The Suicide Squad uses “People Who Died” as a mission statement (2023)

This article discusses the plot of The Suicide Squad

When James Gunn announced that he was going to be bringing some much-needed Guardians Of The Galaxy energy to the flailing (and arguably failing) DC Extended Universe, it seemed like a killer soundtrack was a given. Gunn’s poptimist approach to superhero movies had felt like an influence on the first Suicide Squad’s supposed re-edit, leading to a film filled to the brim with forced needle drops that couldn’t find its rhythm. To say that Suicide Squad missed Gunn’s wit and taste would be an understatement. DC and Warner Bros. failed to recreate the success of the director’s first Guardians film, so why not just go for the genuine article with film two?


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Gunn’s ability to place pop perfection amid the carnage and bombast of superhero spectacle is one of his great talents, and nowhere is that more explicit than in The Suicide Squad’s opening credit sequence. The scene leading to the credits is a bait-and-switch. Gunn builds up energy via a standard-issue covert op beach battle, a generic superhero score, a cast of fan favorites (including Gunn company players Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker), and an on-the-nose Johnny Cash hit. But when the film’s first CGI creation, Weasel—who very easily could’ve been a breakout star à la Groot or King Shark—dives out of an airplane and drowns, the audience learns that no one’s particularly safe in front of Gunn’s camera. As each member of that Suicide Squad is torn apart, the opening credits kick in with the purest expression of the director’s vision: a graveyard of dead supervillains set to the sounds of The Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died.” No track could be more perfect. Like Carroll’s song, The Suicide Squad treats the horrors of human life and the violence of the modern world with exuberance, joy, and fun, a fitting commentary on the world-ending theatrics of superhero cinema if there ever was one. Gunn’s more willing to lean into our bloodthirsty predilections than other superhero movie directors.

The late poet, writer, and musician Jim Carroll is probably best known as the author of the memoir The Basketball Diaries, later turned into an early Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle. The Basketball Diaries chronicles Carroll’s life between the ages of 12 and 15 when he was a promising basketball player, small-time miscreant, and heroin addict in New York City’s once grimy Lower East Side. In 1980, Carroll released his first album, Catholic Boy, a raucous punk gem that found fans in Keith Richards, Lou Reed, and Patti Smith. Playing on the same themes of his memoir and poetry, which mostly detailed his turbulent adolescence, Catholic Boy is sometimes referred to as the “last great punk album”—though, it’s unclear who said this or why anyone, including this writer, keeps repeating it. But “People Who Died” sounds like it could be the last great New York punk song (even though it wasn’t). “People Who Died” gave off a whiff of Taxi Driver during an era when New York was starting to smell a little different. In a 1981 review for Rolling Stone, critic Ken Tucker wrote, “[Carroll] lets the band set the breakneck pace, then speeds after them, shouting a list of the names of his comrades who’ve shuffled off this hot-plate coil: ‘They were all my friends–and they died!’ he gulps. The absence of both sentimentality and ornamental imagery lends the song an edge of shocking humor.”


The Suicide Squad is far from the first film to use the song. One of its earliest appearances came just a few years after its release when Steven Spielberg included it in E.T. While it does foreshadow the danger that Elliott (Henry Thomas) and his friends would face later in the film, the charming story of a boy and his beer-swilling alien might not be the best venue for the tune. Honestly, the song, for all its direct messaging, is rarely used appropriately. It was even wasted in the film about Carroll. The Basketball Diaries drops an abridged version of “People Who Died” into an expressionistic, rain-drenched scene on the court. Unlike Gunn, the film’sdirector Steve Kalevert opted for Catholic Boy’s lower-key title track as the soundtrack for the opening credits and pretty much doomed the movie as a result. Mr. Robot, a show that’s underrated in terms of its needle drops, gets a lot of mileage out of the song, using it to play over a montage of the cast burning evidence. That works best because “People Who Died” is most comfortable among mischief and murder.

Just as the song pays unsympathetic tribute to the dead, so too does The Suicide Squad. As the credits start, the guitars ring out, the drums roll, and Carroll begins to sing, “Teddy sniffing glue he was 12 years old / Fell from the roof on East Two-Nine.” Gunn’s whirling camera pans up and spins around the dead and dying bodies that litter the beach, turning the brutalization of many of the film’s supposed principal players into a house party. As the director twirls the camera around T.D.K. (Fillion), who is coughing up bubbles of blood, Gunn cuts to the office of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), where her employees watch the massacre on console screens and give the finger to the dead supervillains, literally and figuratively. Meanwhile, Waller’s just upset that she’ll have more headaches before the mission is complete. These are people (and weasels) who died, but they are totally expendable. Gunn’s use of the song upends what audiences might think the movie will be, who’s starring in it, and what we should think of the characters. He lays out that not only are these characters disposable, but we should delight in their demise.

