Cinematography and Composition Lessons from Suicide Squad


Super inspired by the compositions and cinematography (and surprisingly the story-line of the movie: “Suicide Squad”:

A lot of haters said Suicide Squad sucked, so I didn’t watch it. However, after watching Rick Ross’ “Purple Lamborghini” music video, I was curious. I loved the hip hop vibe, mixed with this neopunk futuristic vibe. Loved the colors, and the concept.

So I watched Suicide Squad– and it is probably my top-3 new favorite ‘anti-superhero’ movie//along with The Dark Knight.


1. Will Smith and reality

First of all, Suicide Squad seems more ‘real’ to me. You have Will Smith as Deadshot, who has a loving relationship with his daughter. He gets his money transferred to his bank account via his smartphone.

2. The Real Joker

Not only that, but the Joker is what I think a real joker would be in real life. Studded with chains, purple leather jackets, dyed slicked back green hair, and tattoos all over. It seems more real:

Colors and compositions

The compositions are simple, spot on, and the colors are very subtle. But they work.

I will try to break down some of my analyses:

1. Leading lines

In one of these shots, you see Joker lying on the ground, with all these knives and weapons pointed to him. Funny enough, it looks like he is some Jesus savior figure.

The camerawork is great, it pants outwards, and turns:

Also funny thing — note the laptops and baby clothes in the top-right corner. Perhaps his dreams of having a family with Harley Quinn (his love interest)? You can see the roses, around the guns:

Lesson: Shoot from a high perspective looking down, good negative space around the subject. Leading lines going straight to the main subject, via lines pointing at them.

If we add ‘Gaussian blur’ — you can better see the composition:

Outlined in red the keyhole-like shape:


The outer edge:


Now see the leading lines:



2. Color combinations

In one scene in the movie (spoiler alert) the Joker jumps in after Harley Quinn.

First of all, the composition is great: you have 9 vats (3×3 perfectly balanced)– and you have good ‘figure to ground‘ (or contrast) between the outline of the Joker and the vat:

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Outlined vats in red. Note how the number 3 (three) is the ‘golden’ number of balance. To have 3 vats across, and 3 vats vertically, it perfectly balances the frame:


In the next scene, you have Joker and Quinn in that disgusting green fluid. Beautifully, you have the red paint around the joker, and the blue around Quinn. It almost looks like a red/blue yin-yang. Or a Pepsi logo. Or the Korean Flag:


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Then you see the camera pan in, closer, and Joker gives her the kiss of life (ironically enough):

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She is awakened.

Lesson: Simple clean background (all green), with a subtle use of brighter colors (red/blue), and high angle looking down.

3. Simple interface

The scenes where Joker is texting Quinn, note how simplified the UI (user interface) is– also it looks like Samsung sponsored the movie, so it looks like an older Android interface:

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I love the details of the simple UI, to make it look real enough, but to not have it branded:

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Just a thought: I wonder how other movie directors incorporate technology User-interface into their movies?

Going back to earlier in the movie– this is what it looked like when Will Smith gets a deposit of $1 million (then another $1 million) to his Citibank account:

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Then when he gets the money, BOOM headshot:

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Like the detail of the donut and spilt coffee cup on the left of the frame.

4. Love for a child

Biggest inspiration: Will Smith’s love for his daughter.

This scene when he sees a ‘normal’ family (note the happy face in the background):

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This nice simple scene at the end of the movie, with his daughter. Note the majestic light shining from the right of the frame, but also how ‘normal’ the house looks:

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Nice close-up frame of him teaching his daughter physics (after all, Will Smith kills people for a living with his gun, and he knows a thing or two about trigonometry and bullet trajectory):

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He loves his daughter so much, he doesn’t even kill the Batman.

Note the layers in the photo, how you have Will Smith in the far left, his daughter in the center, and Batman in the far right:

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Moral of the story: love your loved ones, above everything else in life.

5. Jesus

The sacrificial victim of the movie: the cholo gangster, who sacrifices himself for humanity (like a Jesus figure):

He actually was the most moralistic character in the entire movie. Interesting how he is a Mexican ‘gangster’ — yet the most selfless individual in the entire film.


The movie seems dumb, but the moral lessons are strong, the action is great, the cinematography and colors and light are top-notch.

Highly recommend watching it.

Also what I recommend doing is this: when you watch a movie on your laptop or your phone, take screenshots. Then analyze the compositions afterwards. This will help improve your photography and art.

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