4 Ways The Joker's Story Is Better In The 'Suicide Squad' Official Novel
Whether you're looking for more character development or simply more of Jared Leto's version of the Joker, the novel companion has you covered.
It's been 5 years since the release of David Ayer's Suicide Squad. Crazy to think, but since then we've seen the DC Extended Universe crumble into oblivion, Harley Quinn go on her own, and Task Force X rebooted with James Gunn at the helm. We all had high hopes for Suicide Squad, and a lot of those hopes went unfulfilled with Jared Leto's version of the Joker.
So why not take a trip down memory lane?
If you were left feeling like you wanted more from Suicide Squad, it might be time for you to hop onto Amazon and pick up a book that will no doubt fill in a lot of gaps. Longtime DC Comics writer Marv Wolfman adapted Suicide Squad director David Ayer's original script to give us Suicide Squad: The Official Movie Novelization that was released along with the movie in 2016. And yes, it is better than the movie.
Whether you're looking for more character development, more explanation regarding villains and enemies, or simply just more of Jared Leto's version of the Joker, the novel has you covered. If you wanted to like Suicide Squad like I did, you'll feel that the book version redeems the movie a bit. Trust me. Here's why...
1. There Is a Lot More Joker
It's no secret that Suicide Squad left a lot to be desired, specifically regarding Jared Leto's version of the Joker. Although there was a big marketing push for the character, there are maybe eight minutes of screen time from the Clown Prince himself. Luckily the same can't be said regarding the novelization.
A lot of the novelization's scenes featuring the Joker are likely scenes that were cut out of the movie, but there's no way of knowing for sure what could have (or should have) been there unless we ever get the "Ayer Cut" of Suicide Squad. The bottom line is, there is a lot more of the Joker in the book, and these extended scenes do a lot to fill in the gaps that the movie left us with.
Here are some examples:
- The Joker is a bit more clever in the book. While the movie implies that his henchmen do a lot of the killing for him, the book relays a lot of cases of him killing people on his own and justifying murder in his head.
- The Van Criss Labs break-in is expanded in the book, as there's more interaction between the Joker and Dr. Van Criss.
- There is a lot more interaction and dialogue between the Joker and Jonny Frost.
- The "chemical wedding" sequence is extended and features more dialogue between the Joker and Dr. Quinzel. There is also an inner monologue told from the Joker's point of view after Harleen dives into the vat of chemicals.
- How the Joker escapes the helicopter crash alive is explained.
2. The Joker and Harley Quinn's Relationship Is More Accurate to the Source Material
"It would have never worked. She kept trying to fix me."
This is one aspect of Suicide Squad that has gained a lot of criticism. There have been rumors for months regarding why the Joker's scenes were edited or cut altogether, and all signs pointed to the fact that test audiences responded negatively to the dynamic between him and Harley Quinn. Despite a rich history of domestic violence, Suicide Squad mostly shows a desperate, lovesick version of the Joker doing everything he can to reunite with his girlfriend. This includes bribing the Belle Reve "Alpha" into giving Harley a cell phone, hijacking her from the grip of Amanda Waller using a stolen helicopter, and breaking into Belle Reve to take her home to Gotham City.
Although these events do also exist in the book, there is a lot more interaction between the Joker and Harley Quinn that paints a more accurate picture of their relationship. In other words, the Joker is pretty mean to Harley in the book.
For example, the movie gives us the impression that it was a smooth transition from the days in Arkham Asylum to Harley becoming the Joker's criminal partner. After that, it must have been a blissful life of crime for the two. Well, that's what the movie led us to believe, but the book takes things down a different road.
Let's focus on the scene between the Joker and Monster T. It is similar to the movie in the sense that the Joker seems to use Harley Quinn to tease Monster T after he dares to look at her dance for longer than a few seconds. Here are some key differences between the movie and book.
In the movie, the Joker whistles for Harley Quinn to join him and Monster T, and "gifts" her to him, only to be visibly jealous seconds later. The book shows the Joker teasing Monster T about Harley; upon gifting her to him, he gives Monster T his gun and asks him to kill her because he's sick of her. Ultimately, Monster T uses the Joker's gun to kill himself, knowing that he was dead either way. The movie shows the Joker killing Monster T to teach a lesson.
We don't see the aftermath of Monster T's death in the movie, other than the Joker and Harley Quinn zipping through the streets of Gotham in his "Jokermobile." The book shows the Joker getting angry with Harley for being so physically tempting and causing the death of one of his most profitable clients:
"Don't touch me. This is on you. You know that guy made me a lot of money. We're leaving.""Puddin', It's not my fault I make myself look so good for you other guys can only wish an' stare 'cause they're so jealous. I mean, you should think of it as them honoring your great taste in babes -- and I am your babe, aren't I, honey?""Yeah, you are, but you keep pushing me, and one'a these days you're going to cross the line, Harley."
