With DC and Marvel set to overwhelm fans with dozens of comic book blockbusters in the coming years, it's more likely than ever that lesser-known comics might finally get their time in the spotlight. There was a time when Suicide Squad was a top contender for adaptation, but those plans were set aside when Warner Bros. seemed to lock down its plan for a shared movie universe. But according to recent comments, fan-favorite villainess Harley Quinn could be on WB's radar once again- and where Harley goes, the Suicide Squad tends to follow.
We should start by saying that fans should take this report with a grain of salt. While there is growing evidence that Suicide Squad could be back on WB's list of in-development projects, we're still short on a confirmation. And even if the the movie is being planned by DC Entertainment, the lengthy slate of release means it may not come before 2020.
It's been some time since any evidence or worthwhile rumors on Suicide Squad's fate surfaced, so before we get to the latest hint, let's make sure everyone is on the same page. Just how did a comic book team of convicted mercenaries, villains, and mutated criminals find its way onto DC's rumored shortlist in the first place? Without a confirmation it's hard to know, but when word first broke of WB looking to fast-track their DC Comics universe, Suicide Squad was among the very first mentioned.
Fans of the regular Squad members - Deadshot, King Shark, Captain Boomerang, Harley Quinn and more - had a brief celebration before WB slammed on the brakes. All project would be put on hold, with the studio instead launching their core characters in a single vision - now understood to be Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman and Justice League movie to follow.
Despite the fact that Suicide Squad already had a script from Justin Marks (The Jungle Book, Federal Bureau of Physics), producer Dan Lin explained that the studio seemed to be putting all lower-tier projects on hold until Justice League and its associated heroes was taken care of. Just under a year ago, word broke that not only was Warner Bros. interested in making smaller-scale films as well as blockbusters, but that any smaller films - including Suicide Squad - would need screenwriter David S. Goyer's blessing.
At the time, we cited WB's understandable hesitance for greenlighting a team of obscure antiheroes in a standalone film, let alone a dark action comedy. We had hoped that Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy would dissolve those fears, proving that audiences would support a grungy and quirky team of colorful characters. It did (and then some), and Warner Bros, had to take notice.
Our suspicions that WB and DC Entertainment had decided to start the wheels turning on their own team of unlikely (and violent) heroes gained steam with the recent release of the animated feature Batman: Assault on Arkham. The movie itself was a fantastic adaptation (read our review), but as was discussed on a recent episode of the SR Underground Podcast, there was little need for 'Batman' in the title; Assault on Arkham was clearly a cleverly-disguised Suicide Squad film.
The members of the Squad may be drawn from several different DC properties, so word of a Harley Quinn project could just as likely point to a role in an upcoming Batman film, perhaps teasing a brand new Joker. But take a look at how DC chose to advertise the new Squad, both in the animated film and the 'New 52' comic relaunch:
The point: DC knows that Harley Quinn is more than just a fan-favorite. And now that Guardians has proven that a walking tree and raccoon can steal scenes as well as hearts, the idea of Harley and a carnivorous man-shark attracting an audience doesn't seem so far-fetched. Of course, there's already one version of the Squad being adapted - courtesy of The CW's Arrow.
The TV show's version steered clear of the more outlandish (and iconic) members of the mercenary team, but did drop a blatant reference to Harley Quinn. When CBR asked executive producer and writer Andrew Kreisberg whether Harley would appear in the flesh in Arrow Season 3, he revealed more than a simple 'yes' or 'no':
"I don't know about [Harley Quinn's appearance]...There are very few things we've asked DC Comics for that we haven't gotten. That was something you asked for, and what you saw is a compromise that Geoff Johns and I came up with. To even get that much was a thrill for us. I know that they may have other plans for her, but it was certainly an Easter egg that thrilled us. But the Suicide Squad will definitely be back. Whether we see the 'deranged female killer' we saw before, we'll have to wait and see."
Kreisberg stops short of explaining just what DC has in mind for Harley, but the fact that Geoff Johns deemed an easter egg a 'compromise' makes a full-blown appearance seem unlikely. But why would DC keep a character off TV? Johns has definitively stated that DC's movie and TV universes are separate entities, so the casting of heroes like The Atom or Firestorm in substantial roles has implied they'll be absent from the big screen universe (for now).
When the Wonder Woman origin story Amazon was in development, The CW's President explained how difficult it was to pursue stories without interfering with the studio's big screen plans. Now Wonder Woman is making her debut in Dawn of Justice, and the origin series has been shelved. So if Harley is already spoken for, then the smart money says Suicide Squad is the culprit.
The real question raised, then, is what to make of The Flash. Should fans hold their breath on seeing him appear in a big screen Justice League? There's a chance DC isn't willing to take their chances on spreading Harley Quinn too thin, but could be more confident in the speedster's ability to prop up a TV series and a film. Or offer an explanation for the studio launching a Flash/Green Lantern team-up instead of solo films.
It's clearly speculation on our part, but the evidence - and assumption that Warner Bros. knows just what they have with Suicide Squad - seems clear enough. What do you think of the film's chances? Could a TV series be a better fit, or do you think a dark (R-Rated?) comedy starring Harley Quinn is a no-brainer? Sound off in the comments.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for all your Suicide Squad updates, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.