the secondary characters have an impactful presence, such as the Joker and the Riddler. Overall, the movie balances the importance of the characters.
quintessential Suicide Squad movie.
Batman: Assault on Arkham makes the sum of the best of DC animated movies. With an interesting set of characters, well-developed narrative tension and conflict, and entertaining action sequences, the feature proves, once again, the superiority animated movies can have over live-action ones for their freedom and commitment to the story.