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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

Harry Potter: The Questions You Keep Asking, Answered

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Draco Malfoy Harry Potter image
Warner Bros.

It’s been over 24 years since the first instalment of the Harry Potter series was published. But regardless of the length of time passed, many questions are still left unanswered. Fansites still tear apart page upon page looking for the key to unlock J. K. Rowling’s extraordinary mind. Interviewers have fired question after question at the infamous author. Yet, when one question is answered, it seems to open the flood gates for many more.

J. K. Rowling has now moved onto crime fiction. But she still finds the odd spare moment to grace Potter fans with her virtual presence. Using Twitter to answer some of the endless questions’ fans have conjured.

Let’s take a look at some of the most valid Harry Potter questions asked on Twitter and how J.K. Rowling answered them.

What happened to Fluffy the three-headed dog?

Poor Fluffy wasn’t mentioned again after being set free in the Forbidden Forest. Never fear! Rowling is here to tell us of Fluffy’s fate.

Back in February 2015, Rowling replied to the question on Twitter. stating that ‘He was repatriated to Greece. Dumbledore liked to put Hagrid’s more foolish acquisitions back where they belong.’

Beyond the happily ever after

A snapshot of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s Happily Ever After is presented at the end of the final book. The three (and Ginny) complete the circle by walking their own children to the Hogwarts train.

But, their lives developed much more than having children. As Rowling revealed back in 2007. Hermione began her career within the Ministry of Magic. She worked in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Here, she became instrumental in the improvements for the treatment of house-elves. After this, she moved to the Dept. of Magical Law Enforcement, where she ensured the eradication of pro-pureblood laws.

Harry and Ron took different paths. Harry became an aura, a highly trained law enforcement officer. Ron went into the family business, helping his brother run Weasley’s Wizarding Wheels.

Did Harry, Ron and Hermione return to their schooling?

There’s a huge gap at the end of The Deathly Hallows. The pages seem to jump from the defeat of Voldemort to 19 years later. So did the famous trio return to school?

Rowling stated that Hermione returned to Hogwarts to complete her NEWT’s. But Harry and Ron did not, instead, they followed their career paths straight away. Although, I’m pretty sure defeating the source of all evil scores big points on a C.V.

Harry’s scar shape is important, right?

Well, no. Unfortunately, Rowling just thought ‘it looked cool’.

Potter super-fans have other ideas, though. One Tweet back in 2019 revealed that the scar could symbolise much more. @TodayYearsOld Tweeted:

‘Did you know Harry Potter’s scar isn’t a lightning bolt, but the hand motion to cast Avada Kedavra.’

Avada Kedavra is a killing curse used within the Dark Arts. The hand movement looks like a lightning bolt, but much softer. Not surprisingly, the Tweet went viral and caused shock waves through the Potter community.

What does Hufflepuff’s common room look like?

We are taken on a trip to Slytherin and Ravenclaw’s common room, and we spend a lot of time in Gryffindor’s. So, when fans asked Rowling for a description, she was only too happy to oblige.

‘The Hufflepuff common room is accessed through a portrait near the kitchens, as I am sure you have deduced. Sorry – I should say ‘painting’ rather than portrait because it is a still-life. It is a very cosy and welcoming place, as dissimilar as possible from Snape’s dungeon. Lots of yellow hangings, fat armchairs, and underground tunnels leading to the dormitories. All of which have perfectly round doors, like barrel tops.’

Is there more than one Wizarding school?

If you are one of those people who watch the films before the books. You’ll have probably asked ‘Is Hogwarts the only school for wizards?’. In this instance, it’s the books that hold the key, and if you take notes in ‘The Goblet of Fire.’ Students from other schools arrive at Hogwarts to attend the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

The books reveal more about a couple of schools, such as the Palace of Beauxbatons. Beauxbatons is a beautiful chateau situated in the Pyrenees mountains of Southern France. Durmstrang is another, and one of the three largest in Europe. Durmstrang is situated in the northmost regions of Norway or Sweden and is known for its Dark Arts.

Rowling has since revealed more schools, including Castelobruxo, Mahoutokoro, Uagadou and Ilverymorny.

Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood end up together?

It’s a no, which has disappointed fans. But the two remained close friends as Luna followed a career in Wizarding Naturalism. She became famous for tracking rare creatures before marrying Rolf Scamander.

Neville married fellow Hogwarts student Hannah Abbot. Surprisingly, Neville became an aura before returning to Hogwarts as a Herbology Professor.

Did Draco Malfoy get his just desserts?

This is a big one for Potter fans who wished to see Draco pay for everything he subjugated Harry to. But, as The Deathly Hallows hints, it appears he went through a huge transformation.

Draco was a complex character, not only a member of Slytherin, but he was also a bully. But much of his behaviour came from his upbringing.

Draco tried to prove himself to the Dark Lord, only to be rescued by the three he often tormented. This caused him and his mother to neglect Voldemort once it was believed Harry was dead. The two avoided Azkaban, and he went into a very dark place, emotionally. But he emerged a changed man. He had a wife and a son, and a simple nod to the trio 29 years on seemed to solidify that he had changed.


Thanks for reading our article on unanswered Harry Potter questions now answered. Did you already know these? Did we miss any big ones? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out 5 Hidden Messages In Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows That You Missed HERE.

Read IMDB information on Harry Potter HERE.

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