So. Suicide Squad. According to the majority of the critics, this is a movie the general audiences should skip. Even those who have acknowledged the movie's positive aspects said that it cannot be considered more than a hot mess. And this is disappointing. Not from the perspective of a DC movies fan, but from the perspective of a comic book movie fan.
At this moment, the DCEU has almost nothing to offer. If Man of Steel is considered the highpoint of the shared universe, it doesn't really mean anything, considering how the following two movies performed. What will Warner Bros. do now? Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice addressed the main issues of Man of Steel. Suicide Squad underwent reshoots after Batman v Superman was clobbered by the critics.
Will Wonder Woman follow the same path? Will Warner Bros. intervene again and risk ruining another movie? More importantly, what chances does the DCEU have now to compete, from all points of view, with the MCU?
I know - one shouldn't compare the two universes. But why not? Let's check out some of the reviews the critics have made, addressing (at times) the other big shared comic book movie universe.
Be warned - there are some spoilers here!
Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn
From all the Suicide Squad trailers, didn't you get the impression that Harley Quinn would be the best character in the entire movie? Well, it must be so. Especially since the rumor says that Warner Bros. is pushing for a Harley Quinn spin-off"¦
As Coming Soon notes (in one of the more positive reviews of Suicide Squad), there was a lot of pressure on the actress when taking on the role. After all, Harley is one of the most cosplayed comic book characters of all time. And, according to the website, she is a standout, a character who will please all types of audiences:
Robbie manages to capture the spirit of Quinn from the animated series, as well as the newer version from the comics, while still making the character work for movie audiences. It's a fine balancing act that Robbie manages to successfully navigate. The audience laughed or cheered at almost every line she delivered, and there are nods to the character's origins in the film.
On the other hand, IGN notes that the character "…is not the scene-stealer the trailers would have you believe," even if the actress looks and (at times) owns the part. According to the website, the biggest problem is that her “comedic energy and timing” aren't quite right, with her numerous one-liners falling flat.
Indiewire, on the other hand, has nothing good to say about the character, simply noting that she looks as if she wandered out of an XXX parody, with more of the film shots focused on her ass rather than on some other Squad members. Ouch!
Jared Leto's Joker
Jared Leto also had some big shoes to fill. And, according to most of the reviewers, his feet are too tiny - mostly because he appears in an extended cameo in Suicide Squad and not in a full role.
Thus, Indiewire notes that he looks like a Tony Montana played by Jim Carrey, "part gangster and part clown, but he's not really part of this movie". Rolling Stone goes even further, mocking his relationship with Harley as portrayed in the film: "Leto’s cackle really is chilling, but Ayer reduces his role to a glorified walk-on. And, hey, these crazy kids really do love each other. All together now: Awww."
On the other hand, some do believe that he owned the role. Coming Soon says:
[He] brings a lot new to the character and…while Nicholson was a deranged gangster and Ledger was an anarchist, Leto's Joker is more like a rock star crossed with a psychopathic serial killer. One minute, he's clowning around and joking. The next minute, he’s quietly staring at you like a predator stares at prey. It's an unsettling performance, and Suicide Squad breaks new ground with the character as we explore the romance between him and Harley Quinn.
Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress
Just like the rumors said, Enchantress and her mostly CGI brother are the villains of the film. However, unlike I hoped, the character is poorly written and her motivations aren't at all clear. Thus, The Verge notes that, "Enchantress is spectacularly eerie in the early going, before the film turns her into a silly-looking CGI effect." Which says something about the movie's special effects, as well.
And this isn't the fault of Cara Delevingne. According to IGN:
Enchantress herself is one misfire after another. A powerful, unpredictable character in the source material, she becomes a generic spell caster proclaiming loud mystic things in the movie. She's also one of few female characters to have a sensible costume in the comics, only for the filmmakers turn her into a bikini-wearing witch who must kiss men to put them under her thrall. Delevingne's talents are put to poor use as her character either acts the frail love interest as Moone or the bland sorceress as Enchantress.
It's such a shame this character has failed - and it has failed, according to 99 percent of the reviewers, who say that she was one of the biggest faults of Suicide Squad.
Will Smith's Deadshot
Apparently, all those who said that Will Smith's Deadshot will be a Will Smith type of character should now eat their words. According to IGN, the assassin is the most complete character in the entire squad. And that is even if he is a bit cheesy, with his entire story arc veered towards making him a good guy just because he loves his daughter.
Birth. Movies. Death. describes him as being the moral center of the story, with Will Smith selling even the hardest to sell scenes - particularly a scene in which Deadshot and Rick Flag come to respect each other.
Furthermore, the same website seems to have already found the best scene in the entire DCEU. The moment when Deadshot is apprehended by Batman is filled with energy, both Smith and Affleck receiving much praise for this.
Of course, having the same character introduced three times (in the beginning, when he is revealed to be an assassin, and when he is tested by Rick Flag) is a big no-no. However, this is in no way Will Smith's fault.
Viola Davis' Amanda Waller
Here, things are pretty clear - Amanda Waller is the best character in the entire flick. As EW notes, "Viola Davis classes up the proceedings as Amanda Waller." Which is understandable, given her credentials. Viola Davis, thus, becomes the baddest of them all, according to Birth. Movies. Death., even if she isn't an assassin, a psychopath, a drunk Aussie, a metahuman, or a cannibal.
Everybody seems to agree as far as Amanda Waller is concerned. This character is, maybe, the only one that should appear in further DCEU flicks (if the DCEU is going to continue and won't be rebooted).
However, Viola Davis needs to fight with the script before fighting the bad heroes and the eventual villains of the movie. And this, ultimately, is a fight she cannot win. Thus, even if she is perfect as Amanda Waller, one still must question her character's motives and logic. Especially since one of the bad guys she frees ends up being the ultimate threat of the movie.
