The Suicide Squad First Reviews: Hysterically Funny, Brilliantly Acted, And So Entertainingly Gory It Makes "Deadpool Look Kind of Sweet"

With memorable characters – including the best Harley Quinn we've seen on screen yet – and more heart and smarts than you might expect, James Gunn's DC debut is a big hit with critics.

by | July 28, 2021 | Comments

The Suicide Squad

(Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics)

Margot Robbie recently praised James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad as possibly “the greatest comic book movie ever made.” Of course, she is biased since she plays Harley Quinn in the DC supervillain team-up, but a lot of critics are near in agreement with the actress. The first reviews of the movie make it out to be at least one of the most entertaining movies of this year — if your idea of entertainment is extremely R-rated gore and humor with a good balance of heart.

Here’s what critics are saying about The Suicide Squad:

Is this really one of the best comic book movies ever?

“One of the best live-action comic book adaptations yet.” – Nicola Austin, We Have a Hulk

“The most fun and least depressing superhero movie in a very long time.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“How is James Gunn one of the only people that actually seems to know how to make a comic book movie feel like it was built out of a comic book?” – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine

“While there have been no shortage of iconic films based on elements from DC Comics, The Suicide Squad is one of the first to genuinely aspire to be a ‘comic book movie.’” – Jenna Anderson,

Where does it fall in the DC movie canon?

“The best DCEU movie yet.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“It’s Warner Bros’ best DC film of this newer post-Nolan epoch…it feels like the beginning of a new era with much potential.” – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

“It’s honestly the best film from DC since releasing Wonder Woman in 2017.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

The Suicide Squad most directly shakes off the baggage of the DCEU, especially considering that it shares a title and a team with one of its most maligned entries.” – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine

What if you didn’t like the previous Suicide Squad?

“It’s a far cry from – and an unbelievably vast improvement on – 2016’s Suicide Squad.” – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

“I couldn’t imagine liking — and could barely stomach the idea of seeing — another movie called ‘Suicide Squad.’ I’m delighted to be proven wrong.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“I can’t think of another movie quite as dreadful…as Suicide Squad, then to have a sequel that is as well made and, frankly, competent as The Suicide Squad.” – Mike Ryan, Uproxx

“Here is the edgy, sardonic adventure filled with witty characters and eclectic needle drops that the first Squad was supposed to be.” – Matt Singer, Screen Crush

The Suicide Squad

(Photo by Jessica Miglio/™ & © DC Comics)

But do you need to see that movie first?

“It would help people know some of the characters in the sequel. On the other hand, people who watch the first movie are not going to want to watch another one.” – Mike Ryan, Uproxx

“It rewards returning fans while being accessible to new or casual viewers. As a result, The Suicide Squad is a delicious, deviant and delightful watch for everyone.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

Is it just like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie but R-rated?

“To his credit, Gunn doesn’t simply repeat the Guardians of the Galaxy formula.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“It feels like a happy medium between the all-ages workplace comedy of the Guardians movies and the snarky misanthropy of his heroic satire Super.” – Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

“This comic-book based feature takes a decidedly different tone with its smart, enlightened sentiments. It doesn’t move or breathe like his previous projects.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

The Suicide Squad

(Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics)

Is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn better in this one?

“While there’s no Birds of Prey references, this is definitely the new, improved Harley and she’s a much stronger character for it.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“Robbie, now so at home in the role of Harley Quinn, gets to continue her narrative of self-actualization begun in her spin-off outing.” – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

“We get to see a different side of her character…she’s not only a scene-stealer but carries the whole damn movie.” – Zehra Phelan, HeyUGuys

“This is hands down Robbie’s best performance as Harley, and the best written and directed Harley seen on the screen to date.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Are there any other character standouts?

