Somehow, Suicide Squad hits movie theaters this weekend.
I mean that in a few different ways.
- Somehow, DC Comics latest movie is tracking to a $140MM – $150MM opening weekend despite being chokeslammed through the announce table by critics.
- Somehow, this movie hasn’t come out yet. I feel like Suicide Squad has been “coming out next week” since March.
- Somehow, in this summer devoid of hits, a much-hyped, highly-anticipated, fan-service movie that cost $175MM to make needs to make $850MM for the studio to consider it ‘breaking even.’
None of this makes sense. None of it.
In any other movie, a cast consisting of Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Viola Davis, and Jared Leto would be considered an All-Star cast. In any other movie, the idea of forming a super team of ‘bad guys’ to battle something even more evil is immediately intriguing. In any other movie, the pop culture consuming masses would be using a movie like this as a jumping off point to theorize about spin-offs and sequels for the next 10 years.
So why is the general consensus for this movie so iffy and “meh” for something that seems like it should be exactly what we want?
Suicide Squad, the latest entry in the DC & Warner Brothers plan to combat the Marvel Studios juggernaut hit machine, is DC Cinematic Universe of Guardians of the Galaxy, in theory. It’s a story about a ragtag bunch of misfits thrown together by chance to complete a mission no one else is willing to do. Guardians made a ton of money and racked up billions in respect points for the Marvel brand, all of them earned because on paper Guardians should not have been a hit. It featured characters the general masses didn’t know or care about. It featured a talking raccoon and a living tree person. The lead was the 5th billed guy on Parks and Rec— a show almost no one watched. But it all worked incredibly well and now Marvel has as a brand new franchise on its hands.
So why isn’t this going to work for DC? They took the same idea– a huge ensemble picture with characters seldom known to a mass audience– and juiced it up with stars people know and love. Isn’t that a slight improvement on the model? Warner Brothers was so amped up about this tonal shift (Bad Guys as Good Guys/ Anti-Heroes as the Protagonists), they started releasing clips, and posters, and trailers months in advance to give the people what they want. So where is all of this backlash coming from?
I think I’ve figured it out. Marvel has been doing this for so long that anything DC does is immediately seen as a response as opposed their own unique approach to storytelling.
But how incredibly unfair is that to DC and Warner Brothers? Why can’t we just let them tell the story they want, no matter how bloated, misguided, and confused it looks? How can anything beat expectation when the expectation is “be better than and make more money than The Avengers?”
DC is in the unfortunate spot of going second, and it will be that way for the foreseeable future, which is unfortunate because this movie could actually be pretty fun. If you can somehow separate the Everest-sized mountain of hype and watch this movie without wondering if Killer Croc could take Drax in a fight, or if Amanda Waller is a better government liaison than Samuel L. Jackson, there is a good chance you could walk out of this movie having enjoyed it.
That’s what I’m going to try to do, anyway. Wish me luck.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT (via Rotten Tomatoes): From director David Ayer (“Fury,” “End of Watch”) comes “Suicide Squad,” starring Oscar nominee Will Smith (“Ali,” “The Pursuit of Happyness”), Oscar winner Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Focus”), Joel Kinnaman (Netflix’s “House of Cards”) and Oscar nominee Viola Davis (“The Help,” “Doubt”). It feels good to be bad… Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?