[WARNING: This breakdown includes potential plot SPOILERS. Read at your own risk.]
Long before Batman V Superman was proving more of a conversation-starter than even optimists had hoped (for a number of reasons), there was a growing camp who felt that Suicide Squad was quickly becoming the most curious, most interesting, and more original superhero film coming from DC Entertainment (if not the comic book genre as a whole). The marketing has taken the style, attitude, and humor to new heights, and the latest full-length trailer is no exception, relying on Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" for good measure.
The previous trailer for the movie actually let a ton of details slip, assuming viewers were quick enough to catch them (if you haven't read our previous breakdown and analysis, do so now, since the new trailer builds off several of the same points). In the new trailer, Batman makes his presence known, the inmates break free of the asylum, and hints are dropped as to the mystical forces at work behind the scenes of the story.
It's easy to miss the amount of details condensed into the trailer, and even easier to misunderstand or miss completely the reveals and events being shown. Allow us to break down the trailer shot by shot, and make sure that you can ask the important questions - and the ones most likely to get Suicide Squad fans concocting explanations and theories of their own.
You don't have to squint too closely at his I.D. badge to see who character actor David Harbour (End of Watch) is playing, just take note of his nameplate on the conference table: 'Tolliver.' That's Derek Tolliver, a character pulled directly from John Ostrander's run of "Suicide Squad" (upon which the film is based). In the comics, Tolliver was Waller and Task Force X's go-between, going between the covert group and the National Security Council.
His role in the film is a mystery, but considering how self-centered and cunning the comic version was, it's no surprise to see him throwing a mocking grin at Waller's presentation... he's obviously got a plan of his own in motion.
The Superman Threat
It didn't take long for the DC Extended Universe to start pointing to other films as reference. In this case, the trailer opens with a group of men and women in an inner meeting room of The White House, acknowledging that if Superman had - notice the use of the past tense - wanted to kidnap the President of the United States, nothing could stop him. Obviously that's not a concern anymore, but it's likely to be a theme in the DCEU going forward, even if Suicide Squad isn't going to see it answered (a motley crew, sure, but a team of superhuman watchdogs they are not). That being said, previous trailers have shown evidence of a superpowered enemy somewhere in the works, so Tolliver's point may be proven quickly.
It's also worth noting that the U.S. government looks to be at least partially aware of what Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is up to, since the trailer continues to show her making a pitch for Task Force X to the assembled authorities. Just how much of Waller's plan they're actually made aware of... remains to be seen.
An Explosive Injection
For the comic book fans out there, the surgery undergone by all of the Belle Reve inmates makes perfect sense. But since it dabbles in some seriously unorthodox medicine, allow us to break it down. The operations aren't done to make the inmates more docile or even loyal to Amanda Waller or their superiors in the field - they're an insurance policy. The team can be as disrespectful or animated as they like, but try to escape, or refuse to do their job, and Waller is able to personally detonate the explosive charge planted in each of their heads (or, in this case, necks).
It's an extreme measure, but so effective, it's persisted through just about every incarnation of the team in the comics. The idea is that before long, the inmates are invested enough in finishing the job that the explosives become just that - insurance - but more often than not, an example needs to be made, with proof offered that Waller isn't playing around.
Fans may be able to see the moments leading up to exactly that later in the new Suicide Squad trailer, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Their Ticket Out
The movie may begin with the cast imprisoned in Belle Reve, but it obviously doesn't stay that way for long. Before the team is taken to a staging position for their actual mission, they're obviously packed up and transported like only prisoners can be: with highly-trained, heavily-armed soldiers at both sides. You'll notice the "No Lone Zone" signs indicating that the "Two Man Policy" in in effect. In military terms in this situation, that's indicating that the area is uniquely dangerous, so the safety of any and all guards or personnel requires that none are ever on their own, but within visual sight of another person. Why so dangerous? Let's get the reverse angle:
When the camera flips (that's how it seems, at least) it's Deadshot a.k.a. Floyd Lawton (Will Smith) being escorted from Belle Reve directly - notice the familiar artwork welcoming inmates to the premises. Of particular note is Alpha-01 (Ike Barinholtz) the resident tortured and excessive-force-user of the inmates, previously seen delivering some heavy blows to Deadshot's stomach while handcuffed. He is apparently not cleared to follow his inmates any farther - which seems to be amusing his former charge. It may also help explain the strange lengths Alpha-01 seems willing to go to later in the trailer...
