Our favorite Caped Crusader just got done celebrating 75 years of giving the world the best and worst stories to ever be woven about his mythos, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t dig into another film of his despite doing so last time. However, we’re stepping away from animated tales based on a comic book story line for this entry and instead weaving an original story within a stellar series of digital delight. It’s time to break into the film called…
Originally released on July 25, 2014 at the San Diego Comic-Con, July 29 on Digital Download and August 12 on DVD & Blu-Ray, this film is set in the “Batman: Arkham” video game series. While technically a sequel to the prequel game “Batman: Arkham Origins”, this film officially takes place two years before the first game of the series, “Batman: Arkham Asylum”. Let’s leave our sanity at the door and dive in.
We open at a dockside warehouse in Gotham City where Edward Nygma a.k.a. The Riddler (voiced by Matthew Gray Gulber of Criminal Minds fame) is dishing out riddles to a particularly powerful government official, Amanda Waller (voiced by C.C.H. Pounder, reprising her role from Arkham Origins & Arkham Origins Blackgate).
However, it turns out that she was distracting him as her Black Ops team crashes in and quickly surround the Riddler in order to arrest him.
Just then, the lights go out as an ominous voice cries out, “The Riddler Is Mine”. Shortly after switching over to Night Vision, the Black Ops team soon discovers that it’s none other than Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy, reprising his role from the video game series [excluding Origins]). After ultimately defeating every last Black Ops agent, he then confronts the Riddler about helping the Joker and wants to know where “it” is.
With the mission turning up as a failure, Waller orders for the formation of Task Force X proclaiming, “We have another suicide mission”.
During the opening title sequence, we see the various villains that will be recruited into her team. First up, we have Louise Lincoln a.k.a. Killer Frost (voiced by Jennifer Hale) who’s captured by the police following a failed bank heist.
Next, we have Nanaue a.k.a. King Shark (voiced by John DiMaggio) who’s discovered by the police at his hideout with corpses hanging from the ceiling as he emerges from a bathtub full of blood and tries attacking them.
We then cut to Eric Needham a.k.a. Black Spider (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) who manages to kill a mob boss that’s under police protection before the law ultimately captures him.
Already in prison, we then move on to George “Digger” Harkness a.k.a. Captain Boomerang (voiced by Greg Ellis) who fends off another prisoner’s attack by using his food tray as a boomerang.
We then move to Anatoli Knyazev a.k.a. KGBeast (voiced by Nolan North) who’s attacking a U.S. Military Installation before he’s ultimately captured.
Next in line, we meet Dr. Harleen Quinzel a.k.a. Harley Quinn (voiced by Hynden Walch) who’s at a Halfway House for Women while watching a cartoon on a digital device. When a female orderly takes it away, Harley responds by ripping her ear off with her mouth in order to continue watching her cartoons.
Finally, we have Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot (voiced by Neal McDonough) who’s already in jail. As he’s being led to another part of the prison, he easily defeats the guards in an attempt to escape. However, he turns his back on the accompanying doctor who manages to subdue him with a sedative.
Following the title card, we then cut to the villains waking up. With the exception of Killer Frost, nobody is in shackles of any kind since they’re in a heavily-fortified cell. We find out that Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Captain Boomerang have been in this group before, but King Shark, Killer Frost, Black Spider and KGBeast are the newcomers.
Shortly afterwards, Amanda Waller arrives and tells our villains that they’ve been recruited into Task Force X (a.k.a. the Suicide Squad), an off-the-books team comprised of criminals who’re serving life sentences being assigned as expendable agents for deadly missions by the U.S. Government. When Killer Frost asks what’s in their necks, she explains that it’s not just a tracking device. There’s also a nanotech explosive which will detonate should any of them get captured, try to flee or disregard an order.
KGBeast doesn’t believe her, so Waller opens the cell door to let him out. However, the moment he takes a single step outside the cell’s boundaries, the explosive in his neck activates causing his head to blow up and kill him.
