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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

Book To Movie Adaptations Coming Soon

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The House of Gucci image
Universal Pictures

It seems that Hollywood is on an adaptation bender these days. With the upcoming Dune film to the To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before Netflix franchise, there is a lot of money to be made in book to screen adaptations. And there are a ton of them in the works. Here’s 15 book to movie adaptations that will soon be coming to a screen near you.

1. The House of Gucci – November 24th, 2021

You don’t have to wait long to watch this true story unfold. Written by Sara Gay Forden, the book goes into the real-life whodunnit of the murder of Maurizio Gucci. Starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, this film is coming out this November.

2. Where the Crawdads Sing – June 24, 2022

This bestseller is going to premiere next summer on Netflix. The book, written by Delia Owens follows Kya; a young woman with a turbulent life, who becomes the prime suspect in a mysterious murder. Daisy Edgar-Jones is set to play Kya.

3. The Nightingale – December 23, 2022

The Nightingale, written by Kristin Hannah, follows the lives of two French sisters after their lives are torn apart by World War Two. The film stars sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning and is set to be released on 23 December 2022.

4. The School for Good and Evil – 2022

Written by Soman Chianani, The School for Good and Evil is a middle-grade standout. It takes place at twin schools that kidnap two children every year. Alongside the children of famous fairy-tale heroes and villains, these children are then trained at either the School for Good or the School for Evil. Eventually becoming the next generation of fairy tales. This film has big names in the cast, such as Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, and Kerry Washington. The main characters Sophie and Agatha will be played by Sophia Ann Caruso and Holly Sturton. Shadow and Bone mainstay Kit Young will also be in this adaptation. It has wrapped filming and will come out sometime in 2022.

5. All Quiet on the Western Front – 2022

Who else remembers reading this in school? The classic was written by Erich Maria Remarque and chronicles the horrors of World War One. The book is being adapted as a film by Netflix. It’s going to be directed by Edward Berger and will star Daniel Bruhl. This is actually the third time the book has been adapted for the screen and will premier in 2022.

6. House of the Dragon/ Fire and Blood – 2022

Rejoice Game of Thrones fans, there’s more coming your way. Based on the book Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin, this Game of Thrones spin-off follows the Targaryens 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones. It’s being produced by HBO and will be a ten-part limited series. It’s set to premiere in 2022.

7. Bridgerton (Season 2) – 2022

The pandemic hit Bridgerton has also been renewed for season two. The second season will cover The Viscount Who Loved Me, by Julia Quinn. This love story will centre around Anthony Bridgerton. There’s no official release date, but speculation puts it at 2022.

8. A Discovery of Witches (Season 3) – 2022

AMC +’s Discovery of Witches has been renewed for season three. The show is based on Deborah Harkness’All Souls Trilogy. It centres around actors Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer as a vampire and witch who fall in love. It’s set to premiere sometime in 2022.

9. Shadow and Bone (Season 2) – 2022/2023

Netflix’s Shadow and Bone has been confirmed for a second season. It will cover the events of the second book, Siege and Storm. It’s also unclear if it will dip into the Six of Crows duology. You can read more of our coverage of season two of Shadow and Bone here.

10. Ninth House – TBD

Written by the same author of Shadow and Bone, Ninth House is Leigh Bardugo’s adult fiction series. It follows Yale freshman Alex Stern, who has the ability to see ghosts. She is hired to oversee the dark magical dealings of Yale’s secret societies and gets caught up in forces beyond her imagination. Picked up less than two days after its release in 2019, Ninth House is in the works for an Amazon series adaptation. The show does not have a release date yet and is still in pre-production. Leigh Bardugo is currently writing both the sequel and the show, according to her Instagram.

11. They Both Die at the End – TBD

When Mateo and Rufus are told that they will die, they befriend each other to enjoy their last day. After the project fizzled out at HBO, They Both Die at the End has now been picked up for a tv show by Entertainment One. The show will also be written by the author of the book, Adam Silvera. There is no release date yet.

12. The Selection – TBD

A staple of 2010s dystopian fiction, The Selection by Kiera Kass is right up there with Divergent and the Maze Runner. The Selection follows America Singer, who is selected to compete in a Bachelor-like competition to select the next Queen. What feels frivolous quickly becomes a high-stakes competition for the fate of the country. The Selection is set to premiere on Netflix as a movie. Haifaa Al-Mansour is attached to direct. You can expect to be able to watch The Selection in mid-2021.

13. The Red Queen – TBD

Another mainstay of mid-2010’s dystopia is the Red Queen series, by Victoria Aveyard. The Red Queen is set in a world divided by blood colour. The silver-blooded have superpowers and rule over the kingdom. The red-blooded are powerless; living in poverty and serving as cannon fodder to the war. But when red-blooded Mare Barrow reveals the power to manipulate lightning, everything changes. Elizabeth Banks is executive producing and directing The Red Queen for a TV series at Peacock. She will also play a key role. We’re still waiting on a release date, but Aveyard has co-written the pilot.

14. Blackout – TBD

Blackout is a collection of short stories following black teenagers who stumble upon love in the middle of a blackout in New York City. Authors include Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, and Ashley Woodfolk. The collection is going to be adapted into a six-part anthology on Netflix. The Obamas are actually producing Blackout under their flagship Higher Ground banner and Temple Hill. There is no release date yet.

15. Long Way Down – TBD

Written by Jason Reynolds, Long Way Down takes place in the sixty seconds the main character decides whether or not to murder the man who killed his brother. It’s being adapted into a feature film by Universal and is produced by John Legend and Michael De Luca. There is no release date yet.


That’s our list of 15 book to movie adaptations coming out soon. Which one are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out the five things you missed in Bridgeton Season One HERE.

Read iMDB information on The House of Gucci HERE.

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