Suicide Squad has quite a lot to prove. As the third entry in DC’s fledgling movieverse, director David Ayer’s villain ensemble not only has to convince audiences that a film focused on the likes of Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, and Harley Quinn can stand on its own, but also try and restore some goodwill after Batman v Superman alienated audiences earlier this year. Fortunately, Suicide Squad looks like it’s up to the task. The film has an excellent cast of A-listers and up-and-comers, and also benefits from a smart and successful advertising campaign heading into opening weekend. There’s also been a lot of positive word of mouth coming out of early screenings, which doesn’t necessarily mean the film will score with general audiences, but definitely won’t hurt its chances either.
When you break it all down, Suicide Squad could easily be the best DC Comics adaptation since 2008’s The Dark Knight, arguably the last truly great film to come from the company. It probably won’t surpass that film in terms of overall quality, but here are a few reasons why Suicide Squad will be the film that gets the DC movieverse back on track.
10. It Will Expand The DC Universe Dramatically
The DC movieverse is still very much in its infancy and as such, there’s still plenty of opportunity for Warner Bros to make adjustments as they go and to take the franchise in a practically unlimited number of directions. Suicide Squad presents a unique opportunity for future expansion, as it features a colorful cast of characters with stories of their own to tell. That means that we could potentially see a whole bunch of spin-offs that go well beyond expected fare like more Superman and Batman movies, and indeed there are already rumors that Warner Bros is considering spin-offs for Harley Quinn, Joker, and Captain Boomerang. Hey, Suicide Squad must be doing something right if it’s convincing people that Captain Boomerang can hold down his own movie!
9. Focus On New Characters
When you think about it, making Suicide Squad the third entry in the still-new DC movieverse is pretty gutsy, as general audiences know a heck of a lot less about this group of characters than they do Batman or Superman. That being said, Marvel Studios has proven in recent years that B-list and even C-list characters can play well with audiences and in many ways, Suicide Squad is like DC’s very own Guardians of the Galaxy; it’s weird, fun, and focused primarily on characters many people aren’t very familiar with. That sounds like a potential recipe for disaster but considering mediocre this summer’s blockbusters have been and how much hype Warner Bros has been able to generate for it, film goers are very likely to take to this lovable band of deranged antiheroes and villains.
8. It Doesn’t Take Itself Too Seriously
Although there’s a good chance that Suicide Squad won’t be quite as fun as the film that’s been presented to us in those kinetic trailers so far, it’s fair to say that this is a movie that is definitely not taking itself too seriously. While it’s true that not every superhero film needs to poke fun at itself to be good (see: The Dark Knight), Suicide Squad’s brash, off-kilter style is just the shot in the arm the still fledgling DC movieverse needs right now. It’s easy to forget that Suicide Squad is a film where murderous villains are the heroes because everyone seems to be having so much fun.
And fun is something this film seems to have in spades, which is more than can be said for DC’s recent output. Green Lantern tried to be fun but just came off as incredibly cheesy, while Batman v Superman’s idea of fun is killing off Jimmy Olsen. Heck, if Suicide Squad can make Jai Courtney seem fun and engaging, there’s something special going on.
7. Batman v Superman’s Failure Is A Lesson
Even though Suicide Squad director David Ayer was adamant that the film’s spring reshoots weren’t done to add more humor in the wake of the overly serious and heavily criticized Batman v Superman, Warner Bros would be foolish to repeat the same mistakes with Suicide Squad. Batman v Superman was a relative box office success, but its critical drubbing has cast a cloud over the DC movieverse that the company seems to be determined to get out from under. One only need look at the recent Comic-Con trailers for Wonder Woman and Justice League to see that Warner Bros has been making some significant adjustments behind-the-scenes and while Suicide Squad represents only the beginning of the rebuilding process, it will go a long way in repairing DC’s reputation if critics and audiences walk away impressed.
