Culture

'Suicide Squad's' Stealth Feminism Trumps Lady 'Ghostbusters'

The summer’s most powerful female performance arrives with nary a lecture or guilt trip.

Yes, while social justice warriors spent months insisting we all fall madly in love with the “lady” Ghostbusters, the real deal is finally here.

Meet Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. She’s saucy, sexy and out of control. And she’s the main attraction in the ensemble film “Suicide Squad.”

The new film gathers a rogue’s gallery of super villains and let’s them try being heroes for a change. It’s based on the DC Comics title, and it’s the newest film in that brand’s attempt to catch up with Marvel’s mega-movie lineup.

“Suicide Squad” features a new Joker (Oscar winner Jared Leto) and superstar Will Smith. That’s powerful marketing potential. So guess who fans are talking about the most?

Harley Quinn. Why?

Talent. Beauty. Charisma. She’s “vexing,” to use her own line. And she’s in control, no questions asked.

It’s all there, and it doesn’t need anyone telling us to like her. How refreshing.

Compare that to the cultural hand-wringing which greeted “Ghostbusters.” The film opted to feature four female leads instead of the four male stars who made the 1984 film so memorable.

Some grumbled about the gender switcheroo. Others just shrugged and waited to see what the finished product looked like.

That wasn’t good enough. For months we were hectored into loving the movie. Director Paul Feig and the film’s key stars slammed the “haters” and “sexists” who weren’t sure the reboot was a good idea.

The press piled on, too.

The Washington Post said anyone who didn’t like the film’s awful first trailer was a sexist. Really.

Next page: So what happened?

The film opened with a modest $46 million first weekend tally. Now, it’s limping along, from a blockbuster standard, and will be lucky to make back its initial investment.

In short, it’s a commercial disappointment.

And then there’s “Suicide Squad,” which could make as much as $140 million on its opening weekend alone. Now, these are two different kinds of films. So it’s hard to directly compare and contrast.

One thing is crystal clear. “Suicide Squad” let Robbie’s character speak for itself. Team “Ghostbusters” refused to do so.

We’re already hearing whispers of a Harley Quinn spinoff film. If it happens, you can blame Robbie and a character that consumers love. The people will have spoken, and the studio behind the franchise is eager to listen. And Robbie will be an even bigger star if it all goes down as expected.

It’s how real progress for women in Hollywood would, and should, happen.