Judging by the poor reception of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC's cinematic universe seems like it could fall apart before it even really gets going. Warner Bros. has promoted Geoff Johns to Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment, which will hopefully bring more optimism to the films themselves as well as reassure fans who may have their doubts. But their next film, David Ayer's Suicide Squad, could quickly launch the DCEU into glorious success.
Featuring a fantastic ensemble cast, wild characters and a delightfully dark tone, the film is looking better and better as its August release date nears. Mixing the brilliantly executed trailers and the multiple statements by its cast and crew determined of its excellence, Suicide Squad is one of those rare installments in the plethora of superhero movies that may just change how the genre moves forward. Check out our 12 Ways Suicide Squad is the Future of Superhero Movies.
First off, there's a great set of new crazy characters that have never had live-action screentime until now. From the trailer alone, two of the film's ensemble quickly gained almost universal praise: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and The Joker (Jared Leto). It showcases Quinn as an unpredictable, wacky antihero that is hard not to love. To back her up is the newest version of The Joker; he's covered in tattoos, wears sleek and flashy clothes, and constantly shows off his obsession with sadism and maniacal activities.
There's Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who's a terrifying supervillian that looks exactly like his name suggests; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), the flame-throwing criminal fuelled by anger; and many more. The film is not only an ensemble piece, but has an array of differing, uncommon characters that all feel incredibly fresh in the genre.
The only other superhero film that even comes remotely close to the irreverent, wild tone of Suicide Squad is Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Suicide Squad has managed to create this dark, comedic tone, depicting a ragtag team of criminals who go about their days with carefree violence. Sure there are jokes and bits of humor like the Marvel films, but what sets this one apart is what it jokes about - death, violence, anger, depression, all of it.
There's no other superhero movie right now that feels like it can handle those sorts of heavy topics the way this one does. And tone is a very important part of this genre; some have criticized past films for being too serious while others seem too jokey. Suicide Squad is very aware that there is an evilness to it, although it never takes itself too seriously either, which is why Dawn of Justice was so heavily chastised.
Since this film is just the third major installment in the DCEU, beginning with Man of Steel back in 2013, Suicide Squad has the potential to expand and explore its vast comic book world. Compared to Marvel's early films that were mostly standalone pieces, this one is crucial to how the DCEU advances as well creating many, many threads that could create spinoffs, prequels, and others that could go into some of the most mysterious parts of its universe.
Warner Bros. has already announced a Harley Quinn movie, and that's just the beginning. Regardless of whether every upcoming DC film is completely successful or not, a spinoff like that opens up questions on who would be featured, could they get their on standalone, and more. The Joker also has plenty of connections to Suicide Squad's other characters in the comic books; it's sort of a twisted version of Pandora's Box. It's exciting, terrifying, and joyous all at the same time.
While it is rated PG-13 (although Ayer has said he's interested in an R-rated sequel), there's something about the level of sadistic violence that Suicide Squad utilizes that's so great. Like most superhero movies, it's going to have a lot of action, but that doesn't mean its necessarily going to be the same old thing. Because the people we follow are major offenders, there's no predicting what they'll do next. They could maim, kill and torture those they encounter, and they're all fine with that. It's a little sick, yet refreshing in a genre that mostly consists of righteous crime-fighting.
The style of violence is important to how the DCEU sets itself apart from Marvel. Instead of going to protect those in need, the members of Suicide Squad seem to seek out the violence so that they may be able to quench their thirst for it. This is an intriguing idea, one that may very well change how future DC installments are made, not to mention Marvel maybe taking a few pointers once its tried-and-true well eventually dries up.
We haven't seen a full synopsis yet, so we're going on the bits and pieces that have been revealed. The members of Suicide Squad are essentially forced into activity, tasked with doing the government's suspicious bidding, particularly in being a secret shield against the threat of a superhero's attacks. This is new ground for a "superhero" film to tread.
It's moving away from genre cliches, while smartly keeping a small connection to it. Here, we'll be looking at the opposition to Batman and Superman. So who do we side with? Why? How do we go about doing that? Suicide Squad challenges those ideologies and supposed alliances. It makes whatever plot is actually in the film not that important, which allows for more character development and world building.
Director David Ayer is a perfect choice to helm a superhero movie. He's proven himself by handling dark, gritty stories like in Fury and End of Watch, not to mention he possesses a beautiful style of filmmaking. His past works are serious in tone, while Suicide Squad seems lighter. Unlike Marvel, a studio that continues to hire directors who are often complete unknowns, Ayer is an established, auteur director.
