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Suicide Squad Harley Quinn Boom

It’s obvious that the DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU) has a public image issue when it comes to their films. With Batman V Superman failing to cross the $1 Billion dollar threshold, some experts have declared the DCCU dead on arrival. Despite these dark prognostications, there seems to be a groundswell of support around the upcoming Suicide Squad film, featuring a cadre of super-villains forced to work for the government in order to save millions of innocent lives. When the movie was first announced, a lot of fans were skeptical, but were willing to wait and see what the final result would look like.

Unfortunately Suicide Squad turned out to be a movie that had a lot of secrecy issues. Before we knew it, the internet was inundated with snapshots of actors, vehicles, and props that were supposedly “under wraps”. The voice of skepticism started to rise amongst fans as clear photos were leaked online. The initial reaction was that the tone seemed off. Joker was a tattooed hipster, Harley looked like she shopped at Hot Topic and the rest of the Squad looked like angry, emo types that invested in thousands of yards of black fabric. It just felt…wrong.

Suicide Squad Joker Tattoos

Then, something extraordinary happened. We were treated to the leaked footage from 2015’s San Diego Comic-Con. And despite some fan criticism with the teaser it was clear this movie had style, gorgeous cinematography, and most importantly: vision. While it seemed overly grim, as seen in the uber dark opening credits, there was something about it that seemed to soothe a lot of fears. Sure, there was still grumblings about the lack of Harley Quinn‘s famous Red and Black jump suit, but it was clear the movie was onto something. Between Amanda Waller’s speech about making people work against their own self interest and Deadshot’s realization that the team consisted of patsies you could tell that the movie was going to be something different and that is exactly what the DCCU needs. Something that truly sets it apart.

The irony is the DCCU’s answer is to double down on the “grim, dark and gritty”, which in the case of Batman V Superman backfired in a huge way. And it’s no wonder, the DC Universe is filled with some of the most iconic characters ever printed. They are literally the archetypes that gave birth to the entire superhero genre. These are heroes that are so well known, you can travel anywhere in the world and people recognize the diamond “S” of Superman, the black bat of Batman, and the double “W” of Wonder Woman. These are characters that walk in the sun (Batman notwithstanding), side by side with the every day citizens, striving to change the face of the world for the better. And yet somehow the solution seems to be to “darken it up” which, for a lot of fans, is missing the mark.

For years the fastest way to make a comic book story feel more “mature” was to slap a coat of “grim dark” gritty on the facade and carry on with business. This is evident with movies like Batman (1989), Daredevil (2003), X-Men (2000), and even Hulk (2003). The pallor of “grittiness” stained the patina of every adaption, but with the invention of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) something changed. Instead of relying on a dark, gritty tone, the solution was to modernize these stories while staying true to core concept of these characters. All of a sudden, heroes could be a bit corny, incorporate nostalgia, and even have a sense of humor. These weren’t considered bad things, so long as the story was engaging and that became the secret ingredient to making a successful adaption: story matters. It seems like a no brainer now, but it’s true, Hollywood had to learn this lesson.

Suicide Squad Amanda Waller

Which brings us back to the Suicide Squad. If there was ever an adaption that demanded a grim and gritty approach, this is it. Based on the comic of the same name, Suicide Squad has an deceptively simple premise: villains that have useful skills can buy their way out of prison by performing black bag ops for the government. For each successful mission, a significant chunk of time is taken off their sentence. The only catch is that these missions have a very low success rate so taking them on is practically suicide. Pretty rad, right?

So, one would think, it only makes sense that Suicide Squad film has a dark bent to it. Yet the movie seems to also have infused a serious amount of humor as seen in the first official trailer.

From the very first frame there’s a feeling that this isn’t going to be another slice of the “grim dark” experience presented in Batman V Superman. The amazing start of Queen‘s “Bohemian Rhapsody” signals that yeah, there’s going to be some dark themes explored, but we’re also going to have a good time. I mean, just look at the treatment of the WB logo, it went from a stark metal facade in the leaked trailer to a neon glinted piece of silver. You can literally see the studio reacting to the fans and try to put their best foot forward.

In fact, I’d argue that this is one of the best examples of a company actively listening to their audience. Sure there are some things they can’t change (such as Harley Quinn‘s costume) but you can see that they switched gears. There’s no sign of the moody darkness. Instead we’re treated to an infusion of neon colors, excellent music, and the sense that these are bad guys getting a chance to cut loose. And I believe that is the “something completely different” that DC has been looking for. It’s true we hold the heroes of Gotham and Metropolis up to a standard that nears deification, but that’s because they’re icons. They embody the standard that every other hero wishes they could be. As a result, we get pretty irked when that’s not fully represented in our media.

