As I write this (Friday), the Suicide Squad movie has grossed $318, 779,276 domestically and $413,000,000 internationally for a total worldwide gross of $731,779,276. It’s been playing since the start of August and, in the U.S., it’s still on the top ten list.
It has now out-grossed the first Iron Man film. It has also out-grossed Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, Thor, Ant-Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Incredible Hulk. It has also out-grossed all of the X-Men films, the Wolverine films, and The Amazing Spider-Man films.
And Suicide Squad did not access to the #2 market in the world, China. (Why won’t the Chinese let it in? Beats me.)
It means that not only a lot of people have seen the movie, but many have seen it more than once. (I’ve seen it three times so far but you’d probably guessed that I would.) I know it’s still in at least one movie theater in my remote vicinity.
This is for a film that rates a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I still don’t understand. Did these disapproving critics and fans see the same film I saw? That all these other people saw? Yes, I know it’s not the Citizen Kane of superhero flicks; I know it’s flawed and I could recite some of those flaws. But, as I said before, I’d give it a good solid B. It’s a fun summer popcorn entertainment and it’s just different enough from other superhero films to deserve the attention it gets.
I saw at last one online poster sniff that, yes, it has had a lot of customers but, then, so does McDonalds. I’d hasten to point out that there are food critics who have praised McDonalds french fries. The fact that something is popular does not mean it isn’t good. (Ook. Two negatives in one sentence. Ah well.)
There are things that are different in the Squad film – I heard one millennial cite the coloring, the use of music, the pacing, and the central idea of bad guys being made to do “good” (“good” being a relative term). It is something different.
It’s something that the younger generation seems to be hooking into. The ad calls them the Worst. Heroes. Ever. – and they are. You wind up rooting for them anyway. As twisted as it is, the central romance in the film is Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. The film is a different take on the superhero genre.
Look, I’m not going to try and tell people that their opinion of the film is wrong. They react according to who they are and how the film strikes them. I might suggest, however, that they might want to give it another chance. Sure, I’m biased and, yes, I have a (tiny) vested interest in the Squad’s success but I think the movie might be better than some people give it credit for.
So get a ticket, grab some popcorn, and meet me at the Cineplex while the Suicide Squad is still playing. I’m ready to go see it again.
Hello all. As I’m sure nearly everyone else here on ComicMix has given their two cents on the recent release of SuicideSquad (with the most important among us, John Ostrander, being the end-all-be-all in his review), I’d be remiss if I didn’t also drop a few opinionated pennies in the bucket.
My opinion of the flick, sadly, isn’t a high one. Had John – someone I admire so much as a writer, and cherish as a (dare I say it) personal friend – not been one of the sources by which David Ayer and his team built the Squad around? I’d really be inclined to say I left the theater unsurprisingly disgruntled. But I left at least with a snicker and some joy for the good things buried in the layers of bad.
Walking in, admittedly, my expectations were low. Given the bar to clear thanks to Batman v. Superman, all I really wanted was a film that could at least take a step back now and again to have a laugh and/or human moment. I didn’t need to see Deadshot and his dirty dozen eat gyros in Central City mind you, but I needed to be reminded now and again that the DC Movie Universe wasn’t all angsty rainstorms and mommy issues.
Walking out, I felt I’d been treated to – as my friend and comic shop owner Eric Garneau quipped — a two hour music video. Stuff exploded. One liners were dropped. A little depth and human emotion permeated a few of the Wall’s wicked wrongdoers. And I didn’t leave exhausted by most of the ham-fistedness of it all.
If I’m allowed to file some complaints… (And, duh, SPOILERS be ahead, matey)
Jared Leto may had thought going method was the way to really capture the Joker. But the inked and lovelorn desperate putz they paraded out during the film was hardly the clown prince of crime I personally love to loathe. As presented, he was a chalk white gangster without a soul. If it’s one thing every Joker before him has shown (and much of that comes with the script) is a depth beyond the forced smile and purple pants. In Suicide Squad, he served only one purpose: to grant us our Harley Quinn, the sexpot screwloose heart-of-the-team.
A secondary concern would pop up when it came to the obvious screen time of Will Smith’s Deadshot as well as the aforementioned Dr. Quinzelle. Clearly the studio loved how marketable each would be; Deadshot is basically a living action figure, and Harley is Hot Topic made flesh. But with each of them getting considerably longer stretches to dominate the film, the more interesting members of the team were left to fill fodder roles.
Had we not seen Captain Boomerang stuff the pink unicorn into his jacket several dozen times, would there even be much to the character as given to us? He was funny as he continually opted to try to half escape or drink beer, sure… But there’s far more to Digger than the movie opted to offer.
