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What Went Wrong? DC’s Suicide Squad

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Reviewing a bad movie that could’ve been better

The Suicide Squad movie image
Warner Bros.

We’re continuing to take an extended look at big budget films based on popular material that bombed. Ok, here goes, it’s time for…Suicide Squad (2016) a bad movie that could and should’ve been so much better.

Sometimes these movies are redeemable (and occasionally, when you take a look back to at them, you can argue a “bad” movie wasn’t that bad at all). Sometimes a movie is just bad and has little to no redeeming qualities. For instance, the last time I wrote about the magnificent dumpster fire that was Super Mario Bros. The less said about that the better.

This time, I’m taking a look at 2016’s Suicide Squad and why it’s a bad movie.

This one, much like Super Mario Bros, had a lot going for it in a bad way. High concept, high expectations, great cast…lousy output. There was so much hope behind this movie. Yet it all crashed and burned in such a dramatic fashion.

So, today we’re taking a look at one of the most spectacular disappointments in the recent history of superhero movies. Note: there are ***MINOR SPOILERS*** in places here (though I’ll try to keep it as limited as possible and focus more on analysis than plot points).

Why It Was Bad

I mean, there’s a lot to unpack in understanding why Suicide Squad was a bad movie. But let’s take a look at some of the major issues going on here. And when you get right down to it, the biggest issues with Suicide Squad are what didn’t happen with it. There was so much potential for it to be a good movie that could launch a series of franchises. But that didn’t happen.

For instance, let’s look at Justice League. Justice League was essentially Batman vs. Superman 2: Here Are Some Other Guys. Wonder Woman and Aquaman ended up doing alright for themselves remember. But, the other characters were strong supporting players to the central Batman and Superman story. They weren’t meant to stand by themselves.

All the members of the Suicide Squad rogue gallery were DC Comics powerhouses. They had the potential to launch their own series.

They were complex and detailed characters grouped together in an interesting premise. That premise what if we picked a bunch of bad guys and had them team up and be awesome? But if you watched Suicide Squad, you know that’s not what happened. It’s not an ensemble piece with equal contributions from all the different characters. It’s the Will Smith and Margot Robbie show.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Will Smith and Margot Robbie are strong performers. Will Smith is a proven commodity that has carried many movies and franchises (some of which are good, some of which are After Earth). Robbie was the unquestioned breakout performer who is now a 2-time Oscar nominee. Also, she reinvigorated the Harley Quinn character. Then starred in the certainly more critically appreciated Birds of Prey.

But that’s not what Suicide Squad was supposed to be about and part of the reason it’s a bad movie. It had so many quality characters in it that could have expanded and improved the DCEU. There was El Diablo, Rick Flag, Amanda Waller, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, and Slipknot. But, the movie became overly focused on the interplay between Harley Quinn and Deadshot. The others were kind of thrown in there for good measure.

This is a film about a rogue’s gallery and group of DC Comics villains, but it can be argued that, maybe…these bad guys aren’t really all that bad? Another thing that hurt the movie.

Obviously the zeitgeist of much of American cinema and television over the last 10-15 years or so. Which has focused on the sympathetic anti-hero, and Suicide Squad certainly leaned into that in spots. But this was a movie about villains, doing villainous things. Suicide Squad didn’t do enough to explore that aspect of the characters.

It’s one thing to make a villain so engrossing that you can’t help but enjoy him, but to neuter them and take away what makes them work? That takes an interesting set of characters and makes them boring. And more than anything, boring is a series killer…and essentially, that’s what this movie did. Except for Harley Quinn, no other character got any kind of follow-up from this movie.

Considering that the DCEU has struggled for years to launch any kind of meaningful franchise. That’s certainly harmful to the DCEU’s creative and financial prospects. Marvel Studios got a plethora of strong spinoff franchises from their central Avengers platform. DCEU has gotten a pretty good Wonder Woman movie, a surprise Aquaman hit, and…not much else.

But Wait, What About the Joker?

I don’t want to talk about The Joker.

…OK, since I’m writing this article about Suicide Squad being a bad movie, I guess I have to talk about Jared Leto and what he did with The Joker.