Suicide Squad Deadshot

At the same time though, while we the DC heroes up to an impossible standard we also have a weird standard for our villains: they enjoy being bad guys. Sure, there are some conflicted souls and some other characters that have deep and troublesome pasts, but a lot of the bad guys are perfectly fine to carry the banner of no good. This doesn’t mean they’re all psychos, far from it. Most of the villains in this universe are just people who are looking for the next pay day. If a few million dollars of property damage has to occur in order to get that pay day, no problem and that’s the beauty of it.  With the creation of the Suicide Squad we get to have our cake and eat it too. The villains can be pretty deplorable, yet we can root for them because they’re just trying to get out of hock.


“The Faces of Joker” by LogicalCommonSense – www.funnyjunk.com

But then there’s the Joker. Jared Leto may be the most controversial casting of the Clown Prince of Crime since John DiMaggio was cast to replace Mark Hamill in the animated universe. On one hand, it’s clear this is not the goofball trickster of the 60s, 70s or 80s. Nor is he the chaos worshiping sociopath of the Dark Knight series. On the other hand it’s clear that Jared Leto is tapping into something that’s always been apart of Joker: his ability to freak us the eff out. The Joker is scary. He’s a psychopath and, by far, one of the most terrifying villains in all of comics. I’m sure you’ve seen the meme of the Five Faces of Joker that’s been running around the net for the last few months and it struck me that every depiction I’ve seen, including Leto’s upcoming performance, has added something to the mad jester.

Suicide Squad Joker Omega

Amazingly enough, the few scene’s from the trailer we’ve been privy to has turned a lot of fans around. Instead of focusing on the tattoos and metal grill, the conversation transformed. All of a sudden, people wanted to know more about this new Joker and what it meant for the DCCU. Was he the original Clown Prince? Is he the second man to pick up the mantle? Is he even the real Joker? We don’t know. But it’s a welcome change of pace from the insta-hate we saw a year ago when they first revealed his look.

And if that wasn’t enough to make you giddy for the upcoming film, we’re treated to a trailer that has met near universal praise; the aptly named “Blitz”.

Adopting yet another song from the Wayne’s World soundtrack (of all things), “Blitz” highlights everything that’s come before. It’s bigger, it’s brighter, its epic and it seems like it’s going to be fun. Let’s look at that WB logo one more time. The silver logo with neon highlights is now resting on a backdrop of bright green and fuchsia clouds.

Suicide Squad WB Logo Change

Even when the darker premise is laid out in the first 30 seconds, you get a feeling that things are about to get really interesting. There’s even a solid sense of the team dynamic as some pretty iconic bad guys meet the dregs of the super powered underworld. All the while it becomes clear that Joker is not the happy go lucky leader of the crew, but the insane madman the Squad is trying to stop. Even so, the trailer continues to remind you that the squad is “the bad guys”. Will Smith even utters the line halfway through to make sure you remember, these aren’t heroes. Far from it. And it seems to have won over the majority of fans.

The change is amazing when you think about it. A few years ago, this movie was put on the production slate and people were scratching their heads. Just like with Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie Suicide Squad gets compared to frequently, it features a cast of virtual nobody’s centered on a concept that is relatively obscure outside of the comics.

Suicide Squad Group

Even so, as Batman V Superman came closer to the theaters, a lot of people were writing off the flick. It was a failed experiment before ever touching down. At the same time fan opinion was turning on the dynamic duo of Bats and Supes, they were embracing the Suicide Squad. Even in the aftermath of the under-performing Batman V Superman you’d think that Warner Bros. would want to pull back on their support of the upcoming Squad.

Far from it. In fact, the studio had a recent announcement that Margot Robbie has begun developing a Harley Quinn movie featuring some of the most iconic female heroes and villains in the DCCU’s roster. I’d think it’s safe to say that Warner Bros. is confident that Suicide Squad will be a hit. With the recent appointment of Geoff Johns and Jon Berg as Co-Chairmen of DC Films, it’s clear that they’re serious about creating a shared universe that would make fans proud. All thanks to a little known movie and a studio that was willing to adjust to audience reactions. Will it ensure a hit? Who knows, but if it performs half as well as I think, we’re in for a massive blockbuster.

Suicide Squad Harley Quinn With Hammer

So what do you think? Do you think that Warner Bros. is learning the right lessons? Did they turn you around on Suicide Squad? Are you excited about the upcoming Harley Quinn team-up movie? Let us know in the comments below or shoot us a tweet!

Suicide Squad arrives in theaters August 5th.

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Shaun Rosado

Shaun Rosado is creator and host of a weekly geek podcast called "Shauncastic!," where he and a rotating cast discuss everything geeky, nerdy and pop culture-y as well as the creator of "Meet At The Tavern," a blog dedicated to RPGs. He is also a frequent Twittering fool (@Pneumaz). He is married, has a dog, is a massive fan of The Flash and owns a spaceship. One of these is not true.