Next year, DC will finally launch its extended cinematic universe (read: DCEU) and compete alongside the MCU with two highly anticipated films: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and its immoral, “really bad” counterpart, Suicide Squad. While the former will finally bring two superhero icons to the big screen, the latter will introduce audiences to a revamped Joker and the first ever live-action, cinematic version of Harley Quinn. As such, it’s impossible not to wonder which of the two films is more highly anticipated – and which will draw the bigger box office haul.
The 2015 San Diego Comic-Con may have previewed the odds by debuting a packed new trailer for Batman V Superman, as well as exclusive footage from Suicide Squad, which was not meant for public viewing. As with most “exclusive” things in the industry, though, a bootleg video of it leaked and Warner Bros. failed to contain it – resulting in the studio deciding to release an official, high-quality version of it online. And thus began ‘Batman V Superman versus Suicide Squad: Dawn of YouTube Justice.’
As of right now, David Ayer’s film about a dysfunctional “family” currently has the upper hand with 36,792,211 views on YouTube – despite Zack Snyder’s superhero battle royale debuting first. Trailing Suicide Squad by more than a million, Batman V Superman currently has 35,335,594 views.
But from the very beginning, the odds seemed stacked against Batman V Superman for three key reasons. First, because the film will hit theaters five months before Suicide Squad, its marketing efforts had logically started first. Fans had already seen one trailer for the film (and even a trailer for the trailer), while they had seen nothing but set photos and videos from the other. That said, Suicide Squad offered something new and unseen. And it also offered something limited and inaccessible (read: “exclusive”).
Second, Batman V Superman did not benefit from the rabid curiosity that comes with leaked poor quality footage. Warner Bros. released its new trailer to the public almost immediately after it previewed at SDCC 2015, making it easily accessible and free. Suicide Squad, on the other hand, played hard to get; it made us work for and earn it. And something earned is always better than something given (hence the planned Comic-Con leaks theory).
Third and finally, in terms of visual aesthetic and movie trailer artistry, Suicide Squad (in this writer’s opinion) has the better trailer. Sure, it may not have give equal time to each member of the squad or explained the story beat-by-beat to casual viewers, but that’s what made it great; that’s what made it intriguing. It baited audiences with a taste of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Jared Leto’s Joker, while setting an eerily irresistible tone and teasing potential story lines (i.e. the birth of Enchantress) – all over phenomenal editing synced with an appropriately haunting song. While Batman V Superman provided our first look at Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor in action, it may have shot itself in the foot (with a kryptonite bullet) by cramming in too much and trying to explain the story to casual viewers.
Interestingly enough, though, Screen Rant fans exhibited a different opinion than that of the general YouTube public. Following the release of both trailers, we conducted a poll on Twitter to determine which trailer was more well received by our readers. In the end, Batman V Superman led with double the votes.
The difference in results is actually surprising. One would think the general public would be more receptive to Batman V Superman rather than Suicide Squad, considering the familiarity of universally known characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman as opposed to more obscure characters like Killer Croc, El Diablo, and Enchantress. Obviously neither the Twitter poll nor YouTube is definitive, but nonetheless, the contradictory response is interesting.
Whatever your opinion, though, both films have undeniably encountered their fair share of fan skepticism and hostility. From Eisenberg’s casting as Lex Luthor to Joker’s tattoos and teeth fillings, no change or divergence from comic book lore has been left unscathed. That said, the true test will ultimately come when both films hit the big screen, either proving that the DCEU is here to stay, or that a darker superhero universe is not what audiences want.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.