Let me start by saying that I have no issue with people taking artistic license and creativity. In fact, if you fully commit to an original and interesting interpretation in film. It can be a thought-provoking and engrossing exercise in creative license and originality. For instance, in my review of Super Mario Bros, I noted that one of the biggest issues with the movie was that it seemed to want to go full steampunk/dystopian with the Super Mario universe. But never fully committed to it. Had it gone all the way with this idea, it would have been shocking to say the least but it would have at least it would have been an interesting new twist.

The same goes for The Joker character. There have been so many terrific takes on The Joker over the years that have gone in different directions but have all been fantastic. Cesar Romero was over-the-top and campy to the extreme. Jack Nicholson was equal parts loveable and terrifying. Mark Hamill brought the dark edge to the cartoon version of the character.

Heath Ledger played a…well, I’m not even sure exactly how to describe what he did with The Joker. Other than that he became the first actor in a comic-book inspired movie to won an Oscar. His version of the character is arguably in the top five movie villain performances of all time (in any genre). Joaquin Phoenix’s performance had its issues to be sure. But he provided more backstory and potential sympathy to the character than anyone else had done. And certainly gave us one of the most intriguing origin stories for the “Joker” name that I’ve ever seen.

Jared Leto? He tried to pick “all the above” but failed. One of the biggest issues was that his portrayal was still relatively close, time-wise, to Heath Ledger’s iconic take. It would have been impossible for anyone to live up to those lofty expectations. But Joaquin Phoenix created his own original take on the role that also landed him an Academy Award. So that wasn’t an issue for him. FUN FACT: The Joker and Vito Corleone are the only two characters in movie history where two different actors have won an Oscar for portraying them.

The issue with Leto is that he tried to do a mashup of everything that came before him but didn’t do anything well enough. He was a little campy (but not enough to be anything other than irritating). Leto was a little threatening (but less in a Nicholson-mobster way and more in a punk-rock goth high schooler who wants to beat you up at lunch). He was also a little off-kilter with a weird way of talking (but nothing near what Ledger did). In essence, he was a jack of all trades and a master of none. Also, he was in the movie for about ten minutes of screen time. In essence, he tried to do too much, didn’t do any of it well, and wasn’t around to make anything work well enough to catch on.

How could Suicide Squad have been better?

As noted earlier, one of the biggest issues with Suicide Squad is that the focus was too much on Will Smith’s character. After all, he was the biggest star on the payroll. But that casting choice, and the decision to focus so much on him, took the spotlight away from everyone else in the movie. It neutered what could have been an amazing group of villains.

The fact is, people (especially hardcore DCEU and comic fans in general) were always going to come see this movie. It wasn’t necessary to build it around an established star because the content itself was the star. For instance, look at what happened with The Hunger Games: it was a popular book series that people were going to come see no matter what. So, they took a gamble on a relatively inexperienced yet talented actress in Jennifer Lawrence to play Katniss and let the story sell itself. By doing so, Lawrence became a superstar and the Hunger Games movies made a ton of money.

So why not try the same thing with Suicide Squad to stop it being a bad movie? To make the movies better, all they really needed to do was let the characters have equal screen time. Let them do what they do best, and let the audience fall in love with who they wanted to and use that to drive the future DCEU movies. If they would have done that, the movie would have been more successful. It would have spawned countless successful spinoffs, much like Marvel did with their Avengers series.

And yeah, maybe don’t shoehorn The Joker in there if it isn’t necessary…

Should We Be Worried About the DCEU?

Can the New Suicide Squad (2021) Remake Not Mess It Up This Time?

At this point, the DCEU doesn’t exactly have the best track record for their movie canon. But the fact is that – other than a few outliers – DC isn’t as far behind Marvel. This is in terms of gross income, return on investment, and critical reviews as you might think. In fact, other than the Marvel outliers that are far ahead of the pack for critical and commercial success (specifically Avengers: Endgame, Infinity War, and Black Panther) DCEU is still battling it out with them.

Source: the-numbers.com and rottentomatoes.com

So how can DC Comics and their movie franchise make up the gap? As noted in the chart above, DC’s biggest critical successes are movies like The Dark Knight, Wonder Woman, A History of Violence, and Shazam!. Its biggest commercial successes are movies like The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises, Joker, and Aquaman. Some of DC’s lowest-rated and least successful movies are ones like Justice League, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and of course Suicide Squad.

