'Good' bad guys risky idea

By Kristen Page-Kirby

Viola Davis, as Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad, says fighting evil with evil is the "only way". But there's never an "only" way. Photo / AP
Viola Davis, as Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad, says fighting evil with evil is the "only way". But there's never an "only" way. Photo / AP

There are two major themes in Suicide Squad. The first is that, for many women to be costumed effectively in comic book movies, it's important that they get regular bikini waxes. The second is that "bad guy" is a relative term.

In the DC Comics-based Suicide Squad, shady government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) rounds up a bunch of criminals - some with superpowers, most with super-skills, along with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), apparently included just because she's bonkers - to have on hand as defenders in case someone with Superman-like powers turns out to be not so super. "It's the only way," Waller intones.

I am no sage, but there is one thing I am sure of: There is never an "only way". "Only way" is tricky, too, as it's often a solution based on fear. And decisions based on fear are the ones we screw up the most: I'm scared I'll never get married, so this person is good enough. I'm scared of what this lump could be, so I'm not going to the doctor.

Off the movie goes into the grey area of superhero-dom. The problem with grey areas is it's pretty hard to tell when grey goes to black. Actions that are despicable in the light - squad members' previous activities include murder for hire and murder for fun, - are now acceptable because they're covered by a government-sponsored covert stamp of approval.

Waller's argument - that the only way to fight monsters is to become monsters - is dangerously wrong, because it lacks any safeguards.

In Suicide Squad, the approach pays off. The good bad guys win. But in the real world, where we have our own bad guys we can use for good - be they technology which can rain fire from the sky or "enhanced interrogation" techniques - we don't know that our choice to use evil for good will save the day. We have to look at our capability to descend into darkness and ask: How low can we get before we destroy what we were fighting to preserve?

- Washington Post

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