NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Suicide Squad.
If it's true that no publicity is bad publicity, then the critical conversation around Suicide Squad has only helped launch it towards a massive opening weekend. After early reactions tarred the film from top to bottom, general audiences showed the marketing mattered more - but what that means for the future of the DCEU, and this franchise in particular is a question yet to be answered.
The bottom line is that while divisive films may grab headlines, there's no doubt Warner Bros. would rather the reviews be positive, AND the box office turnouts record-breaking. So with a starstudded cast signed to multiple films, and characters now established with audiences, a sequel to Suicide Squad is a no-brainer. Whether David Ayer will be the one entrusted with it may not be as set in stone as it seemed before release - but apparently, he already has some ideas about where the Squad could head next.
Just so we're clear, there's no reason to think that Warner Bros. will actually look to bring in a new writer or director. Not yet, at least. All reports from the cast and crew had nothing but praise for Ayer's vision, and we've explored the idea that a hurried schedule and shortened development may have erected obstacles to Squad's success before cameras even started rolling.
In fact, the film actually ends on a bit of a cliffhanger: with the Squad returned to their prison cells, things seemed back to normal... until Joker smashed into Belle Reve to wisk Harley Quinn away on another adventure. When Collider asked Ayer about ending his film on such a wide open note, he confirmed that was the plan from the start - and the stories it makes possible in the future was a factor:
"We shot that during the first week of photography... I don’t want to give stuff away but it’s that anything is possible, and that’s the thing, for as much control and commend Amanda Waller has over these guys, at the end of the day they’re supervillains and they’re gonna do supervillain stuff.
Plus, the Joker/Harley relationship just seemed like the right button for the movie, it opens so many doors if another one of these were ever to turn up under a rock somewhere."
It's easy to see the most obvious example of the "doors" opened, with Joker and Harley renewing their criminal escapades, and the rest of the Squad possibly sent to bring the two down. But to this point, it's been hard to pin down the goal of the studio: were villains like Joker and Boomerang introduced for standalone films following Batman and The Flash? Or was a direct Squad sequel the top priority?
Ayer probably has the best insight into that answer (and, even if the studio ensures that the fan reactions are addressed the next time around, remains the most likely person to see it executed). But if he does have a plan for Suicide Squad 2's story already, he's not sharing just yet:
"I don’t know, there may be a cocktail napkin with some scribbles on it somewhere, I don’t know [Laughs]."
Moviegoers, fans, and studio executives at WB and DC Films will spend the next weeks and months discussing the same questions, as the film's success and failures are weighed against the larger hopes and plans for the DCEU. But we have little doubt that all involved will be eager to learn what plots Ayer has in mind.
Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters. Wonder Woman arrives on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash and Batman solo movie are currently without release dates.