So, my husband introduced me to this interesting theory that I had never heard. Suckerpunch is basically Alice in Wonderland. At first, I thought it was weird. Then he explained it, and it made so much sense. Let’s start with the premise of the movie itself.
Girl is grief-stricken when her mother dies. Step-father, discovering that he gets nothing in the will, decides to attack the girl. It is not clear whether he intends to kill her or rape her, or both. That is left up to interpretation. But the girl fights back, so he goes for her more vulnerable little sister. Girl tries to protect sister, goes to shoot him, misses, and sister dies instead. Step-father has her put in an insane asylum for girls, even though there is no proof that she is insane. The orderly who takes her in is corrupt, and she has one week before she gets lobotomized. She turns to a delusion of being trapped in a brothel, where she comes up with a plan to escape. She and four other girls gather the things they need to escape, slipping into additional delusions throughout the story. In the end, only one girl escapes, and it’s not the girl you’ve been following. She gets lobotomized, and the corrupt orderly gets caught.
The girl we follow has a name, which we see in a brief clip while Step-father is filling out the paperwork to have her committed, but it’s only a partial name and it’s barely legible. So we only get to know her as Baby Doll. She is not Alice, like you would think. She’s not even the lead in Suckerpunch. She is the White Rabbit. There is, of course, the superficial reason: she’s got platinum blond pigtails. But the other reasons really prove her role. She leads the others through “Wonderland” and is constantly running around. Also, she is the only character with any sort of time limit. Near the end of the movie, Baby Doll even says “This was never my story. It was yours.”
We’ll get back to that in a bit. My personal favorite Alice character, The Mad Hatter, has a similar superficial trope to the White Rabbit. This heroine wears hats in all of the second-level fantasies. (The extra delusions within the brothel fantasy.) Rocket, Baby Doll’s first friend, is sometimes shown as having slightly ginger hair, as well. She has a spunky, almost crazy, attitude and seems to have little respect for those in authority over her. This is pretty easy to see when she tries to steal from the kitchen and then cries rape when the cook catches her. (There is no evidence that he actually intends to.) Then there’s her closeness to Alice, balanced with her disregarding Alice’s guidance in favor of following Baby Doll’s crazy escape plan. She also has very impulsive tendancies.
Rocket is also close with Amber and Blondie in a very “BFF” kind of way. These two girls are the March Hare and the Doormouse. Amber, being the more loyal, is the Hare. For superficial evidence, look no further than the pink bunny painted on her mech suit in the World War II delusion when they’re stealing the map. She follows the other girls, and provides solid backup throughout the movie. But like a skittish hare, she needs encouragement from Rocket, Baby Doll, and Blondie.
That leaves Blondie as the Doormouse. Blondie serves a similar backup/background position to Amber, and is very sensitive in spite of her cheerful attitude. Blondie is, however, the one who snitches in the brothel delusion. Like the Doormouse, Blondie is barely present in the other delusions.
The last of the girls is Rocket’s sister Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea is the only one of the girls who doesn’t just go along with Baby Doll’s crazy escape plan. She is logical, and in favor of preservation of life. As she accepts the plan, she blends in better, but is still separate. She wavers, where the others do not. This is who Baby Doll is speaking to when she says “this is your story.” This is our Alice. And like Alice, Sweet Pea is the only character to leave. The others can’t, even if they want to.
Early on, Rocket tells Baby Doll that she ran away from home, and that her sister followed her. In this way, Rocket also plays the part of Dinah, Alice’s cat, who leads her to where she will find the White Rabbit.
Suckerpunch even has a Cheshire Cat, in the form of a nameless old wise man. The Wise Man first appears in the ninja/samurai delusion. He guides Baby Doll and the others through all of the secondary delusions, making no appearance at all in the brothel. He only appears in the real world at the very end, when he helps Alice/Sweet Pea get home. Even in that final scene, we’re not sure if he is entirely real. He seems to exist almost exclusively for Alice.
This leaves us with our villains. The worst of which is the orderly, called “Blue” in the brothel fantasy, he is the clear Queen of Hearts. He is covetous, selfish, and prone to angry outbursts. After Rocket is injured in the attempt to get the kitchen knife, he shoots Amber for her part in the plan. Then, because he hates snitches, he shoots Blondie, too. Very “off with her head” in his approach to the situation. The other orderlies even follow his lead, in spite of their disapproving of his methods, which we see at the very end.
The Step-father is kind of a hard fit for the Alice in Wonderland analogy. He has moments where he is the Queen or Dinah, but he really seems to fall into the role of Knave of Hearts. He helps Blue, knowing that it’s wrong and not caring.
The Cook is far easier to place. He is the Walrus and the Carpenter, almost completely detached from Alice and the others, yet he is opportunistic.
The Duchess and the Baby are fun. They appear only in the second-level delusion of the Medieval castle with the dragons. The mother dragon, the Duchess, flips out pretty bad over her baby.
Last but not least is Dr. Gorski. She plays the parts of both antagonist and aid to the girls. She smokes throughout the movie, reminding us of the Caterpillar. She cares about the girls, even though she doesn’t always show it. She gives helpful advice, while still maintaining her professional front. She also has a moment in the brothel delusion where she takes on the role of the King of Hearts, trying to dissuade the Queen, Blue, from a violent tirade without having any success.
All throughout the movie, the music is ethereal and surreal, very reminiscent of the trippy Alice in Wonderland. One of the songs is even about Carroll’s tale. It adds to the girls’ need to escape from reality. After watching the movie again, it was interesting to see the similarities.
So that’s the theory. :) I hope you enjoyed it!