With everyone’s attention fully-grasped, Waller proceeds to inform the rest of the villains about their assignment. She tells them that the Riddler hacked into her computer system and downloaded the identities & personal histories of every past, present and potential Suicide Squad member with the looming threat of releasing said information on the internet. With him now being imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, they’re going to break in and recover Nygma’s lone copy, a thumb drive that’s inside a compartment on his cane and is in storage within the institution. After quickly learning that Harley and the Joker ended their partnership, Waller says that they’ll sneak into Gotham and meet up with a power broker who’ll get them ready for the mission.
After getting gassed out again, we then cut to an airplane where the Suicide Squad members are bound to specialized chairs. Upon arriving at their drop-point, they’re dumped out. Once they reach a certain altitude, they’re freed from their bonds and deploy their parachutes. Upon reaching the ground, they proceed to head into the sewer system in order to reach their destination.
It turns out that the rendezvous point is the Iceberg Lounge as they meet up with their power broker, Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. The Penguin (also voiced by Nolan North). However, he’s not pleased with seeing Harley Quinn amongst the group, since she and the Joker spoiled a past business transaction of his. Fortunately, Deadshot manages to cool the situation as they’re rewarded with the files. The Penguin then allows them to spend the night within his upstairs sleeping quarters and that they’ll be deployed the following evening.
Following a quick montage where the Suicide Squad gears up for their mission, we then cut to Captain Boomerang trying to make amends with Deadshot due to a bad start with each other. However, a friendly game of darts does nothing to quell the hostility.
Just as Lawton passes her on the way back to his room, Killer Frost is contacted by Waller. It turns out that she’s getting a “special assignment”, but the details are to come later on.
After arriving back in his room and preparing to rest up, Deadshot is then confronted by a naked Harley Quinn. After initially refusing her invitation, he gives in and proceeds to have a rough-and-tumbling one-night stand with her.
Sometime later, the mission gets underway as Harley breaks into a toy store. This gets the attention of Batman as they proceed to tussle for a bit. Eventually, the Dark Knight gets her under control and demands to know where the location of a certain “it” is, but she doesn’t know. As the rest of the Suicide Squad watch from their van via a hidden camera, Deadshot contacts Waller in order to find out what Batman’s talking about. She tells them that the Joker has swiped a Dirty Bomb and has hidden it within the city, where the radiating explosion would wipe out half of Gotham’s population.
Discovering via a cowl device that she’s telling the truth, Batman ultimately hands Harley over to the police as they proceed to take her back to Arkham Asylum.
Upon the arrival, it turns out that Deadshot intercepted the police car and stuffed the actual cop in the trunk. Now wearing the officer’s uniform, he and Harley head into the compound under the guise of returning her to her cell. As it turns out, they’re going to plant a device that will help the rest of their comrades get in.
Meanwhile, Captain Boomerang disguises himself as an ambulance worker while a stripped-down Killer Frost hides inside a body bag as she uses her freezing power to lower her own body temperature to near-death levels. Together, they enter through the Gotham Morgue sector of the compound. Despite a successful scan through the X-Ray, the workers start getting suspicious since they weren’t expecting a newly-deceased body to arrive.
While all of that is going on, we cut to Black Spider who captures one of the workers, kills him and then takes his outfit. Despite having the previous worker’s I.D. Badge, he’s not able to gain access as the guard is one step away from calling security.
We then cut back to Deadshot and Harley Quinn who proceed towards a junction box within the main cell grid. However, they happen to walk by a prison cell containing the Clown Prince of Crime himself, Joker (voiced by Troy Baker). His constant taunting causes Harley to snap as she grabs Deadshot’s gun, flips herself around (while getting her cuffed hands in front of her) and start shooting at his bulletproof cell door. As Lawton tries to get her under control, she also shoots at a nearby pipe containing some electrical wires. She then tries shooting the Joker through the small holes in the door, but none of the bullets manage to graze him. In fact, the most they do is puncture a small hole in the wall. After attaching the device to the newly-exposed wires, Deadshot proceeds to get Harley under control, but not before she tells the Joker that he’s her new boyfriend.