Slipknot Slipped In?
Compared to the rest of the cast, collectively captured in Belle Reve, it's been obvious to anyone paying attention that how Slipknot (Adam Beach) becomes an addition to the group has been a bit unclear. He's definitely there when the team arrives on the scene, but there hasn't been a single hint of an origin story. This trailer may explain why, since it's FBI agents, not soldiers who seem to be dropping him off at the staging area. Where the Belle Reve inmates arrive after weeks, or months of incarceration in prison uniforms, Slipknot seems unclear of the fire he's been dropped into, in full gear, to boot.
If we were to wager a guess, it might seem that Slipknot is the last member to join the team, taken directly from holding to the mission. Why would the audience be given less time and energy to invest in his character? Well, a later shot, and the explosives, may answer that question.
The Select Six?
Given the movie's pitch - a band of uniquely skilled killers, assassins, or unhinged operatives take on evil - it's easy to assume that all the colorful characters are part of the team. But pay attention to the actual photos in Amanda Waller's presentation: Harley (Margot Robbie), Deadshot, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Slipknot, and Diablo (Jay Hernandez). Since we're led to believe these are the inmates being assembled by Waller, barring some unknown or unseen sequences or twists, it would seem to confirm that Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) have a more complicated relation to the plot, as well as the task force.
Here's where things get really interesting, in a split-second shot following immediately after the previous one. It's such a brief shot, viewers may not notice that the image behind Waller has changed from the roster of six inmates to an oil painting, somewhat obscured. What business does such a painting have in Waller's presentation on Task Force X? well, it just might have something to do with the disaster that they're being sent out to solve - or the threat they may be looking to eliminate.
The actual villain of the film is still a mystery (and where Common's character fits is just as interesting a question), but the painting could - could- shed some light. Keep in mind: this is speculation on our part. But ask any art fan or student what a painting of heavenly-lit clouds breaking, and a figure falling to the Earth with splayed legs and arms usually means, and there's a good chance they'll mention "The Fall of The Rebel Angels", also known as Lucifer's banishment from Heaven. As in, the story of Lucifer rebelling against Heaven, and being thrown down into Hell to raise a demon army of his own.
What does this have to do with Suicide Squad? Well it's clear that Enchantress/June Moon is going to be supernaturally gifted, and from the looks of these goons the Squad are fighting in the trailer, something magical is at work. Whether Waller is actively setting the stage for the mystical, supernatural side of the DCEU - home of Justice League Dark and Shazam - or calling on evil imagery (just as Lex Luthor did in Batman V Superman), it's a curious image. One we haven't been able to pin down just yet, but welcome any help!
Still Got It
It may seem unwise to give a bruised and beaten prisoner capable of shooting the wings off of a fly at 100 yards a pistol, but that's exactly what Amanda Waller and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) do in the above sequence. But while the editing makes it seem that this is Deadshot getting his firearms back after being 'released,' the details show this scene actually takes place long before. The rain jackets on the guards alone connect this shot to those seen before, mainly of him being beaten by Alpha-01, and Diablo being released from his watery cell in the midst of a rainstorm. It's hard to say, but from the looks of it, Flag and Waller may be examining Deadshot's skills for themselves - and his accuracy clearly guarantees his place on the team.
It feels like it's been months in the making - mainly because it has - but the 'Blitz' trailer finally gives a few looks at the flying weapons for which Boomerang takes his name. They look to be razor sharp, putting his chainmail glove to good use, and having us seriously excited to see how the special effects team have made flying boomerangs seem not just lethal, but worthwhile in place of other weapons. He's got a whole box full, just like the rest of his team's equipment, so who knows what unique 'rangs he's got stored in there...
Slipknot Slips Out?
Assuming that the explosives planted in the Squad's necks aren't just mentioned - because let's be honest, somebody's head is going to explode - then Slipknot is the obvious candidate. But in the comics, it's occasionally not just a detonator that triggers the explosive, but leaving the group behind, or straying too far. Since the scene in question appears to show Slipknot slipping away from the team (notice the pointed gun, and stunned looks), this could be our chance to watch the bombs do their thing. We would have hoped for a more substantial role from Beach, but if the fight on the ground is as weird as it seems, and someone needs to prove Amanda Waller isn't all talk... well, there's no good way out.