3. Speaking Of The Car Chase...
This is another event that differs a bit. In the movie, we have a quick flash of the Joker doing what he does best and leaving Harley for dead so he can escape Batman. Seeing how we got this car chase teased in 2015, it can be assumed that it was one of many scenes trimmed down for the theatrical release.
According to the book, the Joker is not only still arguing with Harley over Monster T (and the deaths of several other clients), but she is egging him on to drive faster and be more reckless than he approves of. The Joker even goes far enough to say that he'd rather drive the car into a wall because he's tired of dealing with her. That is, until he sees the Batmobile in his rear-view mirror. Harley increases the risk of death by unbuckling her seatbelt (to the Joker's disapproval) and is eventually thrown through the windshield as her Puddin' drives the car into the bay, just like in the movie.
A tidbit the book also explains why Batman rescues Harley Quinn from drowning:
"Why the favor, Bats?"
"Joker took something important away from me. It's my turn."
I guess it's safe to say Batman is still pretty bitter about losing Robin.
4. The Joker's Full Escape from Arkham
The movie does show a glimpse of the day that the Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum. After gleefully asking Dr. Quinzel for a machine gun during a therapy session, the scene flashes to the Joker's henchmen opening fire on Arkham guards, and the Joker himself capturing his beloved Harleen for some electroshock therapy. Although we do manage to see him shock her, a majority of his escape from Arkham and the aftermath was left on the cutting room floor.
The book reveals a lot by giving us a whole chapter dedicated to the Joker's escape from Arkham. After Jonny Frost captures Dr. Quinzel, the Joker goes into great detail as to why he has chosen to betray the doctor who did just about anything to help him. The catch is, he didn't perceive her endless efforts as help.
"I'm sure you thought electrifying my brains was the best way to fix all my many problems. But I've got to ask you a question, Doctor. Did it ever cross your itty-bitty brain that maybe you could spend just a little extra time and come up with a better solution than churning my gray matter into instant pudding?"
The Joker chooses to mess with Dr. Quinzel's mind before physically hurting her, and uses electroshock therapy as payback for what she repeatedly did to him. And unlike the picture the movie paints, she's not necessarily excited about it. The Joker's teasing and torture actually seem to scare Harleen and is used as a starting point for her madness. Granted, she does wind up enjoying the shocks after all is said and done, but without putting on a brave face from the start like in the movie.
For me personally, I really enjoyed the novelization. It's even fair to say that I liked the book more than I liked the movie. I found that it answered a lot of questions I was left with after seeing Suicide Squad, including many that don't involve the Joker.
In the movie, we don't really learn exactly what the squad is being sent into Midway City to fight. This is further hinted at when they comprise a plan to overthrow Rick Flag, but quickly abandon it after encountering strange, zombie-like creatures in the streets. Admittedly, this is when the movie picks up and we get to see the "bad guys" in action, but that doesn't change the fact that we never really find out what was going on. It doesn't help that these creatures don't show up in any existing DC Comics arcs, either.
This is where the novelization fills in a lot of gaps regarding the army created by Enchantress. The creatures are actually the Eyes of the Adversary (EA) and they essentially are former citizens of Midway City who have been transformed. At one point, Harley Quinn and Boomerang realize one of the EAs they destroyed was wearing civilian clothing, complete with fancy jewelry. It's worth noting that even the "bad guys" team is capable of feeling a bit uncomfortable about the fact that they're basically killing people.
The book also gives us a proper introduction to a lot of characters that didn't really get that courtesy in the movie, such as Scott Eastwood's Lieutenant Edwards (a.k.a., GQ), who is the guy in charge of the Navy SEAL team brought in to assist Rick Flag and Task Force X. As the battle goes on, we see and hear a lot more from GQ which definitely can't be said for the movie. I might have just missed it, but I don't recall being introduced to Eastwood's character in Suicide Squad. He was treated as expendable, and it's a shame because he's an awesome character in the book.
There is even more development for Enchantress and Incubus. The first three chapters of the book are dedicated to Dr. June Moone's excursions resulting in her possession by the Enchantress, which is a development that we barely see in the movie. The development and explanation we receive for the villains in the book set up a much smoother story and actually inform us of what's going on.
Also, it seemed to fill a void I had from just wanting more from the movie in general. I wanted more explanation, more development, and more from these characters that we all fell in love with during the marketing campaign. This book gave me just about everything that I was looking for after walking out of the theater with my head shaking in disappointment.
Basically, Suicide Squad: The Official Movie Novelization is the story we should have gotten with Suicide Squad. It's even a possibility that it's the movie we would have gotten prior to the test screenings that forced re-shoots and multiple different edits of the film, but that's still just speculation. We hoped that Warner Bros. learned its lesson from this experience and would have grown the DC Extended Universe in a positive way. The tools were all there. It's just a matter of proper execution that wasn't put into play. Oh well.