Thanks to Deadshot, the computer system allows Captain Boomerang to bring his “corpse” deep within the morgue. As the doctor opens up the body bag to begin an autopsy, Killer Frost wakes up and kills him with a literal “kiss of death”. After Captain Boomerang takes out the remaining doctor, the two of them proceed further into the compound.
With the computer system finally giving him access, Black Spider makes his way into the kitchen. He proceeds to take a tray full of silverware and stuff them into the microwave. After setting the timer, he climbs into the dumb waiter shaft where he kicks a gas pipe open before climbing downwards. The resulting sparks coming off the microwaved silverware combines with the deadly fumes, creating an explosion that wipes out part of the Asylum’s power, sending the compound into Code Yellow.
With everyone gathered together, they proceed to lift up a grate to let the final member of their party in. However, a nearby security guard notices and tries to catch them in the act. Unfortunately for him, he’s attacked by King Shark who takes him into the water and kills him. The amphibious foe then emerges with a tote bag containing his fellow teammates’ weapons and costumes.
After easily taking over the Main Security Hub, they discuss how they’re going to reach their destination without the security cameras picking them up. King Shark suggests that they play yesterday’s footage from the same time, to which Harley proceeds to take care of. After they spot where they need to go, the Suicide Squad then take their leave with Killer Frost bringing up the rear due to her finding out the location of a certain someone.
They manage to reach the exercise yard where four guard towers have the area combed with searchlights. Deadshot and Captain Boomerang ultimately agree to each take a side and knock out the guards. Lawton manages to take out his targets, but Harkness is only able to initially take our his first guard. The second one ducked, noticed that his fellow workers were taken down and managed to call for back-up before the second boomerang came back around to knock him out.
Deadshot scolds Captain Boomerang for his reckless miss before the two of them get into a tussle. Harley warns them that more guards have entered the area, but King Shark starts blowing their cover by charging right at them.
With no other choice, the Suicide Squad is forced into fighting the guards as they ultimately get the situation under control.
We cut back to Gotham City where Batman is trying to diffuse a hostage situation as the psychopathic serial killer Victor Zsasz (voiced by Christian Lanz) is holding a woman at knife-point.
After defusing the situation by firing his grappling hook into the wall and tugging it out, causing a piece of debris to knock Zsasz out, Batman climbs into the Batmobile where he’s contacted by his faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth (voiced by Martin Jarvis, reprising his role from Arkham City & Arkham Origins). Batman tells him that he’s been suspicious of Harley’s recent behavior and feels like she wanted to get caught, thinking that it’s connected to the Joker’s Dirty Bomb.
Remembering that Arkham went to Code Yellow earlier this evening, he hacks into the security cameras to scope out the place where he starts noticing employees that aren’t supposed to be working the Friday shift. Realizing that archival security footage is playing in its place, Batman speeds off towards Arkham.
After Deadshot berates his team for nearly blowing their cover, they finally make their way to the Intensive Treatment wing where Harley punches in the code to open the door (and also states about her being a former employee).
Upon reaching the Property Room, the Suicide Squad splits up to find their target. While Harley gets reacquainted to her mallet and Killer Frost discovers Mr. Freeze’s Ice Gun, Deadshot is ultimately the one who finds Riddler’s cane and the spherical attachment that houses the USB Drive.
Suddenly, Batman shows up as he proceeds to fight the entire Suicide Squad. From Killer Frost using Mr. Freeze’s Ice Gun via her own chill powers and Captain Boomerang’s assortment of boomerangs to the physical forces of Black Spider and King Shark, the Dark Knight is able to withstand their blows and knock them around.
Deadshot tries using a nearby rocket launcher, yet the Caped Crusader is able to dodge the shot. The missile ends up striking the ceiling, causing the building to start crumbling. While Black Spider catches up to Batman and starts tussling with him, the rest of the Suicide Squad manages to escape from the collapsing structure.
Black Spider manages to emerge from the rubble with Batman’s utility belt as the rest of the Suicide Squad are amazed to see the impossible happen: the Dark Knight getting defeated. However, Deadshot opens up the small compartment to find out that the USB Drive isn’t in there. Plus, they’ve lost Killer Frost within the scuffle.