6. David Ayer Is On A Hot Streak
David Ayer doesn’t yet have the name recognition of a Christopher Nolan or Joss Whedon, but Suicide Squad may very well be the film that puts him into Hollywood A-list territory. It also helps that Ayer has quite an impressive directing resume leading into Suicide Squad, with the excellent End of Watch (2012) and Fury (2014) displaying his talent for gritty subject matter and, in the case of Fury, handling an ensemble cast. Hopefully Ayer will get his wish and get to make an R-rated sequel down the line, as Suicide Squad’s PG rating shackles Ayer a bit in terms of being able to push the envelope, but there’s no reason to think that his hot streak won’t continue with Suicide Squad.
5. Jared Leto’s Joker
Jared Leto’s Hot Topic Joker has easily been the most controversial element of Suicide Squad ever since the first photo of the actor in costume was released. Although the backlash against Leto seems to have cooled considerably in the lead-up to the film’s release, his performance is still Suicide Squad’s biggest question mark. Leto is a talented actor and, terrible make-up design be damned, he certainly has the chops to pull off a memorable, absolutely bonkers Joker performance. Will he live up to Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the character? Probably not, considering it’s difficult for any actor to follow in the footsteps of a posthumous performance from an actor operating at his best, but even so, Leto’s Joker will be certainly be interesting to watch even if it turns out to be a Razzie-quality performance.
4. A Welcome Change Of Pace
Suicide Squad has morphed into a much bigger film than Warner Bros and DC likely envisioned even just a few years ago, as it’s only the third entry in the still wet behind the ears DC movieverse. It’s now a film that’s arguably just as important as Man of Steel or Batman v Superman and the great thing is that it is a heck of a lot different from both of those movies. Yeah, it’s still dark and gritty, and even features Batman in a few scenes, but it also establishes magic — honest-to-goodness magic — in the form of the film’s villain Enchantress, something that even Marvel hasn’t done much of yet (and they’re almost a decade deep into the game at this point). DC movies have a reputation for being more grounded and less fantastical than what Marvel puts out, but Suicide Squad will show that they are capable of changing things up and taking chances, which is refreshing in a market where superhero films are starting to look and feel more and more alike.
3. It Doesn’t Have (Much) Baggage
One of the main reasons Christopher Nolan’s trilogy capper The Dark Knight Rises came up short was that it had to follow The Dark Knight, which is still considered by many to be the greatest comic book movie of all time. Admittedly, it’s not a great film to begin with, riddled with plot holes, bad fight choreography and, perhaps worst of all, not enough BATMAN, but even if TDKR had been a better movie, people would still think less of it because it’s not The Dark Knight. Fortunately, Suicide Squad doesn’t come equipped with much baggage other than following a pretty terrible Batman / Superman movie; it’s a new franchise based on a relatively obscure set of comics that will be new territory for most of those who venture out to see it. Sometimes, not knowing what to expect can be a good thing, especially in a genre that’s crowded with so many sequels.
2. The Competition Hasn’t Exactly Been Strong
A total of seven films based on DC properties have been released since The Dark Knight, although for the sake of argument I’m just going to talk about Green Lantern, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, and Batman v Superman, as the other three are only tangentially connected. In the eight years since The Dark Knight’s release, DC hasn’t exactly been killing it with their live action filmmaking. The Dark Knight Rises was a competently made, but disappointing follow-up to The Dark Knight; Man of Steel had some good ideas, but was kind of a bad Superman story; and Batman v Superman was, in a word, terrible (and the less said about Green Lantern, the better). Really, Suicide Squad could merely be good and it would already be better than any of the previously mentioned films,
1. Early Reviews Have Been Overwhelmingly Positive
Fan expectations for Suicide Squad are high thanks primarily to the film’s excellent marketing campaign and it turns out that those high hopes appear to be justified. Warner Bros hosted a few test screenings in early June and reports indicate that most viewers walked away very pleased with what they’d seen. Highlights so far include Margot Robbie’s performance, the actions scenes, and the overall pacing. Unfortunately, the film’s villain, Enchantress, seems to be the film’s main drawback, but that’s true of almost every superhero movie. Oh and according to Reddit user trevormax1234, Suicide Squad blows the past three DC films out of the water: “I can swear to you this one is different. From someone who hasn’t even liked the past 3 DC Film releases (‘Dark Knight Rises,’ ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘BvS’). This IS the best DC film since the ‘Dark Knight.'”
We’ll all find out for sure when Suicide Squad hits theaters this Friday.