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The film’s opening credits riff on Gunn’s previous film, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. Lauded for its soundtrack, GOTG Vol. 2 opens with Baby Groot dancing to Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” as Groot’s partners are walloped by a just-out-of-frame space monster. Where Guardians distracts us from violence with an adorable CGI creation (one based on Gunn’s own movements), The Suicide Squad does the opposite. Instead, the director revels in the mayhem he created, using “People Who Died” as a mission statement for the rest of the film. The violence is the entertainment. It’s the reason we’re watching. It’s the reason Waller’s employees are having so much fun. It’s why we settle in for another two hours. Dancing Groot is funny in the context of mayhem. In The Suicide Squad, the violence is the joke.



The Suicide Squad is at its purest when singing in showers of blood, and no place is that more true than the opening credits. As Carroll names all the teens he knew who died, turning their obits into entertaining and cathartic punk perfection, Gunn does the same. The director takes the time to introduce us to the characters, lays the groundwork for future callbacks that will never be called back, and kills them all with glee. No one is safe in his world, regardless of billing. And it’s all in good fun because we don’t necessarily want to see these people live anyway. They’re supervillains, after all. Gunn dares us to enjoy the violence for its own sake and to hope that Superman doesn’t show up to stop the madness. Then, with “People Who Die” playing on the soundtrack, he delivers an opening that kills.


How many times is the F word used in the Suicide Squad? ›

There are over 50 f-bombs. Some guy gets shot with his genitals out. This isn't a family film and attempts to watch this with grandma and the kids may result in some changes to the will that aren't in your favor, or some uncomfortable questions from your child's teacher.

What was the mission in Suicide Squad 1? ›

In the movie, several convicts join a task force known as the "Suicide Squad" in exchange for lighter sentences. They are sent to the South American island nation of Corto Maltese to destroy all traces of the giant alien starfish Starro the Conqueror before it falls into the local government's control.

What was the purpose of Suicide Squad? ›

This team of super-villains, assembled by their director Amanda “The Wall” Waller, undertakes high-risk covert operations and in exchange receive commuted prison sentences. And we do mean high-risk. Regardless of abilities and talent, every member of the Squad is expendable—it's expected that many will not return.

What is the moral lesson of the Suicide Squad? ›

Biggest inspiration: Will Smith's love for his daughter. He loves his daughter so much, he doesn't even kill the Batman. Moral of the story: love your loved ones, above everything else in life.

Why is the F-word used so much in movies? ›

As one commentator notes, Hollywood “uses the f-word as a sort of signal to attract the audience it wants: the 15-to-25-year-olds who rush out to opening weekends and put a movie on the map.”

What movie has the most C words? ›

Nil By Mouth (1997)

Given the intensity of it all, it's perhaps unsurprising that Oldman hasn't directed again since. With this level of realism, there naturally comes a high level of cursing. The movie almost certainly holds the record for most uses of the C-word and, when it comes to f**k, there are 428 uses.

Why is Joker not in Suicide Squad 2? ›

Without taking into account the mixed reception of Leto's portrayal of the iconic Batman villain, James Gunn explained that he didn't bring back the Joker in The Suicide Squad simply because he wouldn't fit the story.

Why did Suicide Squad 1 fail? ›

Quick Answer: Plagued by a rushed schedule and indecisive producers, the troubled production of Suicide Squad (2016) suffered from extensive reshoots, a change in direction during the editing process and a reported battle between competing cuts of the film. The problem centered on differing visions of the film's tone.

Who was flag first Suicide Squad? ›

Colonel Rick Flag Jr. appears in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film Suicide Squad, portrayed by Joel Kinnaman. This version is a Special Forces officer. He is hired by Amanda Waller to watch over June Moone, with whom he falls in love, and is later tasked with leading the Suicide Squad on field missions.

What mental illness is in Suicide Squad? ›

Personality Disorder, specifically, Histrionic Personality Disorder plays a key part in Harley Quinn's life. People with Histrionic Personality Disorder are “pervasive and excessive emotionally and display attention-seeking behavior” (Bornstein 1998).

Who controls The Suicide Squad? ›

The original Suicide Squad, called the Suicide Squadron, were a very expendable team that existed during World War ll. Comprised of trouble-making soldiers, they were led by a man named Rick Flag, Sr. The Suicide Squad is under the control of the government organization called Task Force X.

Who is the strongest Suicide Squad member? ›

Strongest: Deadshot

As one of the most frequently recurring members of the Suicide Squad–and the longest surviving–Deadshot has earned quite the reputation. Deadshot's proficiency with firearms makes him one of the top assassins in the DC universe.

What is the lesson learned from Harley Quinn? ›

Don't judge a book by its cover.

Most of the time, people think that this somehow hinders her capability as a villain, but she uses it to her advantage and always proves them wrong.

What was the meaning of the end of Suicide Squad? ›

As the film ends, Bloodsport has made a deal with Amanda. She will not harm the remaining Task Force X members, and they in turn will not share America's war crimes with the world. Don't Miss These Stories. Naseeruddin Shah on role of artistes in times of propaganda films: 'People whose voices matter are all scared'

Is The Suicide Squad a hero or villain? ›

The Suicide Squad is a fictional antihero/supervillain team appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The first version of the Suicide Squad debuted in The Brave and the Bold #25 (September 1959) and the second and modern version, created by John Ostrander, debuted in Legends #3 (January 1987).

