SCOTUS Reviews: Suicide Squad

BREYER, J. delivered the review of the court in which ROBERTS, C.J., and GINSBERG, KENNEDY, ALITO, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.  THOMAS, J. filed a dissenting opinion.  ZOMBIE SCALIA, J. filed a dissenting opinion[1].

Justice Breyer delivered the review of the court.

Suicide Squad allows this court to revisit the age-old question that continually haunts this court: does a really shittily-presented film containing somewhat interesting themes warrant a positive review?  We hold that it does not.


The basic facts of Suicide Squad are not in dispute[2].  In the wake of Batman v. Superman, a top secret government program led by Amanda Waller assembles a group of supervillains to combat further metahuman threats.  The team, aptly called the “Suicide Squad,” consists of dad-friendly hitman Deadshot; sociopath-but-loves-him-anyway Harley Quinn; clean and to the point Col. Flagg; oppressed for the color of his skin and proclivity for eating people Killer Cros; boomerang-wielding Capt. Boomerang; and smart-mouthed former gang member El Diablo.  After a sorceress-goddess and her brother-god torch Middle City, the Suicide Squad is deployed to rescue a V.I.P. who is later revealed to be Waller herself.  In the course of rescuing Waller, the Squad realizes how they are expendable cogs in the service of a greater fight; namely, that of an oppressive, domineering government bent on controlling the masses and ancient godlike-entities similarly trying to corral and control human thoughts and freedoms.  The penultimate fight between control by machine by the government and control by machine by the ancient gods ends in the latter’s downfall, thus re-instantiating American imperialism at the expense of non-white deities. While neither system of power is portrayed positively, it is clear that both represent a means of control which ought to be resisted.  This, however, clearly is at odds with an earlier scene in which the sorceress unveils the Squad’s deepest fantasies, a scene which presents sociopathy as a mere means toward achieving decidedly bourgeois goals, desires, and hopes.

We went and saw the movie on a Friday night with the President and Margot Robbie in attendance.  We decided to hold off our review until out of the presence of Ms. Robbie and the President, both of whom enjoyed the movie thoroughly.


“It is emphatically the duty and province of the judicial branch to say what shit is dope and what shit is whack.”  In re Frankenstein, 1 Cranch 14 (1818) (Opinion of Marshall, J. dissenting). Regarding action movies, this court has identified five factors to guide our recommendations: (1) the degree of awesomeness; (2) the editing; (3) the script; (4) the special effects; and (5) the “Arnold factor”.  In re The Matrix, 901 Action 540 (1999); In re Goldfinger, 451 Action 4, (1962); In re A Nicholas Cage Film We Forgot the Name Of, 809 Action 76 (2012); In re Total Recall, 876 Action 55 (1990). When reviewing action movies, we do not consider the actors’ performances.  See In re Ride ‘Em Cowboy, 125 Western 317 (1940) (“One need not act to produce top notch action.”) (Opinion of Jackson, J., concurring).

It is not disputed that the dialog in Suicide Squad is absolute garbage.  After knowing his fellow Squad members for approximately three hours, El Diablo blurts out, “I’m not losing another family!”  Nobody in the theater except for Barack laughed once during the movie, and the run time was at least two hours.  To be honest, I fell asleep, but I had also consumed around four beers.  We have previously held that alcohol during a movie does not affect our standard of review.  See In re Toxic Avenger, 671 Action 831 (1984).  “Some movies … you just gotta be fucked up for.” Opinion of Rehnquist, J., concurring.

It is not disputed that the movie was probably edited by a thirteen year old chimpanzee. Somehow, scenes simultaneously manage to feel both far too long and far too short.  Imagine sitting down to a five-course meal where the waiter grabs away your appetizer and replaces it with a dessert ten times throughout the meal.  Now also imagine that during the meal the restaurant blares “House of the Rising Sun” over the loudspeakers.  That, in the opinion of this court, is Suicide Squad.

It is also not disputed that the special effects are “not on par with a reasonably constituted action movie of the same or similar era.”  In re The Last Airbender, 780 Action 215 (2010).  During the penultimate battle between the Squad and Sorceress, the latter looks almost drunk as she sways from side to side to a tune perhaps only she can hear.  The image looks more fake than Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker and just as irritatingly overdone.