Midway City is Burning
If you need a reminder of just how little is actually known about the threat or enemy or forces that the title Squad will actually be fighting, this shot should drive the point home. Why is Midway City on fire? Why are its bridges destroyed? What could possibly cause such damage that would require this rag tag group of criminals and killers to bring down, instead of the actual forces they're deploying next to? We can't say for sure, but the objects that the Squad will be emptying their bullets into is getting clearer with every new asset released.
Whatever the reason the Squad gets sent into the city, their insertion goes wrong, in a big way. Assuming the city is the occupied warzone it seems to be, it's not out of the ordinary for the helicopter to be shot down. But what is odd is that previous trailers showed The Joker's lead henchman Jonny Frost (Jim Parrack) firing a minigun from the rear of another aircraft, so this may be the moment he makes his presence known, sending the entire team in for a hard landing.
The obvious question then becomes: why is The Joker or his henchman in this city in the first place? Has the Clown Prince of Crime upped his game to the point of taking over an American city? Or is he just showing up to cause even more trouble for the mission? That's probably a detail they'll be keeping close to their chest until release, but fans can make of these shots and crossing paths whatever they like, for now.
Chasing The Joker
As much as we sympathize with the fans who might see a glimpse of The Joker's neon supercar being chased down by a woman on a motorcycle and immediately think Batgirl, that's not the case. This is the first look at the chase between Harley Quinn - pre-transformation from doctor to homicidal harlequin - and her former patient. Previous set photos showed the end of the chase, with the two coming face to face, but exactly why Harley is tracking down Joker is the important question. Her origin story features a chemical bath quite prominently, and thanks to this new trailer, the bike chase is just one of the scenes preceding her 'rebirth' that we can dissect.
Unless Warner Bros. has decided to merge their Lord of the Rings universe with that of the DCEU, and throw wave after wave of Orcs at the Suicide Squad, we're at a bit of a loss. We suppose that any superhero team-up these days requires a horde of mindless enemies to take on, but their combination of what looks to be actual tactical gear with improvised weapons, including a stop sign, raise a lot of questions. Is it a viral outbreak along the lines of The Last of Us that has sent Midway City into a spiral? Are these monsters otherworldly in nature? A direct comparison is hard to find in the pages of DC Comics, but hopefully more details will be released soon.
A Unicorn, Because Why Not?
What is it about offbeat, oddball killers and their love of stuffed unicorns? Since Suicide Squad was presumably filmed far too long before Deadpool's infamous unicorn gag was public knowledge for this to be a direct reference, our imaginations can only come up with a few (thousand) explanations for Boomerang wielding a stuffed pink unicorn while decaptitating the enemies surrounding him. Is it a gift for a loved one, should he escape? A keepsake of relevance to his origin story? Or did he just finally find the right pink unicorn to complete his collection? We may never know... until the film releases, obviously.
A Mystical Destroyer?
The above scene, in which a strange, long-limbed creature splits a subway train in two, made its first appearance in the previous Suicide Squad trailer, and was hard to make heads or tails of in the context of the other sequences. We had our suspicions at the time that the creature was the mystery role played by Common, rumored among fans to be 'Tattooed Man,' given all of his... tattoos.
With a profile close to Common's, it looks like we can say it's likely him in the shot - but the abundance of both green and red, and the energy being shown here makes a different comic book identity seem a bit more likely. That's 'Doctor Mist', a figure blessed with mystical powers, and a less-than-loyal mission courtesy of the shadowy government organizations he's recruited into. It's still just speculation, but given the other supernatural hints and mystical elements, it seems the most likely answer. The character's connections to A.R.G.U.S. and Justice League Dark make it a particularly promising proposition for the future, too.
Given the shared color scheme between his energy used here and the melting effects seen elsewhere, he may be more closely tied to the plot than fans yet realize.
The Birth of Enchantress?
Here's another short shot that could reveal plenty about the story. Featuring Flag bursting in to a home smeared with muddy handprints, it would seem the most obvious link is to June Moon, seen as both an assistant to Flag in preparing for the mission, and briefly submerging into a bathtub surrounded by grass and mud. Perhaps the smears of mud are part of some ritual, or the result of June's frantic transformation from herself into the ancient being? Impossible to say for sure, but if nothing else, this scene raises interesting questions about the movie's timeline.