Looking at all those movies. It’s clear that the key for the success of the DCEU ties directly into what I said earlier about how Suicide Squad could have been better. Take a character – or characters – that people care about. Then make them three-dimensional and interesting. Oh and then and let those characters tell a good story that evolve naturally and play to the strengths of everyone involves. Their biggest flops, movies like Suicide Squad, are overpacked ensemble films. Ones where they try to do too much all at once but don’t do anything well in particular.

So then, how does DC Comics turn it around on the big scree and make the new Suicide Squad remake into a success?

Follow the recipe for their success and take what I said earlier to heart. Let each character have their arc. Stay true to what made people like them in the comics. Or at the very least come up with a new vision and stick with it. And let the story unfold in an engaging way that isn’t rushed. Don’t rely on too many gimmicks that will either be undeveloped or fall flat.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t bring back The Joker if you don’t need him!


Thanks for reading this edition of historic movie bombs that could have been better aka Suicide Squad, a bad movie. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


More of our bad movie reviews HERE

Read IMDB information on Suicide Squad HERE.

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Comics & Literature

DC Fandome 2021 – Revelations, Trailers and the future

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Black Adam image
DC Comics

At the recent virtual DC Fandome 2021 over 66 million fans tuned in across 220 countries. They listened in 12 different languages. All to find out the scoop on what’s to come for the comic book franchise, new DC revelations and even watch trailers of soon to be released films and TV shows.

But, if you weren’t one of the millions to be watching from home, below is the Film, TV and Gaming announcements and revelations that would interest any DC fan.

FILMS

Black Adam

DC Fandome 2021 started with a world exclusive trailer of Black Adam! The man himself Dwayne Johnson. Along with a host of the films other stars including Pierce Brosnan, Aldis Hodge, Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo. They introduce themselves and the exclusive trailer.

During the 4-minute intro below, you see Johnson excitably launch his passion project. He explains how much the Black Adam universe means to him. We are also told that the film is currently in post-production with the film being released on the 29th of July 2022.

We don’t get much information or storyline from the trailer. But Dwayne’s enthusiasm for the character and the gritty darkness of what we do get in the trailer is enough, for now, to keep us excited about this Movie.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

During the day’s events, Jason Momoa was on hand to give fans an in-depth dive into the world of Aquaman. Firstly, apologising for the four-year wait. However, Momoa and director James Wan appeased fans with a host of behind-the-scenes clips. Plus a glimpse of some unusual conceptual art. Which included quirky looking desert creatures and giant grasshoppers.

We have also been promised by Wan that we are going to be getting a film that’s more mature, giving the audience something new, exciting and an experience we haven’t seen before. The 2-and-a-half-minute look into the sequel, below, was enough to make any fan excited for its theatrical release in December 2022.

DC’s League of Super-Pets

A fun animated adventure was also announced. DC’s League of Super-Pets will bring super-pets like Krypto and Ace the Bat-Hound to life for the first time.

In an exclusive trailer, fans were introduced to the two pups, voiced by Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, in a light-hearted look into the film. The full movie voice by the comedy pairing along with some other famous names such as Keanu Reeves and Vanessa Bayer is set to be released next November.

The Flash

Another film trailer to hit the DC Fandome 2021 screens was The Flash. Portrayed once again by Ezra Miller and directed by Andy Muschietti. Fans were introduced to the trailer and the concept of the film, where the Flash unlocks the DC cinematic universe. He time hops back to the ’90s where Michael Keaton, reprises his role, he originated in 1989’s ‘Batman’ and 1992’s ‘Batman Returns’.

We’re elated that we get another film with Michael Keaton as Batman. Even if the storyline does sound a little farfetched. We’re sure Muschietti will get the narrative across perfectly and the film will be an instant hit. The film is due to hit cinemas in November 2022.

