It’s no secret that the DC Extended Universe has had a rough go of it trying to compete with Marvel, at least as far as the big screen is concerned. 2013’s Man of Steel, led by glorified music video director Zack Snyder, had a decent box office performance, but found itself in the middle with critics, with many citing its overly serious tone and nonsensical CGI mayhem as key issues.
Only three years later, by which time Marvel had already completed Phase Two of its cinematic plans, the long-awaited Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was met with even worse critical reception. Apparently, Snyder had decided to double down on his approach to Man of Steel, and threw in an often-incoherent plot and frequently painful dialogue for good measure. If it was supposed to be Snyder’s own inside joke, no one else was clued in.
With many fans calling for Snyder’s head, it was clear DC needed to move forward. Not by getting rid of Synder, absolutely not; they decided the upcoming Suicide Squad needed to undergo reshoots. The cast and crew insisted it was to touch up action set pieces, though many could tell they needed to inject some humor in fear of similar backlash. Suicide Squad has recently met its fate, and though it may be a big earner, it’s the worst reviewed entry in the Extended Universe yet.
But, all of those highbrow critics who gave negative reviews have missed the point entirely with David Ayer’s film; it’s actually a work of meta genius. Rotten Tomatoes should be ashamed of doing their jobs by compiling all reviews, and every unhappy Squad fan’s complaints with the review aggregator have much validity. If you didn’t think it was possible for a movie like Suicide Squad to be intentionally horrendous, boy, were you incorrect.
The only way to begin reviewing such a self-aware disasterpiece is to look at its opening. The film opens with a maximum-security penitentiary housing a handful of ‘meta-humans,’ giving us glimpses of the big names. First, there’s Will Smith as Deadshot, looking like he’s still recovering from After Earth, and then Margot Robbie, whose American accent seems stuck in The Wolf of Wall Street, as Harley Quinn. Later, before the title card finally arrives, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) fills us in on the rest of the gang, who we will want to forget about because they aren’t Smith or Robbie, like Australian Tom Hardy wannabe Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang.
Almost immediately, the audience is made privy to a few characteristics that will help define the rest of the viewing experience. First of all, the editing is awe-inspiring in its sloppiness, evoking a slapdash approach suitable only for viewers with ADD or ADHD, and thus alienating its target audience. Working in conjunction with a narrative that begins and continues with little to no flow in the first place, the direction comes across as choppy, as many others have re-iterated, and therefore a lack of logical coherence permeates the screen. Not to mention an overdone soundtrack that turns the film’s opening half into a music video not even Zack Snyder could have concocted.
This opening sequence was crucial in establishing Ayer’s intentions, and in fact, helping DC establish their niche in the blockbuster marketplace. If Marvel is currently synonymous with anything, it’s consistency. From their stand-alone films to the bigger Avengers gatherings, their offerings range from decent enough to pretty amazing, with all of them satisfying a specific formula to keep fans, critics and general audiences satiated until the next one. If DC can even come close to Marvel’s level, they need their own consistency; in other words, they need a consistent string of bad films to stay afloat and push for the lead. And what better way to achieve these goals than picking up where Dawn of Justice left off, and even surpass its own narrative incoherence?
Another facet of DC’s newfound identity is an inability, or perhaps unwillingness to fulfill promises. For a movie titled Batman v. Superman, the titular superheroes sure fought very little; it took well over an hour and a half of the film’s painfully overlong script for any sort of physical altercation to take place, and it was the only time to two fought against each other. Suicide Squad’s big promise wasn’t the Squad, themselves, but rather Jared Leto as the iconic Joker. Much was made of what differences Leto would bring to the role, and in spite of the pomp and circumstances surrounding his Shakespeare-inspired sociopath, the Joker barely features at all.
With all due respect to Mr. Leto, it matters not if the filmmakers really had enough footage to give his Joker a feature-length film, because DC has greater, more significant goals in mind. Why rely on the Joker for some darkened humor, especially when it doesn’t sell well, when you can use Harley Quinn for the same reason, in addition to the rest of the crew, who we can only empathize with through either half-baked character backstory and development or absolutely none of either? Clearly, Leto is not a team player and needs to get his act together.
Speaking of humor, with most, if not all of the punchlines falling flat, the reshoots make their presence overwhelmingly felt, and the action scenes, thankfully, never looked to benefit. The humor forgoes any sort of organic conception, and instead feels forced enough to make the viewer care less about these characters the screenwriters appropriately put so little thought and stock in. Look, Snyder had already gone the serious route twice to start the Extended Universe, so Ayer’s next best option was repeatedly misguided attempts at comedy, and he checks that box like a real professional. The last thing we need is filmmakers repeating themselves and each other.
Face it, critics; DC played you all for fools, and understandably, you can’t stand being wrong. It takes a lot of vanity to succeed in journalism, but in this instance, perhaps you all should swallow your pride and accept that your wrong opinions will still give you the clicks you need to survive. It’ll all be okay, because now that Suicide Squad has landed, DC is on the path to glory, the future box office competition has just heated up and that alone is enough for a good story. Believe it or not, DC gave you all what you secretly wanted, but were too afraid to admit wanting.
Now go back inside, wait until Friday morning and write a better review that will agree with all of the Trump supporters throwing a hissy fit over the religious allegory in Sausage Party. Content means nothing when clicks are your god.