“The prize for the single funniest character might go to Nathan Fillion’s T.D.K., who seems destined for internet meme stardom.” – Matt Singer, Screen Crush

“You’ll want to adopt King Shark.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“King Shark and Ratcatcher will likely emerge as fan-favourites, but it’s honestly impossible to single out a weak link, due in no small part to the excellent performances.” – Mark Cassidy,

“Daniela Melchior delivers a star-making performance as Ratcatcher 2, carrying some of the film’s most poignant moments and its weirdest superhero gimmick with ease.” – Jenna Anderson,

“So many characters only get brief moments to communicate who they are but dare I say, not even one of them doesn’t feel fully fleshed out.” – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

The Suicide Squad

(Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics)

How is the monstrous villain, Starro?

“Starro totally delivers as an off the wall villain. Leave it to James Gunn to take a giant alien starfish, make it a villain, and not have it look ridiculous. Starro looks TERRIFYING.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

“It’s actually difficult to imagine a more perfect antagonist for this film. Equal parts preposterous and terrifying.” – Mark Cassidy,

“Not only glorious to behold in an ‘am I really seeing this?’ way, but [it] also comes complete with some subversive twists that few other mainstream comic book movies would go near.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“The movie joins the ranks of those spectacular but slightly absurd neo-kaiju movies in which the towering monster that fills the screen is candy for the child in you.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Just how funny is the movie?

“It ought to be illegal just how hysterical The Suicide Squad is.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“The most hilariously funny feature of the year.” – JimmyO, Jo Blo’s Movie Emporium

The Suicide Squad is the sort of movie where comedy accompanies brutality, leading — at its best moments — to combinations of screaming and laughing.” – Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

“Much of the best and most enjoyable comedy comes from the Bloodsport’s exasperation.” – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man in The Suicide Squad

(Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics)

Just how violent does it get?

“This is the most insanely violent superhero blockbuster yet, making Deadpool look kind of sweet.” – Brian Tallerico,

The Suicide Squad is brutal in such a way that I started to feel my limits for gross-out violence being tested…[but] never in danger of getting bored.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“No wilder than the sort of the thing you got in Deadpool or the more outré parts of The Dark Knight, but driven by an invigorating embrace of f**k-it-all no-futureness.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Never in a million years would I have guessed some of the most disgustingly gory scenes in a film could be so freaking beautiful at the same time.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Is it more than just a bloodbath?

“The violence and the outrageousness alone aren’t what makes The Suicide Squad tick – it’s Gunn’s understanding of the transgressive power of the outsider figure.” – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent

“The finale reveals a picture with much more on its mind than you would’ve ever expected.” – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

(Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics)

Will we end up caring who lives and dies?

“It’s clear that Gunn cares for each of these characters, bringing to The Suicide Squad some of the earnest empathy that he honed in his Guardians movies.” – Hoai-Tran Bui, Slashfilm

“It has actual stakes. Characters actually die…which adds a sense of worry and dread for the characters we find ourselves latching onto.” – Mike Ryan, Uproxx

“Yes, some deaths are inherently funnier than others, but there’s also genuine emotion in some of the exits that few comic book movies manage.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“James Gunn also knows that behind every tidal wave of blood is a beating heart; character deaths mean nothing if you don’t care about them.” – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

“And when there isn’t the character development to make a death impactful, Gunn uses the film’s R-rating to ensure it packs a punch – to the gut, if not the heart.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

Are there any problems at all?

“Gunn’s latest creation is not without moments that drag, but when it pops, it pops brilliantly.” – Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

“You certainly feel a bit of whiplash with the breakneck pace and constant jumps between horror, comedy and drama.” – Nicola Austin, We Have a Hulk

“One too many flashbacks lead to a disjointed feeling, not added interest as the device would suggest. Pacing is a bit of an issue.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

The Suicide Squad

(Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics)

Does it end with a bang?

The Suicide Squad finishes strong…the rare superhero movie where the third act is actually its best.” – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

“Perhaps I’m overestimating its final act’s prowess, but the comics fan inside was giddy with excitement.” – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

“The third act feels like most other superhero third acts and it clumsily sets up its requisite future projects.” – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine

Will this go down as one of the most memorable comic book blockbusters?

The Suicide Squad is sure to end 2021 as the year’s most entertaining blockbuster.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“[It’s] the most bizarre mainstream blockbuster of all time.” – Mark Cassidy,

The Suicide Squad is in theaters and available on HBO Max from Friday August 6, 2021.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

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