And what of Killer Croc or El Diablo? To me, Diablo stole the film, with his well-paced slow burn (natch) arc. It left me wanting to know far more about him. While Croc apparently was happy to be the muscle of the team who was always relegated to wide shots due to the budget clearly being spent on Enchantresses’ CGI maelstrom.
Which leads me to the last nit to pick. From the second she was introduced, Enchantress was truly used as nothing more than a deus ex machinsquad. Overpowered, over CGI’ed, and under-acted, I never believed for a second that the June Moon inside wanted our Not-Tom-Hardy Rick Flag. But the point is moot. She was there to give us a squad and produce yet-another-army of expendable computer monsters to bash. Meh.
For what it’s worth, I feel the need to end on an uplifting note. Much as John himself pointed out, so much of the success of this film would rest on Amanda Waller. As the Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury of the DCU (who predates that actual character by several decades… thank you, John), Viola Davis was everything I wanted in the Wall and more. In fact, I hope we catch her rooting around every DC movie from here to the eventual Kingdom Come.
Ultimately, if someone were to ask me about Task Force X I’d pop in my DVD of Justice League Unlimited and show them how it was done as a masterstroke. Otherwise, I suggest switching your brain to mute, getting a large greasy bucket of popcorn, and just enjoy the madness. Suicide Squad is, to date, the best DC’s movie makers have yet to offer. Enough glints of hope exist for the casual fans to have a good time.
And hey, should the Squad return? Well, if it drops a few shekels of credit to John Ostrander… my next ticket will be bought in advance.
I usually try to avoid reading reviews of movies before I go see them but the explosion of negativity that came out as soon as the embargo dropped last week made it utterly impossible to see Suicide Squad completely untainted. Combined with some scheduling snafus that kept me from seeing the film until Monday morning I walked into the theater with a strong preconception that this was going to be a bad movie. And it was— Suicide Squad is a bad movie, but it isn’t the end of western cinema, it isn’t the worst superhero movie ever made, it isn’t even the worst superhero movie released this year from Warner Bros that Ben Affleck is in. At some points it’s even endearingly bad, the kind of movie that could end up with a cult following. I doubt it will because of all the times it’s just a bland kind of bad and the crushing weight of the perpetual DC cinematic failures, but there are traces of a spark here.
Suicide Squad is an aggressively bland movie. Everything but Harley Quinn seems to be colored in various shades of grey or, at best, muted colors. The sets are drab and the exteriors are very obviously studio back lots pumped in with a smoke machine. Even the most common bad guys are an endless supply of vaguely human cannon fodder made out of black goo. There’s no personality to the environments, the objectives, or most of the characters. I just can’t care about this team of warriors killing wave after wave of generic nothing henchmen to foil an evil plot that looks menacing, but has no established stakes until the movie is 90% over. I get that the government has a vested interest in not having mysterious interdimensional entities establishing swirling vortexes above major cities, but if you don’t tell me what it does it becomes entirely generic.
Even if Suicide Squad were, somehow, a more interesting movie it wouldn’t save it because it’s a stunningly misogynist and racist movie. I might be at odds with some others in the comics community by saying this but I never thought Harley Quinn started as a particularly progressive character. She got there when they teamed her with Poison Ivy and there have been more and less good depictions of her over the years but this is definitely a bottom-of-the-barrel portrayal. Harley is a living breathing failure of the Bechdel Test because literally every action she takes is about a man, usually The Joker but sometimes Deadshot. It’s challenging to give this critique because Margot Robbie does such a good job taking the poorly-written character she’s given and wringing every bit of character she can out of it. There’s a moment where she turns to bow when she exits a scene that I swear is frame-for-frame perfect with an appearance on Batman: The Animated Series and that’s quite a commitment to the character.
If we want to hit sexism and racism in one character it would be in El Diablo. I’m not familiar with this version of the character at all, he must be from after my time as a regular comic book reader, but I sincerely hope that he has origins more distinct than this Mexican gangster caricature. It’s like David Ayer learned five things about Mexican gangs when he was writing Training Day and decided that he would put those things in every movie he wrote from then on. The movie also very much wants us to believe that El Diablo is the real victim of the time he got mad and incinerated his entire family in a scene that was several notches over my comfort zone in terms of similarity to real-world domestic violence. I understand that they’re trying for a metaphor here, but there’s basically no way the family man character they expect me to believe Deadpool is would be cool with what El Diablo did. Oh, and when El Diablo gets to his most powerful level, he inexplicably turns in to a giant flaming Aztec caricature, it’s very strange juxtaposed with his seemingly Catholic world view up until then. It’s as if they decided if they treated Will Smith and Viola Davis well, they could just do the rest of their minority characters as rough ethnic sketches.