We then see where she ran off to. It turns out that she’s performing the “special assignment” for Waller as she arrives at the Riddler’s cell in order to kill him. However, Killer Frost lets him live when he states that he knows how to diffuse the nanotech bombs in their necks.
We then head back to the Joker where he finally discovers the hole in his cell left behind by Harley’s bullets. He manages to rework the wires, which opens his prison door and allows him to break out.
Meanwhile, the Suicide Squad arrives at Riddler’s cell to see that he’s gone. Waller contacts them as they find out from her that the Special Crimes Unit has been summoned to Arkham’s Medical Center, allowing Deadshot and company to give chase once again.
After a quick scene where the Joker takes out a pair of guards and steals one of their handguns…
…we then cut to Killer Frost and the Riddler arriving just outside the Medical Center only for the room to be protected by the S.C.U. They’re forced to take cover from the gunfire before the rest of the Suicide Squad arrive, who manage to take out a few officers along the way before learning about Nygma’s intentions.
They ultimately have King Shark to serve as their shield, due to his thick skin protecting him from bullets. However, he has to cross a narrow walkway even though he has acrophobia (fear of heights). To solve this, he’ll be blindfolded while Killer Frost hangs off of his back to serve as his eyes.
She guides King Shark into a water main before using her frost powers to trap the officers onto the floor. Nanaue then finishes the job by charging right through the S.C.U. and reaches the doorway on the opposite side.
After reaching the Medical Center, the Riddler preps the Suicide Squad for electric shock therapy in order to short out their nanotech bombs while Black Spider serves as lookout due to the Gotham City Police joining in on the manhunt. Waller contacts Deadshot to let him know of her growing suspicion due to Arkham Asylum being placed on Code Red. Shortly afterwards, Nygma starts up the machine as the massive jolts begin to disable their nanotech bombs.
Shortly after Nygma ends the massive electric shock therapy, Waller realizes that she’s getting screwed over by her own team as she activates the nanotech bombs. Thanks to the thousands of volts, their explosive devices were deactivated. However, the same thick skin that protected him from bullets also inadvertently helped King Shark resist the massive electric burst as the nanotech bomb causes his head to blow up.
At the same time, a redressed Joker comes across Batman and finds him groggy & needing the wall for support. He preps his gun for the kill shot, but then the Caped Crusader’s neck suddenly explodes. When he then checks out the decapitated head, he finds out that it isn’t Batman at all, since the real Dark Knight has a lighter skin tone and doesn’t have a goatee.
Back at the Medical Center, Captain Boomerang wonders why Black Spider’s head didn’t blow up as well. Suddenly, the Riddler has a realization: Batman has swapped costumes with the Black Spider. Using a handgun he acquired from the defeated S.C.U., Nygma fires away at the Dark Knight. Shortly after the Caped Crusader takes the Riddler down, the Joker arrives (due to Black Spider’s communicative earpiece picking up the commotion) and opens fire. During the tussle, the remaining Suicide Squad members make their escape as Batman is forced to crash through a window and flee via grappling hook.
Soon afterwards, Joker catches up with the Suicide Squad and prepares to shoot Deadshot. Even after Harley Quinn manages to become his partner again, he still readies his handgun at Lawton. However, Deadshot is able to psyche his way out of getting shot before the Joker escapes with Harley via the laundry chute.
Upon reaching the laundry room, he relieves Harley of her mallet to open a hidden compartment. It turns out that his Dirty Bomb was inside it all along. As such, he activates the timer as it begins its 30-minute countdown to destruction.
Meanwhile, Batman catches up to the remaining Suicide Squad. Shortly afterwards, the Joker hijacks the airwaves to announce the preparation of his Dirty Bomb. He also has something else in store to keep the Dark Knight busy.
With the pulling of a single switch, every cell door in Arkham opens up. From Two-Face and Scarecrow…
…to Bane and Poison Ivy, a flood of inmates overwhelm the S.C.U. officers inside as a huge riot breaks out. As Batman heads out to try and stop the insanity, the Suicide Squad wonder how they’re going to get out. As if in response, a helicopter delivering more S.C.U. officers arrives. As such, the Suicide Squad disbands as it becomes every man and woman for themselves in a mad dash to escape.