Marvel's films are becoming increasingly similar, visually. And even compared to Snyder's two DC epics, Ayer's style of writing and directing feels fresh, but most importantly smart. DC's interesting directing choices don't stop there. Aquaman, an upcoming standalone, is being handled by master of the horror genre James Wan (The Conjuring), who has a darkly gorgeous style, which should be a big diversion from both Ayer and Snyder. It's so exciting to see all these big-time filmmakers we love getting a chance to tackle characters so many millions of people hold dear.
The action genre still lacks a substantial female presence. While Dawn of Justice did set up Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) for future roles, and Marvel does their best with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), it's just not much. Suicide Squad, on the other hand, has a complex female character in the lead role: Harley Quinn. Along with her is the magical Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a self-declared maniac, and the code-following Katana.
Even if the female characters aren't too progressive in personality, at least they still are fascinating on-screen presences. They set a comforting precedent in the DCEU. It's also interesting to note that in Quinn's case, she seems to be the only person on the team capable of calming the others, and has leadership skills.
There's no denying that most critics and audiences disliked Dawn of Justice; a sad fact, but not the end of the world. It's a misstep that Suicide Squad looks to set right. If well-received, it could allow for the DCEU to immediately snap back to a place of respect and excitement. And looking at the years to come with more and more DC films coming, they really need a good win early.
The anti-genre ensemble has so many good things going for it that it's a beacon of light for Warner Bros. It's one thing for a film to be loved by a small section of its fanbase, but's its a whole other entity if it succeeds critically and financially. Ayer and the cast have a major hand in why it's so strong, so there will be many people to thank once it hits theaters.
Marvel is pushing out films featuring big casts of big name characters, such as Captain America: Civil War and, to a lesser extent, Guardians of the Galaxy. The audience immediately knows not to fear for the safety of the heroes. Don't worry, even if they look like they may be about to die, they won't! Suicide Squad does away with the safety net.
Because almost everyone is debuting in this one, there's an overwhelming sense of tangible danger for the characters. Who knows if Killer Croc, for example, or Enchantress will make it? It's similar to the way Mad Max: Fury Road was laid out; the viewer was never sure who would make it in the end. That's how you create suspense.
"We're bad guys, it's what we do." That statement, said by Quinn in the second trailer, is the epitome of why this movie is so out of left field. In past comic book adaptations we tend to want our heroes to do good, even if that means breaking the rules every once in a while. But in Suicide Squad's case, these people are just downright crazy. It may be a tad bit violent and possibly uncomfortable, yet it's still compelling, and the audience is sympathetic to these antiheroes. What does this say about the genre going forward? Should our characters be wise-cracking, law-abiding leaders? Why not the opposite?
After this film, especially in the DCEU, we could be seeing a major shift in how films like this are thought out. It would be genuinely interesting if we got a wave of films that showed people doing the more mysterious and possibly illegal activities, not just saving the world from some evil alien creature. We've seen this a few times before in watered-down ways, but Suicide Squad aims to inject itself with that on an endless loop. What's great about it is, if you don't like it, it doesn't matter. They love it - these villain-heroes - so just go along with it and have fun.
You can tell from the trailers the movie's bringing its own unique, yet classic style. It's not overly flashy, nor heavily washed out like its predecessors. Suicide Squad fills its world with offbeat color-mixing and designs that work, miraculously. It's one more point in its favor; there are some films that make it hard to tell what the final product will actually be, and often enough they underwhelm once that we see it. But this film is different in that exudes endless style and class. From the set to the costume design, the look of the film is spot-on. Case in point: Quinn's torn t-shirt that reads, "Daddy's Lil Monster."
The Joker's absurd outfits are equally as superb. Differing greatly from both Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight and Jack Nicholson's in Tim Burton's Batman, the look and style of Leto is so creepily gorgeous. It's strange choices like this by the filmmakers to do everything possible to make a superhero movie that is truly weird, rather than just trying to be different for the sake of it. It's shooting for the stars and it's all the better for it.
The actors involved with Suicide Squad surpasses almost any film of its kind. Robbie's wild portrayal of Quinn has been met with love from the character's fanbase, for being so much her own creation while staying true to the character's origin. Some say Leto may have gone too far with his method-acting approach, although it feels like it will pay off tenfold once we see the full monty.
That's not to say that the other performers aren't as great. The supporting actors are unlikely choices, like Ayer himself. The cast is a veritable marvel. Everyone is on top of their game, prompting the DCEU to continue to make odd choices in the casting of their iconic characters.
Different doesn't always mean bad, people. Even if Suicide Squad isn't an absolutely perfect masterpiece, it has a lot of fresh and intriguing ideas to it that will most likely sway the genre in big ways. It's beautiful looking in a creepy way, it's got a cynical yet lively tone, and is filled with talented actors and a smart director. It looks to be focusing way more on character than bloating itself with a bunch of plot, and while it may end up being a long film it will by no means be a dull one in any way.
There's many more reasons why this film could be a huge success, so let us know in the comments below!