Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is the upcoming DC Comics animated film that takes place within the DC Animated Movie Universe. The film will be released digitally on March 27th and then released physically on April 10th. In a lead up to the release DC Comics hosted the world premiere of Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay at WonderCon Anaheim 2018. I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere and have several takeaways you should know about it.
Before getting into the review since Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay has not been released to the public there will only be minor spoilers in this review. And those minor reviews will only go over broad plot and character points.
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay deals with Amanda Waller forming a Suicide Squad with Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost, and Copperhead. Waller’s reason for assembly the team is to retrieve a powerful item that puts the Suicide Squad in conflict with several well known DC Comics villains that include Vandal Savage and Zoom.
While the Suicide Squad have become more well known thanks to last year’s live-action movie Hell to Pay does a good job with being new viewer friendly. The movie opens up with a solid introduction that allows the viewer, new or old, understand what the risks the Suicide Squad takes with each mission they are assigned. This opening does a good job using the initial team in an effective way that stays true to who each character is. Though there is one villain that is oddly introduced and forgotten without an explanation as to what happened to him/her after the first mission. That weird omission stands out because of who they are makes them more notable for DC Comics fans.
That said, the opening does a good job establishing Deadshot as the lead character. In establishing Deadshot as the lead it allowed other characters to play off him. That is works well given how Deadshot is a character that viewers can sympathize with given his separation from his daughter being a main driving force for his actions. While Deadshots motivation to be reunited with his daughter is a strong connection the writers and director of Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay do not make that as a way to make him a good guy. Throughout the movie Deadshot is shown to have a lot of villainous traits. Those traits help push how those in the Suicide Squad help in evolving his character during Hell to Pay even stronger.
In setting up Deadshot as the lead character it gave the other characters to shift into more supporting roles. That especially helps a character like Harley Quinn, who is able to use her comedic side to give levity to certain scenes. This makes it so the things that make Harley a lovable character be spotlighted without growing old due to being overdone.
The characters that may surprise some newer fans with the amount of attention they get is Bronze Tiger and Killer Frost. Bronze Tiger’s character arc in Hell to Pay is particularly tied to Deadshot. The two characters similarities and difference helps the viewer connect to each of them. This makes their respective payoffs come off even stronger than if they didn’t interact as much as they did. On the other end, Killer Frost arc, while not as intense, does a good job at playing of the villain version of the character and showing what makes the way she uses her powers look cool. What she ends up doing when we get to the final act of the movie was a nice surprise to shake up what fans may have expected from the last major location this movie is set in.
Where the movie is isn’t as strong is with how it balances the two main antagonist in the form of Vandal Savage and Zoom. While not giving anything away Zoom is by far the better of the two from a compelling standpoint. Zoom’s involvement in the plot is helped a lot as the reason he is doing what he does is directly tied into the recent Flashpoint film within the DC Animated Movie Universe. That payoff will make a lot of fans of this Universe happy to see with how it is integrated.
Not as well off is how Vandal Savage is portrayed as one of the villains of the story. His involvement could have honestly been taken out of the story and it wouldn’t have mattered outside how he adds to the runtime. And that is all Vandal Savage seems to be used for as the Suicide Squad vs Zoom could’ve been resolved within 60 minutes. Vandal just ends up adding an extra 30 minutes of what amounts to being a distraction to the Suicide Squad’s mission.
While I won’t say how he is involved in the story, Doctor Fate’s story is head scratching. Fans of the character may actually be frustrated with how Doctor Fate is used in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay. It partially felt like they had another magic user in mind but because of Doctor Fate’s power level they used him in place to introduce a big plot point.
Overall Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is an enjoyable movie. This movie does a good job at using past DC animated movies to enhance the Suicide Squad’s battle with Zoom. Deadshot and Bronze Tiger are standout characters in the movie that help make up for the weakness in the story, which are mostly centered around Vandal Savage and Doctor Fate’s use. If you are a Suicide Squad fan this is a movie you will want to add to your collection. For others, as long as you are a DC Comics fan Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is worth at least renting to give it a watch when you have a chance.