The Suicide Squad: Why King Shark Is the Best Character - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Suicide Squad: Why King Shark Is the Best Character

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for The Suicide Squad.

King Shark is a lot of things. He is a shark, you see, but he is also a man. Additionally, he is a king, but of what is unclear. The oceans, I suppose. "Some people claim Nanaue is the descendant of an ancient shark god," Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) says in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, a sweaty line of exposition given such little follow-up it'd easily be as dunkable as "here comes Slipknot, the man who can climb anything," were it not for the fact King Shark rules and Slipknot utterly sucks ass. Sometimes, it really is that simple. King Shark, as performed physically in The Suicide Squad by Steve Agee and vocally by Sylvester Stallone in Sly's best performance since at least 1993, embodies the simplest forms of cinematic pleasure. On paper, there's not a ton setting the character apart from similar James Gunn mo-cap comedy monsters like Groot or Rocket Raccoon, or even Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) from the original Suicide Squad, who is much more practical (good) and a good deal more racist (bad). But King Shark is, simply, better. He's the best, period, exclamation point, cue the song from Deep Blue Sea. King Shark is many things, but above all, King Shark is your friend.

RELATED: ‘The Suicide Squad’ Review: James Gunn Goes Big, Bold, and Bloody for the Best DCEU Movie YetIn many ways, King Shark reminds me of the inarguable joy of Babu Frik from The Rise of Skywalker—a character I would very much like to see ride around on King Shark's shoulders like a little cowboy—in that his mere existence suggests a fascinating world outside the movie. To look at King Shark is a blast of a thousand stories untold, a million questions unanswered. Who supplies his board shorts? Can this 10-foot-tall bipedal sea beast walk into a Star City Pacsun and purchase triple-XL board shorts or are they tailored? Who is King Shark's board short tailor? What specific types of crimes did King Shark commit before ending up in Belle Rev? Were they exclusively sea-based felonies? You almost have to assume it was your standard shark-god murder spree—Waller specifically says he's "developed a taste for human meat"—but there's simply nothing in the film that proves King Shark did not orchestrate a bank heist. What if the only way the authorities could take down King Shark was through a tax fraud loophole? (Does King Shark pay taxes?) He's impervious to bullets; should we unpack that? Is a great white shark surviving a 15-story drop from a Nazi spire followed by a barrage of automatic gunfire at all grounded in factual marine biology?

Gunn, wisely, seeks to explain none of this. The Suicide Squad contains the ideal amount of King Shark, no more or less than is necessary. And yet—or, possibly, because of this—the character's arc is the purest summation of every theme the film strives to get across to the audience. Gunn, for all his faults, is an effective "found family" filmmaker, something he proved on a grand scale with Guardians of the Galaxy and demonstrated more maturely in The Suicide Squad. For the most part, these characters never really stop being criminal trashbags; they find a very contained type of redemption specifically in this circle of equally immoral mercenaries. We're watching these people crack the shell, bullet by bullet, that they've built around themselves to avoid the pain that comes with caring, a relatable story painted large in clown makeup and polka-dots.

Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in the case of King Shark, who tells a tragedy through roughly 12 lines of dialogue, at least three of which are "nom nom." King Shark endangers the mission exactly one (1) time, the night he almost snacks on the head of Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior). It's a gigantic gun that knocks him down, but what stops him for good is an offer of friendship. "I no friends," is, in all seriousness, Stallone's best line delivery in a few decades; it's three words tinged with enough sadness to tell you no one has looked at King Shark without shitting their pants in fear for his entire life. For the remainder of the film, King Shark is a tank fueled by friendship, a terrifying agent of destruction high on being loved for the first time. To be clear, this still means he's ripping dudes in half, a form of self-improvement a behavioral therapist would probably describe as "not ideal." But it's a wonderful arc, especially in the film's most oddly beautiful moment, the scene that sees King Shark gleefully making friends with an aquarium full of fish in the Jotunheim tower. At this moment, King Shark has finally opened his heart before his mouth. But vulnerability, man-shark or not, is a dangerous thing; it's no coincidence that the fish he calls friends are the only things in the movie that manage to break his skin.

In the end, the remaining members of the squad decide to do the right thing and save the world, each for their own reasons. Bloodsport (Idris Elba) for growth, Ratcatcher 2 for the underdog, Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) to destroy the past, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) just to continue making any damn choice she wants. King Shark? King Shark did it because he is your friend.

KEEP READING: How ‘The Suicide Squad’ Ending Upends Superhero Cinema Conventions



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