On the misrepresentation of June Moon and her alter ego.
I wanted to like Suicide Squad. I wrote a piece about how stoked I was to finally see so many bad ass women super heroes – er, villains – on-screen. The movie’s marketing hype machine pumped up the excitement even more with images of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) stealing the show, Katana (Karen Fukuhara) skillfully wielding her sword, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) acting like a boss, and The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), well, crouching. The Enchantress – or simply Enchantress as she is referred to in the film – wasn’t as present as the other characters in the marketing, suggesting she might be the film’s main villain rather than a member of the Suicide Squad, more formally known as “Task Force X.” Unfortunately, Enchantress, like the film itself, did not live up to the hype.
The origin of Enchantress begins with the archeologist June Moon who climbed the wrong mountain one day and ended up in a cave full of skulls. It is not clear which exotic land she is in or what the history is of the ancient ruins that she stumbles upon is, but we go with it. June finds a statue and for some reason opens it – actually she twists its head off and breaks it, in a way that would make Indiana Jones blush – and out comes a mystical black smoke that turns into a grimy, bikini-clad version of herself that then enters her body and possesses her. This version of Ms. Moon is Enchantress, which she can summon by whispering “Enchantress” in very suggestive ways. Her powers aren’t fully explained but she can do anything from mind control to teleportation.
The tough government figure Amanda Waller recruits Enchantress to join Task Force X. Amanda somehow learns that the way to control Enchantress is by taking her heart hostage in a super secret safety box (not to be confused with her super secret binders marked “TOP SECRET”). She sends a team of officers to dig up the heart in the very same skull cave June fell into. (How they know Enchantress’ heart is even there is beyond anyone’s capacity to explain in this very convoluted script.) The heart looks like a beanie baby with straw attached to it via crazy glue. It is kept in a safety box that only Amanda can access. Amanda stabs the heart every time Enchantress refuses to obey her commands. Needless to say, Enchantress is put through a lot by Amanda that it’s no surprise when she turns on her employer and literally joins – or, more appropriately, creates – the dark side. If someone stabbed your heart enough times, wouldn’t you?
Enchantress is a complex, mystical being, whose powers could perhaps overturn almost everyone on the squad, but her story is glossed over in a quick two-minute montage that serves as the explainer version of her life. June’s relationship with military bro Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) is shown in just a few short scenes with very little dialogue, that it’s hard to feel for June or Rick when Enchantress takes over and goes AWOL. Apart from being pissed off with the heart stabbing or that humans now worship machines instead of supernatural gods, Enchantress is not given enough screen time for us to fully understand the scope of how and why she transforms into a possessed being a la Zuul in Ghostbusters. There’s also the bit about her brother which isn’t really delved into other than he’s basically her fiery protector.
Delevingne tries to command the role of Enchantress but director David Ayer seems to want nothing more than to feature her in one scantily clad outfit after another. When she assumes her total powers, Enchantress swaps her dirty bikini for a cleaner look that shows just as much skin as the first outfit. In her more powerful state, she constantly gyrates her body while controlling her magic aura. She turns men (and women, though we don’t see it) into her evil soldiers made of black goo and pearls by making out with them. Her voice is manipulated to sound deeper and more imposing, but it sounds worse than autotune and doesn’t match Delevigne’s youthful appearance.
There are moments in the film that feel like feminist shout outs – like when Amanda says, “You go girl,” before June heads off on a top secret mission as Enchantress. Or when Harley Quinn tells the dopey prison officer, “I can sleep where I want, when I want, with who I want.” Unfortunately, these are just snappy one-liners, and the female badassery that was teased so blatantly in the marketing was nothing more than a few cool-looking shots that might have found better place in a music video than a movie.
The most exciting part of Suicide Squad turns out not to be Enchantress or the rest of the bad guys, but a quick yet charming cameo by The Flash (Ezra Miller). It’s fast – blink and you’ll miss it – but well worth seeing the goofy and intriguing future Justice Leaguer. If only the same amount of attention and detail could have been placed on Enchantress and the others. I won’t even go into the painfully stereotypical portrayal of Latinos through Diablo (Jay Hernandez) or WTF happened to Slipknot (Adam Beach). Harley Quinn’s treatment in the film is just as problematic as Enchantress, if not more, and I could go on about how most Asian characters in this film were hidden or barely seen. Katana’s mask hides her face, she barely speaks, and her presence in the film is near invisible. Yet, she has the most intriguing, almost poetic back story that includes her husband’s soul being trapped in her freakin’ sword. Now that’s a movie I would want to see.