Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn't on the smoothest course through its cinematic release; while the film's certainly a hit amongst a section of hardcore DC fans, both critics and large swathes of the public have walked away disappointed by Zack Snyder's overloaded, bewildering, and obsessively foreshadowing blockbuster. Have we already marked the end of the line for DC's rebooted universe?
Not if the bad guys have any say, for it's DC's alternate offering of the year that has the hearts' of audiences all aflutter. We've still got the summer months to while away before its August release, but with that deliciously atmospheric teaser, followed by all the exhilaration of a sublimely-edited, Bohemian Rhapsody-soundtracked trailer?
Anticipation has officially reached peak delirium. Swiping the hype right from under Batman and Superman's feet even before Dawn of Justice received its disappointing release, Suicide Squad's depraved, chaotic offerings has all the rights goods in place to steal the show and get away scot-free.
1. It's a risk, and risks do actually pay off
It's been a long, hard-learned lesson; but DC and Marvel are ever so gradually realising that creative diversity does actually pay off in cinema. Sure, familiarity has its comforts and securities, but everyone's sort of sick and tired of seeing Spider-Man's Uncle Ben die at this point; partially explaining why The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out two years ago and, already, everyone has forgotten it ever existed.
Conversely, the two biggest risks of the genre's recent days have paid off handsomely. The seemingly unpitchable space opera featuring a gun-wielding raccoon and his tree best buddy, Guardians of the Galaxy, is currently Marvel's fourth highest-grossing entry; while Deadpool's fourth-wall breaking, ultra-violent mania broke the record as the all-time highest-grossing R-rated film. Both were gargantuan hits amongst fans, too; with the two films each looking forward to a sequel in the pipeline.
Suicide Squad marks entirely new ground for the superhero genre; turning the perspective away from the world of heroes to its most twisted, lawless villains. Stripped of moral codes, yet lassoed together under a loose confederacy of nihilism, DC's new team works almost as a perfect combination of Deadpool's anarchy and Guardians' outsider factor, while still coming off as something entirely fresh.
2. DC's cinematic universe is in desperate need of new voices
Beloved or despised; either way, Zack Snyder's got total monopoly over DC's main cinematic thread. Having helmed both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, he now moves onwards to both Justice League: Part One and Part Two. Warner Bros. are clearly prioritising thematic consistency here; yet, the arguably key ingredient to Disney/Marvel's longevity is its willingness to diverge thematically from its standard threads.
Kenneth Branagh's Shakespearean instinct brought grandeur to Thor, whilst Captain America: Winter Soldier turned to the Cold War espionage genre at the hands of the Russo brothers; the hire of comedy director Taika Waititi for Thor: Ragnarok proves Disney are sticking to their guns here.
With good reason. Zack Snyder will invariably only ever be Zack Snyder, and there's a dreary thread to the idea that it's his, and only his, distinctively bombastic style we'll be seeing for the Justice League movies. Suicide Squad is the first to bring in a new voice into the DC universe, and it's a strong one at that; with director David Ayer having previously brought enviable grit to the likes of Fury and End of Watch.
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3. It (hopefully) won't be too obsessed with setting up other movies
We're too deep into the trend now to hope Suicide Squad will magically be free of the dreaded curse of the cinematic universe, with foreshadowing now a seeming priority within the genre. Yet, its position as the relative rogue outlier of the DC slate will optimistically spell for a narrative that won't be as infuriatingly, hilariously obsessed with setting up future movies as Batman v Superman was; a film which literally featured characters coming across promotional stills and teaser trailers for upcoming offerings.
4. With Harley Quinn and The Joker, someone's bound to walk away with a killer performance
To the mutual credit of Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, Batman v Superman's rather limited time spent establishing their characters did offer them some fair scope in terms of performance; if there's anything to take away from the film, it's that both their solo offerings already have strong potential within their leads.
How much, really, is there to chew on with a brooding, billionaire orphan versus the criminally insane, though? Suicide Squad's sold on characters versus storyline; it's no mere accident Jared Leto's outlandish antics in preparation as The Joker has formed such a main thread of the publicity. With such an iconically deranged role, Leto's playground is limitless in its potential; even if it's not groundbreaking, it certainly looks as if this Joker will be a whole lot of fun.
What makes Suicide Squad so intriguing, however, is that The Joker isn't automatically the centre of attention here; Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn looks deliriously, psychotically cool with a fan-favourite character possessing just as much potential for scene-stealing glory. Heck, even Jai Courtney's 30 seconds of work in the trailers as the brawling Captain Boomerang is already, by a significant margin, the best he's ever done.
5. It's entertainment vs. grandeur, which means the stakes are far lower
There's the temptation here to argue that Suicide Squad's the superior sort merely for offering some level of fun; as opposed to Batman v Superman's tone being as entirely dry as a Himalayan mountain range's worth of crackers. Except, that does disservice to exactly what Snyder's film set out to do, which lies in the entirely admirable creation of spectacle.
Not every superhero movie can be, or should be, as giddy as Deadpool; to deride spectacle ignores the superhero's role in cinema as a kind of modern-day folkloric hero. We need the sweeping grandeur of Batman or Superman, the amplification of our hopes and anxieties to legendary extremes; it brings the world this weight and security, it rids our hearts of hopelessness.
The problem with Batman v Superman, however, is that grandeur brings vulnerability; its required self-importance amplifies every silly, illogical flaw to a point of glaring visibility. Which becomes even more of a problem when, like Batman v Superman, some of the biggest flaws are actually meant to be the emotional crux of the film. In short, Suicide Squad's willfully frivolous tone means it'll be capable of getting away with a whole lot more than its sober compatriot, and that can only be a good thing.
Suicide Squad hits UK cinemas 5 August.
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