Leading the charge against the escaping inmates is Commissioner James Gordon (voiced by Chris Cox). However, the prisoners start gaining the upper hand due to the various members of Batman’s rogues gallery being able to easily best the various police officers.
During the commotion, the former Suicide Squad members try to make their escape. Killer Frost stops Two-Face from commandeering a police car as she climbs in. However, it turns out to be a huge mistake as Bane (unbeknownst to him) picks up the vehicle with her inside and tosses it in defense. The car ultimately crashes into a wall and explodes, killing her in the process.
Meanwhile, Deadshot and Captain Boomerang shoot at each other as they both dash towards the helicopter. Lawton gets inside first and manages to take off, but not before Harkness is able to hop aboard. Deadshot manages to lose Captain Boomerang as he spins the helicopter, causing his foe to fall back onto Arkham grounds as he flies off towards the city limits.
Back on the ground, the Gotham P.D. and the S.C.U. are on the ropes as Bane leads the prisoners on a violent charge towards the bridge that leads into the city. Fortunately, Batman arrives and rips the venom-filled tubes out of the mask, causing the behemoth to grow weary and fall into the bay.
With the police and the S.C.U. finally regaining control against the inmates, Batman takes notice of the fleeing helicopter. As such, he summons the Batwing as he flies off to give chase.
As he starts flying into Gotham City, Deadshot is shocked to see that both the Joker and Harley Quinn were also on board. With the Clown Prince of Crime ready to make the kill shot, Lawton ducks in time as the two of them get into a tussle. Harley picks up the handgun, but is unable to fire at her lovers. Suddenly, the helicopter starts to plunge towards a building due to no one being at the controls. As such, she hops into the driver’s seat and steers it away just in time. However, the tail ends up smashing into the building as the chopper starts to malfunction.
Batman catches up in the Batwing and uses his grappling hook to get on board. Suddenly, the chopper goes on a collision coarse towards a skyscraper. As such, he grabs Harley and jumps out. With his grapple gun, they swing back inside as the helicopter finally crashes into the building.
Once inside, the two of them get into a brief fight before Batman knocks Harley out in order to gain possession of her mallet and defuse the Dirty Bomb inside.
Meanwhile, Deadshot and the Joker have their brawl a few floors above. Lawton gets sliced and stabbed several times, but keeps his persistence up. He ultimately defeats the Joker by throwing him back into the downed helicopter and pinning him to the wall via his own knives.
Deadshot then hops off just as the helicopter tips out of the building and starts plummeting towards the ground. Batman is able to defuse the Dirty Bomb just as the crippled aircraft falls past him, accompanied by the Joker’s maniacal laughter. As such, the chopper plunges downwards to a fiery explosion.
The next day, the Dark Knight confronts Waller for knowing that the Suicide Squad wouldn’t ultimately follow her objective and that it was all a ploy to kill the Riddler. She shrugs off Batman, knowing that Task Force X can get started up again and that he’s not enough to remove her from her governmental position. During the conversation, we learn that the Riddler escaped from Arkham and that the Joker’s body was never found in the wreckage.
After Batman takes his leave, the film ends with Waller discovering a targeting beam on herself. It turns out that Deadshot managed to reunite with his daughter Zoe as he sets up a sniper shot from the Gotham Airport. With a final exclamation of “BANG!”, he takes the shot.
Before we dive into any character analysis, critical analysis, or anything of that nature, let’s look at two particular Easter Eggs that both involve Harley Quinn (a.k.a. Everyone’s Favorite Batch Of Crazy). Remember the scene where she’s watching cartoons at the Women’s Halfway House? It turns out that it’s from The Looney Tunes Show, which (like DC Comics) is owned by Warner Brothers. Also, when Harley is going through the Joker’s belongings over at Arkham, one of the first things she finds is a clown’s mask. This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment shows what the Heath Ledger version of the Joker wore during the opening scene of the 2008 Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight. Nice touch.