Lastly, it is not disputed that Arnold does not appear in Suicide Squad.  Thus, none of the factors this court uses to recommend an action movie apply to Suicide Squad.  This does not, however, end our analysis.


Regarding superhero movies, this court has identified additional factors for review: (1) the costumes; (2) the number of times a character manifests a “power” or a motivation relating to the “greater good”; (3) the degree to which the colors cause a reasonably constituted person to say, “Wow!”; (4) the nostalgia factor; and (5) other compelling reasons.

Factors (1) and (3) weigh in favor of recommending Suicide Squad.  Both Deadshot and Killer Croc had rocking cool costumes.  When Deadshot shot a bunch of evil zombie things with Glocks tied to his wrists, we noted an audible ‘wow’ rippled through the crowd.  Although we did not agree with the costume choices for Harley Quinn and the Joker, we note that these costume choices received “aplomb” by critics and others in the media.

None of the other factors weigh in favor of recommending Suicide Squad.  The character’s motivations relating to the greater good are “trite” and “not grounded in the reality with which they have hitherto been presented.” See In re Daredevil, 44 Superhero 81 (2003).

Additionally, although we note that Suicide Squad contains some interesting themes relating to the nature of power and control in a modern society, these themes do not overcome “the manner in which they are presented” because “[p]resentation of themes is as, if not more, important that the themes themselves.”  Id. at 83.

Accordingly, this court does not recommend that you, your date, or your friend ever watch Suicide Squad.  Instead, considering taking your “squad” to watch a Supreme Court oral argument.  And dress up!  Fans who dress up get a 50% off coupon to Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

It is so reviewed.

Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.

As I previously stated in In re Fern Gully, 132 Animation 420 (1992), I do not believe that the Constitution affords this branch the power to review films or issue any opinions about the merits of art in general.  Rather, that power belongs exclusively to the people.  In re Austin Powers, 121 Spy 542 (1997). The people are the “sole source … that sacred fount from which we can safely enumerate how much Ben Hur sucks . . . .” In re Beauty and the Beast, 113 Animation 171 (1991) (Scalia, J., dissenting).  With no binding authority, however, I will say that I quite enjoyed Suicide Squad, especially when El Diablo turned into a fire demon.  That was kickin’ rad.

For the foregoing reasons, I respectfully dissent.

Zombie Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion.

If to decide Suicide Squad is not to describe it, then I am not a brain devouring zombie.  Today, the majority brazenly holds that no one in the Free World who may be interested in zombies, or zombie motivations, or the completely and utterly unique treatment of zombies in Suicide Squad should see a movie in which zombies are heavily featured.

Look at how quickly the court dismisses the fact that this movie heavily features zombies.  Indeed, Suicide Squad features a veritable army of zombies on a scale not seen since the sixth season of The Walking Dead.  In In re Walking Dead, Season 6, 1003 Horror 31 (2015), a great justice wrote: “only by understanding the zombies can we truly understand ourselves.”  (Opinion of Scalia, J.).

Contrary to the majority’s insipid characterization of Suicide Squad as a movie about “governments” and “gods” and “control,” the focus on Suicide Squad is really the struggle of man against zombie.  While we do not know what category of zombies we are dealing with, we can safely say that they are zombies.  If it’s true that it is “the province and duty of the judicial branch to say what shit is dope and what shit is whack” then the majority today is just plain wrong.

What will the majority tell their zombie-movie loving friends when they see them on the street?  Will they mention the zombies?  Will they speak with fondness at all the zombie stomping wonders that so entranced them at the theater?  No.  The majority will only prattle on about the tension between form and content while the rest of us will continue to love what we love because we love it.

For these reasons, I strongly dissent, and will continue to recommend Suicide Squad to all my zombie friends.

[1] Please see applicable rules about citing a zombie decision.  In particular, See In re Chorl!  CHORL!?, 125 Walking Dead 550 (2012); Romero v. Boyle, 415 Zomb. 28 (2005).

[2] To the extent Justice Alito characterizes Suicide Squad as a “film which defies classification,” this court has previously rejected anti-classificatory formalism as “empty dribble.” See In re Bridge on the River Kwai, 178 World War II 918 (1962).  See also R. Clinton, “If I can’t Hear You, That Means Spielberg Can’t Hear You,” ASU Law Review, 2001.


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