Weapon of Choice
Although it's a baseball bat that Harley Quinn seems to be carrying for most of the movie, the filmmakers did find one way to give her source material and fans a solid nod. The giant wooden mallet in Harley's hands looks to be just as well used (and effective) as the version in her animated appearances or comic books, but obviously isn't the right tool for this job. The sequence seems to take place as the Squad is still getting equipment and clothing sorted. If that's the case, then who knows how many more easter eggs could be coming in the same scene.
Batman Saves Harley
The next sequence is a bit tricky to follow, since creative editing confuses it with another liquid-based sequence. But put the pieces together in reverse order, and you've got the much talked about Batman-on-Joker's-car sequence, followed soon after by Joker smashing his car (with, presumably, himself and Harley inside) off of a bridge, and into the water below.
Ever the hero, it's up to Batman to save even criminals from drowning - luckily, he comes equipped as well as his comic book counterpart, firing a Bat-Respirator into his mouth before diving into the waters (check it out reflecting in his mouth... possibly with its very own Bat symbol).
It might be strange for fans of Batman strictly on the big screen to see him dive this effectively without any propulsion, but it can't help but seem that director David Ayer is just as concerned with delivering a cool dose of Batman as any other character. It would seem that these scenes are set before the movie's main action, since it would explain how Harley and Joker saw their run come to an end. That being said, it's possible the film's action could see both Harley and Joker escape, reuniting before Batman intervenes in their crime spree.
It could be most important, however, that it's only Harley that Batman is shown carrying back to the Batmobile. It's assumed that Harley has some reason to be apart from Joker, and the couple's on again, off again, mutually destructive relationship offers one major answer: Joker left Harley to die. We know, it seems cold, but the romance has mainly gone one way over the years. So comic fans wouldn't be shocked to see Joker dive out of the car, sending it and Harley in to the water - and her into a life of her own, fueled by resentment. Either way, Batman and Joker in the same scene is always a must.
It may be the most curious shot in the trailer, since it's hard to know just what is actually being shown. At first glance, it looks like Katana is being spun and turned by a glowing green tentacle (not that different from the ones shredding the subway train earlier in the trailer). With this strange external influence, she's swinging her sword towards Harley Quinn in the bottom right corner of frame. So, does the movie's villain turn Katana against the rest of her team? Who knows. But this shot seems to be revealing quite a bit about the conflicts and magic at work - even if we can't understand it without the whole picture.
It wouldn't be a Suicide Squad trailer without a few memorable moments from Harley Quinn, but the one seen above is technically showing the character before she became the blue and pink-haired weirdo we know and love. It would appear to be the shot moments before Harley emerges from the chemical baths (being raised from the liquid by Joker), as Dr. Harleen Quinzel falls from the factory supports into the vat. Where Joker is in this scene is a mystery, since the shot showing him taking off his jacket implies he's a bit frustrated, not enthused about creating a mate. The more nuance here, the better, however, so consider us enticed.
The Enchantress Takes a Host
Finally, as if the relationship between June Moon and her Enchantress alter ego wasn't complicated enough (while still having a mysterious link to the core plot, if at all), the above scene appears to show the actual mystical entity entering June's body. The rituals completed later on would imply that she at least knows what's happening, but it's possible that June's love of cave-diving simply led her onto an incredibly mystic path. If nothing else, the shot reveals that there may be more of a horror element to her character than fans initially thought.
Don't Make Him Angry
Finally, Diablo gets to do his thing. In certain versions of the comics, the pyromancer was determined never to go near fire again, after his obsession with it led to innocent deaths when a building burned down around them, all by his hand. The shots of the fire-wielder in his cell imply a man at peace, or in penance, but as Deadshot makes clear (by aggressively arguing with him) their mission requires that Diablo use all the powers at his disposal. Going by the above image, he's probably a force to be reckoned with when fully unleashed on an enemy.
Those are the shots, frames, suggestions, hints, and theories we think are most worth discussing, but what did you think of the trailer? Does knowing how much was actually put into the second trailer have you more confident, or less?
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One 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 Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on June 19, 2020.
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