Now, over to character analysis. Even though this is a Batman film and it’s set in the canon of the Batman: Arkham series, we mainly focus on the exploits of the Suicide Squad. Out of all the members here, we focus in on the field leader, Deadshot.
A few times throughout the film, we notice a certain picture that he keeps at all times. This helps makes his character more likable and relatable where even though he’s an assassin-for-hire, he’s only going through this mission to survive and get one step closer towards that goal. It seems that depending on who hires him, he’s either a villain or an anti-hero. In Gotham Knight, a Russian mob boss hired him to assassinate Gordon. Here, he makes sure that the squad functions well-enough to perform their mission (at least until it starts going really sour). In the end, he’s rewarded by slipping away from both the police & Waller’s custody, gets to be with his daughter again and even gets his revenge on Amanda. Neal McDonough was a good choice for this role. He brings a confident demeanor to Deadshot, helping to being a “serious business” attitude towards the constant-Suicide Squad member who longs to escape control from the higher ups.
Next up, we’ve got the psycho lady herself Harley Quinn. Like Deadshot, she’s also a routine member of the Suicide Squad. Maybe not to the extent as him (due to him being the field leader), but long enough to be something of a veteran. She develops a bit of a relationship with Deadshot early on via some chit-chat before her mental faculties eventually decide in Pre-Mission Bonking. Maybe because of her on-again, off-again abusive relationship with the Joker that she gets some much-needed respect from Lawton. After all, when she’s aiming a handgun while he and her “Puddin'” fight on the helicopter, it seems like she doesn’t want to ruin the bonding she’s built with Deadshot during the mission. Then again, she’ll never hesitate to be with the Joker again despite the abuse. I like Hynden Walch in this role. Even though it already helps her in that she played this role in the TV Show “The Batman”, it definitely feels like what her voice would sound like after developing from the voice of her original actor, Arleen Sorkin. Either way, she delivers the right blend of quirkiness, psychotic, and hilariousness to her character.
Finally, we have the Caped Crusader himself. Even though this is a Batman film and it’s set in the Batman: Arkham series, he spends a good portion of the film away from the audience’s attention as the Suicide Squad are the ones who are front and center. There’s not much to say about the Dark Knight here, except that this version is chronologically fresh off Origins and is on a mad hunt to stop a deadly plan from his eternal arch-nemesis before he ultimately runs into Task Force X at Arkham and ultimately foils the Joker’s scheme. Most likely, it’s because of the abundance of stories that focus on him that we have this change of pace that mainly works. Kevin Conroy is eternally awesome in a role that he’s owned since 1992 and that’s all the character needs here.
Last up, the scale of action scenes feels like it crescendos towards the massive riot at Arkham and the final fights at the highrise building. They’re very competent and even humorous at times. This is greatly helped by fluent animation. I couldn’t find a single moment where there was a lapse of any kind. Meanwhile, the story is engaging enough. Deadshot’s personal dilemma during the mission is the definite driving point of the film, since he gets a huge portion of screen time. Harley also helps the movie work, due to the duel relationship she develops in the movie. Since I’ve never played any of the games that are in this series (ever though I’ve heard really good things about them), I can’t tell how this carries over into the realm of digital entertainment. Nevertheless, she’s really enjoyable here. The rest of the Suicide Squad also have their moments, ranging from brief bits of humor to seeing them trying to work as a team. Killer Frost’s semi-betrayal feels like she’ll do whatever it takes to staying alive in her favor, yet karma ultimately does her in as it takes the form of Bane.
Overall, this film is greatly enjoyable. While it may be too violent and bloody for some, it’s a nicely-written film that serves a fairly simple plot very well. The characters are really good, the animation is solid and the bits of humor gets some much deserved chuckles. I highly recommend this for fans of the video game series and anyone who’s interested in the games, even to those who go into this as a stand-alone film. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Next Time: The world’s greatest heroes united as one and took down a grand foe from beyond the stars. However, their team unity must be greater than ever as a fierce battle will come from the oceanic depths. Allies and enemies take to the surface next time in “Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis”.
Batman (created by by Bob Kane and Bill Finger), Suicide Squad (created by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru & John Ostrander) and all related characters are owned by DC Comics.