What is the most swear words said in movie history? ›

Analysing over 3,500 film scripts, the study found that The Wolf of Wall Street contained the most swear-words, with a staggering 715 in total, with the film's supporting actor Jonah Hill taking the prize for the biggest potty-mouth in modern movies.

What is the most curse words said by an actor in a movie? ›

Hill has used a total of 376 curse words in film history, followed by Leonardo DiCaprio who has cursed 361 times.

What movie has the least spoken words? ›

These Are The Best Movies With Almost No Dialogue
  • 8 Drive.
  • 7 Fantasia.
  • 6 Hush.
  • 5 The Artist.
  • 4 Cast Away.
  • 3 The Revenant.
  • 2 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • 1 A Quiet Place.
Aug 31, 2022

What is the longest word movie? ›

If Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Hellbound, Flesh-Eating Subhumanoid Zombified Living Dead, Part 2: In Shocking 2-D counts as a proper movie, then it probably holds the record for the longest movie title, at an ...

What movie is the longest? ›

Cleopatra remains the longest Hollywood movie ever made, with a runtime of four hours and eight minutes (248 minutes). This is closely followed by Gone with the Wind, which comes in just 10 minutes behind.

How much swearing is in the Suicide Squad? ›

Profanity (2)

There's numerous casual profanities such as "damn", "ass", and "hell".

How many F bombs can a movie have? ›

The ruling came to be that only one F-bomb could be used in a PG-13 movie, which meant that writers had to become more strategic when and if they placed it in a movie.

How many curse words are in the new Top Gun? ›

Profanity: There are 26 uses of scatological profanity, one sexual expletive, and infrequent uses of mild cursing and terms of deity.

What was the first movie to use a curse word? ›

Little by little, the gates opened a little wider, but swear words were basically limited to dramas. Then in 1970, Robert Altman's comedy M*A*S*H became the first major studio film to use the f-word, a passing comment during a football scene.

Is Suicide Squad ok for a 13 year old? ›

I would not let a kid under 18 watch this. Violence is one thing but this feature is shock full of twisted behavior with a good bit of aggressive sexual innuendo thrown in the mix. Women sexualized, mistreated. Good guys vs bad guys is a given but this film takes it to another level.

Is Suicide Squad ok for 11 year olds? ›

Suicide Squad is a fantasy, action, adventure movie. It's based on antihero characters from the DC Comics series. It's fast paced and full of action and will appeal to teenagers. Because of its violence and supernatural content, however, it isn't suitable for younger viewers.

Should a 13 year old watch Suicide Squad? ›

The Suicide Squad is rated R, which means it's usually not suitable for kids under 17.

Can PG-13 have one f word? ›

The restrictions set by the Us ratings board mean the F-word can only be used once in a PG-13 movie. Mark looks at its impact on films...

Are PG-13 movies allowed one F word? ›

A noun, adjective, verb, filler verb — the F-bomb has evolved and been creatively utilized by screenwriters, actors, and directors like the iconic Quentin Tarantino, for decades. Generally reserved for R-rated projects, PG-13 movies are allowed a single use of the four-letter word.

Can a PG movie have the F word in it? ›

There are exceptions, usually when the word is just repeated in a short time or used as part of an emotional scene, McMahon said. But any movie with more than three F-bombs likely couldn't remain PG-13, she said. And if the word is used to signify sex, the film automatically gets an R rating.

Can Christians watch Top Gun? ›

It also tells a strong redemptive story leading to sacrifice, forgiveness and reconciliation. However, TOP GUN: MAVERICK is marred by too many obscenities and three strong profanities. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong or extreme caution.

Which Top Gun character can t talk? ›

Val Kilmer's Iceman returns in Top Gun: Maverick who noticeably has very minimal dialog in the movie, and there are both real-world and story reasons why Val Kilmer can't speak.

What is the longest swear ever? ›

Dunbar is famed in Scottish and ecclesiastical history for issuing the longest curse, a 1000-word diatribe against the Borders reivers who he excommunicated saying this: “I curse their head and all the hairs of their head.

What was the first swear word in music? ›

The First F--k in Song? Eddy Duchin - "Old Man Moses". American pianist Eddy Duchin looked like the kind of clean-cut chap your parents wish you'd might bring home one day, but his 1938 cover of Louis Armstrong's "Old Man Moses," with Patricia Norman on vocals, caused a scandal for its wink-wink use of innuendo.

What was the first curse word on TV? ›

1965: First use of the f– word on TV is on 13 November 1965 by literary agent Kenneth Tynan (UK) during a satirical discussion show entitled BBC3.

What TV show had the first swear word? ›

First scripted curse word - "Chicago Hope"

Mark Harmon uttered the phrase "s**t happens" on an episode of Chicago Hope.


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