how "suicide squad" could have been better.
Spoilers (obviously) for Suicide Squad
Also, I don't read DC Comics, including Suicide Squad. This isn't a blog post about making a more accurate Suicide Squad, it's about making a better movie.
It's 2016, and the world is ripe for superhero movies. Marvel Studios and Disney set the standard for fun, mass-appealing movies that you can enjoy equally with your parents and with your kids. Christopher Nolan set the standard for gritty, realistic depictions of people in costumes beating the crap out of people. Since then, movie studios have tried unsuccessfully replicate those kinds of movies, failing miserably. Recently, a movie came out that captured the gritty-realism of the Dark Knight series, with the camp and pop culture of Guardians of the Galaxy, and the character cameos akin to Wolverine in the X-Men series. And that movie was Star Trek: Beyond. It was supposed to be Suicide Squad, but that didn't quite fit the bill. But it totally could have, and that's the point I'd like to make tonight. Apparently the script for Suicide Squad was written in 6 weeks, let's see if we can fix it in less than 6 hours. Here's a step by step list of how to fix Suicide Squad.
Step One: Take out the backstories
Yes, I know this movie is introducing all of these characters to this audience for the first time. But this movie is neither the time nor the place for that. We just got introduced to the universe in the last movie (BvS), and we need to take it slow. Unlike Marvel, the DC television universe is completely separate from the movie universe, so no matter how much we eat up whatever DC spits out, we're still not used to this movie's setting. Suicide Squad tried to squeeze in the backstories of half a dozen characters we've never heard of before. And then the movie jumps back and forth, presenting pieces of backstory whenever we need reminding that we're supposed to care about these characters. It makes the movie a complete, incoherent mess.
Put the backstories somewhere else. Like, not in the movie. We get that these characters have stories, something led up to where they are today. As viewers, we can make that assumption from the character's words and actions. During their battle with the Enchantress, we get a glimpse into each of the character's lives: Deadshot has a daughter whom he cares about deeply, El Diablo wants his family back, Harley Quinn presumably wants to live in the 1950's. That's all we need to see of the character's backstory and motivation. We don't need reminders every twenty minutes that El Diablo killed his wife and kids. His fear of losing control is built into his character and we don't need multiple flashbacks to what caused it. If you take out the flashbacks and backstory, you'll leave the people who actually care about the characters to flesh them out at their own pace, and you'll give the viewers who don't care more of what they want; it's a win-win. If you really want to build out these characters, put some time aside and give them a show or a solo movie or even a thirty second TV spot.
Step two: Get rid of the Enchantress
Having the Enchantress in this movie made the mistake of introducing magic into the DC Universe. So far, they've only had Batman (human) and Superman (not human). Along with all the characters, we're introduced to this whole new concept of meta-humans, which apparently no one in the Suicide Squad is. But then they went ahead and introduced ancient, reawakened, tribal magic a la X-Men: Apocalypse, and this throws the whole universe out of whack. Aside from that, the Enchantress simply wasn't a compelling villain: an uncontrollable force takes over a person we don't care about, she wants to destroy all humans just because, she creates an army of faceless drones, and that's pretty much it. (Side note: why is it that the random dude from the bathroom gets his powers, he turns into a glowing goliath with stone armour and tentacle arms, and when Enchantress gets her powers, she turns into a naked belly-dancer? In a world where the best character in a film called Batman versus Superman is a woman, I thought we were past this kind of petty objectification.) I get that she needed Rick Flag to be motivated, but that's not necessary either. Also, she's been living in June for years, and only decides to become evil as soon as they have a way of stopping her. Nothing about her character makes any sense.
Make Batman the bad guy. Within the movie, Deadshot and Harley already have it out for the Bat, the Joker should have a vendetta against Batman (it was in BvS, but not so much in this movie). What I liked about BvS is that the actions of Man of Steel, caused the conflict of that movie. Suicide Squad could've done the same thing where, once Batman shows up in Metropolis, and suddenly there's a giant monster that Superman dies defeating. Someone watching from a distance can easily make the assumption that Batman brought the hell-beast to kill Supes and now, boom, he's the bad guy. Then the government can go to all the people Batman rounded up in his heyday, and say: "hey, it's time to kill the Batman," give them all neck-snappy chips, and send them on their merry way. That way, once Joker shows up to get Harley back, he'll have a reason to stay and join the fight, instead of fake-dying. This would also help the mid-credits scene, where Batman says: "get your people under control, or me and my friends will" because now he has stakes in the game.
Step three: pick a tone
One of the reasons the DC Movie Universe is different from the CW shows is because Zach Snyder said the TV show Flash wasn't dark enough for the movies. But, the Justice League trailer shows just how brooding this new Flash is (hint: he's not). Anyway, that was supposed to be the split: movies are dark, shows are light; and then Suicide Squad had to go and ruin it. Suicide Squad tried to be dark and depressing and it tried to be funny, and it ended up being none of those. The movie was billed as a funny movie, with literally all the movie's jokes in the trailers. After they test screened it, they had to go back in and make it funnier. It's obvious, they were trying to make it dark and gritty, after the "success" of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, and only decided to make it funny as an afterthought.
Make it funny from the start. This goes along with the taking out the backstories, we don't need to feel for these characters quite yet. When the Fresh Prince and the Clown Princess are running the show, it should be a fun romp through the city, knocking off heads and cracking wise. All the jokes in this movie felt wildly out of place because they whole damn thing took place at night and everyone was dealing with various levels of loss. Instead, make it fun, make it funny, and let Harley use her hammer. This movie was meant to show how different the world of heroes are from the world of villains: if the heroes are going to be mopey, let the villains have a laugh.
Step four: take out the Joker.
I know, I know. Seeing this Joker was probably the reason most people saw this movie in the first place (excluding the people who saw it for the gratuitous butt). But, simply put: this Joker was bad. Jared Leto's Joker was like a pimp who watched The Dark Knight every night before bed and had pictures of Heath Ledger taped to his walls. So far, every Joker we've seen on screen has been a new take on the same concept (heck, even Mark Hamill's Jokers were different from cartoon to video game), and each one was uniquely terrifying, except this one. He seemed like he was trying to be an agent of chaos, and not just being an actual loose cannon. And his laugh sounded worst of all, it was like a nervous tick, not an actual laugh; he sounded like Mickey Mouse from South Park.
Take him out of the movie completely. There's no need to see him in this movie: here we are being introduced to brand new people in a brand new world, there's no need to throw in an old fan favourite (I'm looking at you, X-Men: Apocalypse). Yes, his actions help along Harley's plotline. But, if we cut out her flashbacks, all we need to see of him are the results of his actions. Leave his masked culprit's shooting up Wayne Labs, leave his helicopter raining bullets onto the Squad, leave his texts to Harley throughout, that's all fine. But we don't need to see his face, we don't need him to say anything. By having the Joker appear in this underwhelming fashion, we ruined a potentially larger buildup and more impactful reveal.
There's a lot of nitpicking I can do on this movie, but these are just four major changes that would fix most of the problems. I didn't even bring up the fact that Slipknot got no backstory and no promotion, so of course he was going to die. Or that Katana was absolutely useless throughout. Or that Killer Croc was so underdeveloped that he was just a stereotype wrapped in scales. If you have any other ideas, you can comment below.