It's safe to say that hopes are high for this summer's Suicide Squad. Following the mixed reaction of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. is in a position where they need the villain team-up to be a smashing critical and commercial success to reinvigorate the blossoming DC Extended Universe. Luckily for the studio, the early response out of test screenings has been largely positive, but the ultimate test will come when the final product is released and theaters and seen by millions of eager fans.
Thanks to a killer marketing campaign, it's easy to forget that Suicide Squad was a fairly niche concept not too long ago, and when word of the film first popped up, it was thought to be nothing more than a mid-budget action movie. Now, it's a major lynchpin in a series, tasked with introducing fan-favorite characters like the Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) while offering a change-of-pace for the genre as a whole. Its meteoric rise has caught some by surprise, including the movie's director, David Ayer.
Speaking with EW, Ayer discussed how the film has evolved from when it was originally conceived. He's aware that there's a lot of pressure on it to perform well, but he feels that the film can live up to the expectations and deliver what viewers want:
“Two years ago Suicide Squad was a tertiary [DC property]. No one knew anything about it. It was a cool little playground, and I was going to go make my movie. Now it’s like the hype bus. All of the attention has swung onto it, and it has to carry a lot more weight than it was ever intended to. I think it can sustain it. But it’s a lot of pressure. You definitely feel the pressure.”
In terms of social media, Suicide Squad is generating the most buzz out of any remaining 2016 movie, so the bar has indeed been set very high. Audiences have praised the film's various trailers, due to a combination of gleefully kinetic action and retro pop music. It's definitely found a way to appeal beyond the hardcore DC Comics fans, and even casual filmgoers are greatly anticipating its premiere. Simply put, many will be disappointed if Suicide Squad is viewed as mediocre or worse. WB has already instituted some behind-the-scenes changes in the aftermath of Batman V Superman, and if the public doesn't take to the Worst. Heroes. Ever., then the franchise could be in a bit of trouble (even with Wonder Woman and Justice League on the horizon).
Fortunately, the pieces are in place for an entertaining film. Ayer was praised as a great hire by DC, making a name for himself as a director with End of Watch and Fury in recent years. In addition, a star-studded ensemble cast illustrated that there was a lot of potential in the story, since the project was able to attract so many A-listers. WB appears to be convinced that they have a winner on their hands, already making plans for a Harley Quinn spinoff and a proper sequel in the near future. They have to be confident in the project's ability to connect with viewers, or else they'd probably stay mum on followups until after August 2016.
These days, just about every studio tentpole comes with the baggage of expectations, and in the realms of Marvel, Star Wars, DC (and others), there's no such thing as a "cool little playground" any more. The amount of pressure on Suicide Squad may be greater now than it was at the start of the year, but it wasn't always going to be able to coast under the radar. The comparison has been made several times, but ideally Suicide Squad can be DC's answer to Guardians of the Galaxy and take a lesser known property to great heights within the mainstream, setting the stage for greater things to come.
Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman is slated for release on June 2, 2017; followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; 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.