Sunday, July 31, 2016

Anticipating Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad had a fantastic trailer; it was so good that even though I've disliked most of DC's screen projects lately and I'm a little tired of comic-book movies in general, I've really been looking forwards to Suicide Squad ever since that first trailer. Such is the power of Queen I suppose.

But now that the movie is almost here, I've starting thinking about just how badly this could all go wrong. Let's take a look at some DC superheros shall we? We've got Superman himself, the big blue boyscout, the most well-known icon of super-heroism (both in DC's fictional universe and in the actual real world), who's logo is the Kryptonian symbol for hope. Wonder Woman, the symbol of truth and equality, who was sent to Man's world as an envoy of peace. Batman may be increasing seen as a dark character, but he's always been fighting for what's right, devoting himself entirely to protecting the innocent. The Justice League themselves are DC's premier superhero team, icons and inspirations to those they protect.

And how did Batman v Superman, DC's movie about these champions of light, turn out? It was so dark and depressing that it literally started and ended with funerals. Almost all the characters were violent psycopaths casually murdering people and picking fights with each other for no good reason. I've never left a movie theater feeling so down, so thoroughly drained.

If that's how DC makes a movie about it's brightest stars, it's most noble paragons of virtue, then what they hell are they going to do with a movie about a bunch of psychopathic killers forced to undertake suicidal missions under pain of death? I'm half expecting the name Suicide Squad to prove unexpectedly suitable as the entire audience spontaneously commits suicide after watching the movie... although to be honest, I don't really see how it could possible be any more depressing than the B.S. movie, so maybe not.

Ironically, the trailers are selling this as a light-hearted comedy. How backwards is that? And while a light-hearted comedy sounds good to me, I'm actually going to say that I think it's important they don't go too far; this movie actually should have some darkness in it considering the subject matter and source material.

Specifically, there's a few traps I'm worried they might fall into:
1. Having most or all of the team survive at the end.
2. Having the team basically all be good guys at the end (Guardians of the Galaxy style).

For the first point, they're called the Suicide Squad for a reason: they are specifically sent on missions so suicidal that even Uncle Sam's darkest of black-ops divisions aren't willing to commit their own people to. They should not all make it out alive (especially as most of the team should have no trust, teamwork, or willingness to take orders). Even Marvel killed characters (ostensibly) in some of their movies, like Age of Ultron; DC should not be afraid to do so here. And I'm not talking about knocking off a disposable character or two that we never really cared about; I think there should be actual, meaningful deaths.

As for the second point, it's important to remember that these characters are predominantly psychopathic killers who have commit crimes so serious that their only hope of ever seeing the light of day again is to accept missions so dangerous that they are, you know, downright suicidal. These are bad guys, I don't want the movie to forget that. It might sound a little dark (perhaps uncharacteristically so for me), but I want to see characters betraying each other, putting their own interests first, and so on.

Both of these are things I've seen in the comics. I haven't actually read too much Suicide Squad, but in the few issues I did read some characters died while other's betrayed the team. That's part of what made the series so unique and different; genuinely not knowing what the cast was going to do or who was going to survive was a big part of what made it so strong, and it's what I think they need to do here. I'm especially worried about Harley Quinn: she's become such a fan favourite now (which I believe the Arkham games are partly responsible for) that the trailers basically make her look like the star; this worries me because I fear that the writers will basically turn her into the hero.

But she's not a hero: she's an insane criminal who practically worships a psychopathic killer in a clown suit. If she doesn't stab a team-mate in the spine and run off to play house with the Joker at the worst possible time, I'll be very disappointed.

Now that's not to say that I want the movie to be entirely about bad people doing bad things; far from it. It's important to me that there be characters we can care about, sympathize with, and root for. I just don't think that should be true of all of them, given the subject matter.

Having said all that I'm still pretty hopeful. I mean, I enjoyed Deadpool a great deal despite disliking or hearing bad things about every other Fox comic book movie, so maybe DC can pull off a good Suicide Squad. I guess if you're determined to make all your comic books movies really dark, then maybe a dark comedy is something you could actually make work, right?

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