Suicide Squad (2016) | Directed by David Ayer | Action/Adventure/Comedy | PG-13 | With Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Karen Fukuhara, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jay Hernandez, Ben Affleck, Scott Eastwood | Warner Bros Pictures/DC | Runtime: 123 minutes | Box Office: $732 million | Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%
Worst. Heroes. Ever.
Even worse villains, quite apparently.
Suicide Squad, DC’s latest misstep in its attempt to recreate Marvel’s success, was supposed to measure up to be two things: a thrill ride worthy of marking the halfway point of an excellent summer, and the biggest reason the look forward to Wonder Woman (2017), DC’s next-in-line.
Ironically, the latter has been achieved, because given the circumstances, it really can’t get much worse.
I mean c’mon now! This was the movie that was supposed to out-Deadpool Deadpool (2016)! Instead we get the most easily anticipated character arcs ever, and username LookI’mSoUnorthodox13’s favorite edgy playlist.
There’s good indication (also suggested by the teasing Justice League (2018) trailer released at SDCC) that DC, in the path of Marvel, is slowly defrosting to the much-advised idea of adding more lighthearted elements to the usual two hour slugfests. But they also just can’t seem to part with their cherished trademark grittiness. The product is some instance of comic-universe puberty, where mixing the best of both worlds doesn’t always produce the most appealing results. I think there’s some oft-used idiom about what to do if you can’t beat ‘em that applies here.
The entire experience sort of reminded me of Watchmen (2009)–if all the good parts of Watchmen had been cut out. The promised joyride doesn’t get you far, before you’re trapped in a swirling eddy of meaninglessness, and you find yourself asking questions like: What are her powers? Why is that guy here? Why am I supposed to care again?
I bought that they were bad guys the first 800 times it was mentioned, especially when it was by one of the bad guys themselves. In the end, I didn’t see anything that marked a deviation from the standard superhero convention, though the trailer would have you believe otherwise.
The whole movie piled up to be a pretty big train-wreck, and I eventually gave up trying to pinpoint where it started to be one. It seems to have been thought that gathering commonly success-producing ingredients (psychedelic special fx, classic hit songs, borderline themes, antiheroes, beloved actors, and a ton of money) and fermenting them haphazardly in a mixing bowl, it would somehow create a winner. I’d think that it would too.
But maybe that’s the problem. DC’s made three movies in it’s new extended universe so far, and they’ve all been aimed at producing record smashing blockbusters. They’ve been so sure of success with Suicide Squad, that an automatic sequel was announced before the film’s public release, with director David Ayer at the helm once again. Ironically, in setting the bar too high, they’ve doomed themselves from the start.
Instead of trying to beat Marvel at its own game too quickly, maybe what’s really needed is a start from scratch, and slowly but surely, playing around with things without a clear-cut purpose.Try without trying. Create with no strings attached. Maybe have some fun while at it. The DCEU hasn’t made up its mind on what it wants to be yet, and finding that niche needs to be a natural process.
Easier said than done of course. But if they continue down their current path, WB executives will really need to brace themselves for a tumultuous ride. Just like you should if you make the fatal decision to see Suicide Squad in theaters.