Between getting fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and then rehired again by Disney, James Gunn took a job for DC Films, writing and directing the sequel (which also might be something of a reboot) to Suicide Squad. So, Marvel has now had to delay Vol. 3 while Gunn works on a movie for their biggest rival. It’s unclear how much Gunn’s Suicide Squad movie will distance itself from David Ayer’s 2016 original, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. So, here are 5 Things James Gunn Should Change From The Original Suicide Squad (And 5 He Should Keep The Same).
10 Keep the same: Humor
What a lot of critics enjoyed about Suicide Squad in contrast to Batman v Superman, which they’d had to review just a couple of months before, was its humor. The DCEU up to this point had been a cold, humorless slog, and Suicide Squad came along with banter and jokes and comedic irony. Some of the gags didn’t land—especially the ones that objectified or sexualized Harley Quinn —but James Gunn will surely fix that. Given how he writes the comic interplay between the Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s no doubt that he could make the laughs in the next Suicide Squad movie more consistent than the first.
9 Change: Rushed feel
Suicide Squad was a symptom of a major Hollywood studio charging headfirst into a Marvel-style shared universe of films in an ill-fated attempt to catch up with them, and David Ayer’s directorial vision was a casualty of it. It’s clear that the bones of a good movie are there—Suicide Squad looks great, it has some emotionally tormented characters in its cast, and it promises more humor than any DCEU movie before it—but it also feels so rushed. Warner Bros. were so desperate to get the movie out in the months following Batman v Superman that they didn’t bother to check whether it was good or not – they just pushed Ayer for a tight deadline, and there was no way a timeless classic was getting made in that short window of time.
8 Keep the same: Dark visual style
Although the characters, plot, and general substance left a lot to be desired, there’s no denying that Suicide Squad looked great. While Warner Bros. didn’t allow enough time to properly develop the script, they did put plenty of time into making sure the movie looked incredible. It has Zack Snyder’s darkness without his overly saturated color-grading; it has Christopher Nolan’s darkness without his real-world bleakness—it’s the best of both worlds for a DC Comics movie. James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies have a light, breezy tone and a bright visual palette. However, he shouldn’t replicate this for The Suicide Squad, because it just won’t suit those characters or that world. He should retain the sumptuously gloomy visual style set by David Ayer in the first one.
7 Change: Incoherent plot
The first Suicide Squad movie grossed over $700 million worldwide and there’s a good chance that none of the people who contributed to that figure can tell you what happened in it. They can tell you that a team of supervillains got together to take down an even greater villain and they succeeded in the end, but that’s not a plot; it’s a premise followed by a predictable conclusion.
James Gunn has shown a sharp sense of storytelling, using scenes to build on the plot and the characters in each Guardians of the Galaxy film. He should bring that to his new Suicide Squad movie and give us a narrative we can actually engage with and follow.
6 Keep the same: Nihilistic tone
The wider superhero genre is built around ideas like destiny and fate and finding the deeper meaning in life. What made Suicide Squad feel like such a breath of fresh air was its nihilistic tone. Its characters don’t have any discernible moral compass, they don’t believe in any particular set of principles, and they don’t care if they live or die. Nihilism has become popular in the mainstream media, thanks to the melancholic musings of Rick and Morty and BoJack Horseman, so maybe Suicide Squad could join pop culture’s ongoing nihilistic oeuvre if it has more to say in the next movie.
5 Change: Underdeveloped characters
There were plenty of characters in the first Suicide Squad film that are richly developed in the comics, and yet the movie failed to flesh them out. Just look at how it bungled the big-screen debut of the fearsome Batman villain Killer Croc. Then there's Deadshot, a gun for hire who's also a loving father wanting to do right by his daughter. And El Diablo is an ex-gang member who’s struggling to move on from his past. These characters have deep backstories, but they were thinly developed in the original movie—James Gunn needs to flesh them out.
4 Keep the same: Superhero cameos
Easily one of the best scenes in Suicide Squad was the one where Batman showed up. He raced after the Joker and Harley Quinn in an awesome car chase and then, when the Joker crashed his car off the road and into the ocean, it became an underwater action sequence (the kind of sequence that never fails to thrill). This might’ve just been a vain attempt to show interconnectivity in the DC Extended Universe, but either way, it was a lot of fun. James Gunn should continue the tradition of superhero cameos by having a different member of the Justice League (or possibly Robert Pattinson’s Batman) make an appearance in his sequel/reboot (“requel”?).
3 Change: Forgettable villain
The MCU is criticized for its “villain problem,” but this is more of an issue with superhero cinema as a whole right now. The movies focus too much on the heroes and forget that a film is only as good as its villain, as Alfred Hitchcock once said. The first Suicide Squad movie had a villain that was entirely forgettable: the Enchantress.
Her powers were vaguely defined, her plan was vaguely defined (what did she actually want, besides just being a villain?), and she was easily defeated in the final battle. James Gunn has given us some great villains and some not-so-great villains in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. In The Suicide Squad, he needs one of the former.
2 Keep the same: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn
Few fans would deny that Margot Robbie’s electrifying turn as Harley Quinn was the best thing about Suicide Squad. She was the only cast member who got the character from the comics right and she was so lovable that fans were excited to see her again and again (and they will, in next year’s female-fronted spin-off Birds of Prey). Although James Gunn seems to be gutting the cast of the original Suicide Squad and replacing them with new people —including Idris Elba —but he should keep Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, both to show its ties to the original (Gunn won’t say if the movie is a reboot or not, so it’s probably some kind of weird sequel/reboot hybrid) and because she’s great in the role and would undoubtedly improve the film.
1 Change: Jared Leto as the Joker
There was little chance that fans would be taken with Jared Leto’s interpretation of the Joker character, since Heath Ledger’s definitive, Oscar-winning version is still fresh in their minds, but Leto’s performance was bad beyond that. Suicide Squad screwed up the character. He stands for one thing: chaos. And what did Suicide Squad do? Give order to his life, showing him arranging his guns on the floor in a perfect pattern. Plus, the tattoos and metal teeth were just ugly; a vain attempt at giving the Joker a remake for millennials. James Gunn’s Suicide Squad movie shouldn’t get rid of the Joker entirely, because he’s integral to the team, but he should get rid of Leto’s Joker (and possibly replace him with Joaquin Phoenix’s version).