The Batman

The DC Fandome 2021 team knew exactly what they were doing when they left the release of the second Batman trailer to the very end of the day. Like fans around the world, we also couldn’t wait to see more of Patterson, fully suited up, showcasing his gritty take on the hero. Director Matt Reeves, Robert Pattinson (Batman) and Zoe Kravitz (Selina Kyle/ cat woman) were there to lead the trailers release.

Granted the jury is still out if Patterson can pull of the dark knight or not but we have to admit we are excited to see him in action. We also have a sneaky suspicion that for the first time in a film setting since Michelle Pfeifferthey may have nailed the casting for Selina Kyle with Zoe Kravitz. We don’t have long left to find all this out though, as after a few Covid related interruptions Batman is now set to be released in theatres on March 4th, 2022.

Injustice and Catwoman: Hunted

If some of these DC film releases seem a little far away, fear not because we were also made aware that two animated films will be released quite soon. With Injustice’s release this October and an anime-inspired animated DC offering in the form of Catwoman on February the 8th 2022, both the feature-length animations will be available on digital, 4K and Blu-ray. To take a sneak peak of Catwoman: Hunted you can watch the trailer below.

RETURNING TV

When it came to the TV side of the DC world there were a lot of announcements and trailers mainly around continuing shows such as, Titans, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Stargirl along with the more anticipated trailers for:

Batwoman

Has been renewed for another season, despite the departure of Ruby Rose. The new trailer showcased its new Batwoman – Ryan Wilder played by Javicia Leslie.

Doom Patrol

Is set to be returning for a fourth season. During the announcement followers of the show were treated to a wonderfully odd and endearing mid-season trailer.

The Flash

Is set for yet another inter-universe team up as The Flash team takes on a deadly mission against the ‘Armageddon’ villains. Which could decide the fate of humankind. The villainous gang is headed up by Tony Cuttan as Despero, Arrowverse’s Tom Cavanagh as Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash and Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk.

NEW TV

Peacemaker

First seen in this summer’s ‘The Suicide Squad’ Movie, John Cena’s comedic take of the Peacemaker is set to have its own HBO Max show. The fun and quirky trailer to the first series premiered at the event. Along with a behind the scenes look at the making of the series. It shows that director James Gunn is staying true to his unique, comedic style. The Trailer also shows the other great actors involved in the series including the hilarious ‘Orange is the New Black’ star Danielle Brooks, Christopher Heyerdahl, Robert Patrick and Jennifer Holland. This eight-episode series is set to be released on 13 January.

The Sandman

Viewers of the event didn’t find out much about this Netflix offering. But we did get glimpses of Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar. Wwhich let’s be honest along with the announcement that this is actually happening, is enough to get most of us DC fans excited about its release. There is no release date yet but I’m sure over the coming months there will be more announcements about this extraordinarily dark and forbidding series.

NAOMI

Based on the comic book series of the same name created by Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker and Jamal Campbell. The TV adaptation of the story was announced with a one-minute ten-second trailer. This superhero drama is based around a comic book-loving teenager who discovers she has superpowers. Her curiosity leads her onto a journey into the Multiverse in search of answers. We haven’t got a definitive release date yet, but we have been promised it will be in 2022.

GAMES

Suicide squad: Kill the Justice League

Since the announcement of this game at last year’s Fandome we haven’t had much information or even any gameplay footage. However, at this year’s event, we did get quite an in-depth trailer and a little look at the storyline. In this game, the player gets a choice of playing Harley Quinn, King Shark, Captain Boomerang or Deadshot. As they take on a new mission against an alien threat that has brainwashed the Justice League. There is still no hint to a release date or even a gameplay trailer, but we have been assured 2022 will be full of hints about the game and hopefully a conclusive release date.

Gotham Knights

Another game trailer that was released at the Fandome, that excited fans across the world was Gotham Knights. Continuing its Arkham-style adventures, Games Montreal has been working hard on the narrative and gameplay functions of this game. This game, in particular, was supposed to be released sometime in 2021 but it was delayed and we have now got a 2022 release time frame.

In this game you get to play a number of characters including Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, and Red Hood in an open-world action online RPG in order to uncover secrets and take down the Court of Owls.


So there you have it, some of the top DC new from the Fandome 2021. What do you think about all the new announcements? What are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below..


Read our review of DC’s The Suicide Squad HERE.

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