Loving The Unlovable
By Anthony Casperson
SPOILER ALERT – Below you will see minor spoilers for the movie Suicide Squad. I’ll try not to give too much away (even when I write quickly concerning the climax of the movie), but you have been warned.
I went to go see Suicide Squad earlier this week (obvious after the spoiler alert, I know). But as I left the theater, I wasn’t thinking about how great the action scenes were, or how insanely funny the humor was. I wasn’t even thinking about how interesting the DC Extended Universe is going to be with this band of (ex-?)villains being a front-loaded addition to the overarching story. No, I was thinking about the theme of the movie: love.
Now that most of you are scratching your heads, wondering if I saw the same movie you did, let me explain. This band of misfit, villainous outcasts are all gathered under threat of being blown up by a sub-dermal bomb under the control of Amanda Waller (who I hold as the true villain of the movie, but I digress). But as the movie progresses, we see a group of people who desire, or are pursuing, love.
Will Smith’s character, Deadshot, is an assassin whose love for his daughter drives him. The girl even says pretty early in the movie that she knows he kills people, but she loves him anyway. Harley Quinn’s (psychotic?) love of The Joker is one of her main motivations. Killer Croc is introduced with a statement about how his abnormal physicality made people fear him as a monster (leaving unsaid that he was shown no love growing up). The pyrokinetic character known as El Diablo is shown to deeply care for his family, eventually revealing how their fate affected him. The leader Rick Flag, though not a villain, is shown to come to love the woman who transforms into The Enchantress when the spirit within possesses her. And this love is used tactically by Waller to control Flag. (I told you, true villain.) Even late addition to the team, Katana, has her love for her deceased husband revealed in a dramatic way.
This team of misfit toys starts off thinking only about themselves, but come to see what happens when they band together and accept one another, psychoses and all. Other people hate them. They’re even in the place they find themselves because they’re considered expendable. But together, they find something worth fighting for. This camaraderie (dare I say love for one another) even leads to moments of self-sacrifice.
Love is core to the story told here. Even at the climax of the movie, the word “love” is prominently displayed on screen. It’s like the filmmakers wanted it to be obvious that love was the theme of the movie. But I wonder how many people left that theater talking about how love was the important message of the movie.
The theme of love isn’t just found in movies like Suicide Squad. The bible’s climax is all about God’s love for us, and his great act of self-sacrifice to bring right relationship with him to us. And that love can often be missed as well.
God’s love goes far beyond familial bonds, or obsessive infatuation. It’s a love without borders. Outcasts, the unwanted, and even villains are within the reach of God’s love. The God-man who died between two rebellious murders granted acceptance to the repentant man who hung beside him.
But how often do we as followers of Jesus show that type of love to people? Are there expendable people in our eyes? People who deserve to just be left to rot?
Or do we look at these people and try to implant some control device in them to keep them in line rather than show them the love they deserve? (I’m telling you, true villain.) We tell them, inadvertently or not, that they have to follow some code that we’ve decided is proper so that they can maybe knock 10 years off of their multiple life sentences?
God’s love wipes our sins, our faults, our mistakes, away when we come to accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This doesn’t make us perfect, but that love leads us to see what it is to live lives of love, of self-sacrifice, of holiness. It’s the love that shows us how to live. The process will take more than the 2-hour length of a movie, but it'll grow in us. It’s love that can make a villain into a hero. We just have to show love to the unlovable.