Return with us to the wonderful world of Suicide Squad, that rag-tag gang of villains and thugs and baddies that Amanda Waller put together as a last resort, to do the kind of nasty missions only scum are best at.
Though never called Suicide Squad, oh no, Waller (Vanessa Williams) refers to them as Task Force X. And the task force of cobbled-together villains has apparently had all kinds of different members at different times, for separate increasingly-difficult missions. Like the one we begin the movie with, where Waller sends Count Vertigo (Jim Pirri), Deadshot, Black Manta (Dave Fennoy), and crime couple Punch (Trevor Devall) and Jewelee (Julie Nathanson), after a thumb drive of leaked information on the career criminal Tobias Whale (Dave Fennoy). (Whom hopefully most of you will recognize as the main crime-lord in the new hit show Black Lightning) Still not entirely sure why this mission was included first, unless it was to underline Waller and Floyd Lawton (Christian Slater) a.k.a. Deadshot’s working relationship.
Fast forward awhile, and hey Waller’s discovered she’s terminally ill. Time to bring together another Task Force X, bringing Deadshot along for the ride but also adding some newer faces – Copperhead (Gideon Emery), the body-mod freak with the prehensile tail; the charmingly Australian veteran Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre); Killer Frost (Kristen Bauer van Straten), but trust me, not the one you know from the CW show; everyone’s favorite psycho-Betty Harley Quinn (Tara Strong); and grunting religious dude Bronze Tiger (Billy Brown). Their mission, should they choose to accept it and really they don’t have much choice, is to find a man calling himself Steel Maxum and retrieve the mystical black playing card emblazoned ‘Get Out Of Hell Free’.
After embarking on what has to be the worst road trip ever, all stuck together in an RV vehicle, the newfangled Task Force X comes across Maxum shaking his money-maker in a club, and of course nothing would do but have a giant fight against other bad guys who want Steel too! Professor Zoom (C. Thomas Howell), Silver Banshee (Julie Nathanson) and some schmo called Blockbuster (Dave Fennoy), they want Steel and thus the hell-card for their own, as do Scandal Savage (Dania Ramirez), Vandal Savage’s daughter, and her girlfriend Knockout (Cissy Jones), a rogue Fury from Apokolips. Whew! Everybody got that? Onward!
Why is everyone chasing after the ridiculous Maxum Steel (Greg Grunberg), thinking he has the black card? Well, he used to. Somehow, fans and friends and odds and ends, this smarmy dude ended up as a Dr. Fate, but a night of rick-rolling from Scandal and Knockout ended up with a missing get out of hell free card and a job firing from some entity called Nabu.
What does it all have to do with the price of cheese? More or less explained, having possession of the card when you die, allows one in theory to bypass Hell altogether and go straight to Heaven. But there’s no real way to test it, and for some reason a 50k+-year-old caveman believes in Hell, even perhaps moreso than he believes in love, or loyalty for that matter. Vandal Savage (Jim Pirri) never quite understood that how he treats the women in his life almost always, inexplicably at least to his mind, result in his downfall.
After figuring out what the mission is actually about, our Suiciders all have their own opinions about Heaven, and Hell, and the possibilities of going to either one, or if either one even exists at all. Despite his prickly exterior and stubborn religious doctrine, Bronze Tiger manages to keep his head clear and do the job he was assigned to, for the most part. Circumstances change, plans change, and one has to be able to roll with it, even if you’re a villain on a covert government assignment.
Or are we? We all know what Waller wants the card for, and our Squaders all agree, she’s the last person who deserves to have it. So who does, if anyone? Not Vandal Savage, that guy’s lived way too long as it is. Zoom has his own problems, always mucking about with other universes and timelines as he does, and that old expression, ‘I need that like I need a hole in the head’ isn’t funny anymore in his case.
Killer Frost and Professor Pyg are both self-possessed and unconcerned with other planes of existence, they don’t deserve it either. The choice eventually comes down to Deadshot himself, and what he does with the card in the end may surprise those of you who think he’s nothing but a villainous assassin. Lawton has done plenty of bad things, there’s no argument there, but his love for his daughter Zoe will outweigh any other influence and tip him in the even semi-right direction.
The movie itself is a great fun little romp of lots of bad and not-so-bad-but-hey-still-bad guys and dolls all kicking the snot out of each-other. One could even posit that the voice actors of Hell to Pay sounded like they had a lot more fun than the real-life actors of the feature film, the predecessor. Moments of quality time are paid to each character so that a more even spread of story runs throughout the animated film, and the one-liners or even Copperhead moments where he just hisses and scares people, are great wacky fun.
Come join Task Force X, I mean, Suicide Squad, in their latest incarnation, Suicide Squad Hell to Pay, on DVD and Blu-ray now! And catch the mayhem on the HBOMax Channel!