Expendable DCEU Army No. 1
When it was clear that the Parademons would arrive in Justice League, I feared that they would become one of those faceless armies the heroes have to defeat in order to reach the bad guy. And I feared that Warner Bros. would start repeating the same mistake Marvel has made at least twice (the Chitauri and the Ultron bots). I guess I should have realized that Suicide Squad was going to feature the first disposable army of the DCEU.
As mentioned, Enchantress is the weakest character in the entire movie, together with her brother Incubus. And their army is made up of zombies - for lack of a better word. Which wouldn't be that bad - if it were an R-rated flick.
Thus, the confrontation between the squad and this army is, essentially, what one would expect from a PG-13 movie. And everybody agrees that some villains fighting some worse villains would use everything that they have in order to win.
However, despite all that, the action doesn't even match Batman's brutality in Batman v Superman. Rolling Stone notes:
A PG-13 crowd-pleaser that would rather ingratiate than cut deep, or even cut at all. My heart sank during the film’s big battle between the Squad and zombie soldiers. You heard me: zombies! The walking dead aren’t the only clichÃ©s that eat away at the potential in this material. Superfreaks become super sweeties and Suicide Squad: Dawn of Dullness (my subtitle) does the impossible. Forget Batman v Superman "” at least it tried. This botch job makes Fantastic Four look good.
David Ayer, Writer and Director
And here we are - we have arrived at what seems to be the root of the Suicide Squad disaster. David Ayer has written and directed some very powerful movies. However, as Rolling Stone notes, David Ayer sold his soul and went "…all limp-dick and compromised his hardcore action bona fides." And that is a shame, since David Ayer seemed to me the best thing about Suicide Squad.
So what went wrong here?
As Entertainment Weekly notes, the director, "skillfully sets up the film, introducing each of the crazies with caffeinated comic-book energy." And this is observed by almost all the reviewers. However, from this point on, Ayer seems to lose control, with the final confrontation being a bust. As Digital Spy notes:
David Ayer has introduced a set of (too many) potentially interesting characters, not given them time to breathe or the audience time to care, and thrown them into a scenario where they must fend off an irrelevant legion of pawns while trying to show off their “wacky” personalities.
Can we say that it wasn't his fault entirely? I can say that - maybe those damned reshoots actually ruined the film. And what I can further say is that Suicide Squad should have been an R-rated movie from the start. David Ayer would have been perfect in that case.
Coming Soon, who came up with one of the few positive reviews of the movies, says that Suicide Squad is, in a way, the Guardians of the Galaxy of the DCEU:
Suicide Squad also has one of the best soundtracks in a long time, following in the steps of Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of song choices. Each song helps tell the story of the character it is paired with and sets the tone. You Don't Own Me introduces Harley Quinn, Fortunate Son is played when we meet Killer Croc. It goes on and on from there. There are a few new songs, as well, including Heathens by twenty one pilots. There's a good chance you may want to pick up this album after seeing the movie.
On the other hand, The Telegraph says that such a comparison "makes you cringe so hard your teeth come loose".
Suicide Squad is also compared with Deadpool, one of the biggest comic book movie surprises of all time. Coming Soon says that Suicide Squad “is the Deadpool of the DC movie universe. It is wacky, funny, and action packed”.
On the other hand, The Hollywood Reporter says why such a comparison cannot actually work:
Part smart-ass genre sendup, part grimy noir that wants to be as dirty as Deadpool but remains constrained by its PG-13 rating, and part short-falling attempt by Warner Bros. to get a big-budget DC Comics mashup right, the film starts with promise but disengages as it loses its creative bearings.
It is fun, nonetheless
But things aren't so dark with the Suicide Squad. As a matter of fact, this is the reason why it is still called as small step forward for the DCEU - because it isn't as bleak as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In it, the characters have fun. They actually smile and they crack a joke, even if it doesn't land every time.
The movie is very comic booky, it cannot be said otherwise, even if sometimes this isn’t exactly a good thing (Telegraph calls it “puerile comic book pornography”).
As Den of Geek notes, “…logic waved bye-bye to Harley a long time ago. Kind of like this movie. But in both cases, it’s a damn captivating spectacle to behold.” Which is great - at least Suicide Squad is an enjoyable spectacle, in which the weight of an entire world doesn't fall on the viewer's shoulders.
However, Vanity Fair does say that the movie is forgettable. If Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is revolting and divisive, Suicide Squad won't go down in history at all. As far as I can understand, this is just another entertaining summer movie.
This isn't what the critics say, but what I believe. At this moment, out of three DCEU movies, Warner Bros. hasn't managed to meet all expectations with at least one. Of course, the hardcore fan base says otherwise - but these fans also say that all is good as long as the movies make enough money Really? Transformers are huge hits as well.
Unfortunately, Wonder Woman has a kick-ass first trailer - and I say unfortunately because all DCEU movies began this way. And I say unfortunately because Zack Snyder was the producer for all of them. So Warner Bros. needs to reassess this: Do they move forward with Snyder's vision, even if his role has diminished after Batman v Superman was released? Or does the DCEU need a soft reboot?
Ben Affleck's The Batman is the best opportunity for a soft reboot, even if I have no idea how that could happen. Affleck is an accomplished writer and director and, as long as he is not hurried, his movies are hits.
Another opportunity is in the Flash movie, which is set to arrive after the Justice League. A Flashpoint adaptation would erase this timeline, without the studio having to fire all the actors. Pretty much as it happened with Days of Future Past.
In any event, the DCEU cannot continue this way. Especially if Wonder Woman will undergo reshoots.
What do you think?