I suppose I can’t get out of this without talking about Jared Leto’s performance as The Joker because of how it dominated the hype campaign for this movie despite being a vanishingly small part, all things considered. Leto does not do good work. He seems to be doing an impression of Heath Ledger’s performance from The Dark Knight but with all of the subtlety replaced by the kind of grunting you would get if you asked a 12 year-old what sex sounded like. He’s easily the worst live action depiction of the character, but you can tell that every time they called “cut” he was convinced that he nailed it. There are good acting performances in this movie, I’ve already shouted out Robbie, and think Viola Davis deserves kudos for taking a part that in another era would have faded in to the background and created one of the scariest characters in a movie that includes a crocodile monster. Will Smith is also doing good work, although we’re clearly getting “action movie” Will Smith and not “actually trying his hardest” Will Smith, but it doesn’t matter. Smith is a sublime talent as a movie star because he makes action nonsense seem serious and he nails the quiet moments as well as the funny ones.
At this point I don’t know what needs to change at DC Entertainment before they start putting out movies that aren’t dreary disasters. I suppose they would have to stop making quite so much money, but they hold their opening weekend numbers very badly and the critical derision has got to hurt especially when Marvel puts out bigger numbers and gets better reviews. I’ve heard over and over that there are shakeups internally and that things are going to get better, but it never does. The Comic Con footage of Justice League looked good but after seeing this and Batman v Superman how am I supposed to believe that the people who signed off on those movies even have any idea what a good movie looks like? It’s time for a change, but does anyone who could make that change care as long as the money comes in?
Warning! Danger! Spoilers! I saw the movie, I’m going to talk about the movie, there may be some plot spillage. Yadda yadda yadda.
As we start, I think you should know my biases. I think you should know any critics’ bias. Myself, I use them mostly as consumer reporters. If I find a critic whose tastes largely coincide with mine, I tend to trust them more. The late great Roger Ebert was one. Knowing who is giving you their opinion is important; what does their opinion matter if you don’t trust them?
Regarding the Suicide Squad movie, well, I’m biased. I’m prejudiced. I have a vested interest in its success. I want it to succeed. However, if I didn’t like it, I’d be more likely just to keep my trap shut.
My trap is open.
I really liked the film. Not perfect by a long shot, but a really good time in the movie theater. And for me a lot of it was just amazing. The look, the detail, the feel of the film is not something I’ve seen in superhero movies before.
Chief for me were the performances, starting with Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. All the other characters in the Squad, both the comic and the movie, were created by others. In the comic especially I would re-define and expand on them but they were established characters. Amanda Waller was my creation and Viola Davis embodied her to perfection. I was happy when she was cast, I was delighted when I saw her in the trailers, and I was ecstatic when I saw her in the film. Davis has Amanda’s voice, her look, and her attitude. I was delighted at the after-party when I got a chance to see her face-to-face and tell her how much I enjoyed her performance.
Next up is Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She is sexy, innocent, funny, lethal, crazy and dangerous. And she’s a thief – she steals just about every scene she’s in.
Let’s look at Will Smith as Deadshot. Some folks have objected that he’s not my Deadshot. No, he isn’t and that’s just fine by me. My Deadshot was not the character as he had been created or portrayed prior to my appropriating him for the Squad. Gail Simone’s version was not exactly my version either. You don’t expect two actors who play the same character in different versions to be identical so why expect those versions in different stories to be identical? Smith did a great job – intense, cynical, with a weak spot for his daughter (although I thought their last scene together had a disturbing element). Smith is a fine actor and one of the world’s biggest stars; he sure as hell wasn’t slumming here and he made Deadshot his own – which is exactly what he was supposed to do.
Last paragraph, I talked about you wouldn’t expect two actors playing the same character in different stories to give identical performances. That really applies to Jared Leto as the Joker. He crafted an entirely new version of the character from the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal in The Dark Knight. That’s absolutely necessary and it’s a different look. Like Pygmalion, he creates a woman that he can love; in this case, it’s Harley Quinn. If we accept his love for her (and her love for him) as genuine, does that make him less of a sociopath? Ledger’s Joker loved no one except, perhaps, Batman. He’s no less strange or deadly but his entire plotline revolves around being re-united with Harley.
Jay Hernandez has a significant role as Diablo and I would have liked to see more of the character. He has a terrific and horrifying back-story but this is a character who is trying to do good even as (I think) he believes he is beyond redemption.
Likewise, I would have liked to see more of Jai Courtney as Boomerang. As Christopher Walken says of cowbell, you can never have too much Boomerang. He’s very much as I wrote him in the Squad – he knows what he is and he likes it. In that respect, Boomerang is very well adjusted. Which is scary.
There’s a surprising theme running through the movie; there is a lot about love. Joker and Harley’s love, yes; Deadshot’s love for his daughter; Diablo’s love (and guilt and remorse) for his family; Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman)’s love for June Moone (Cara Delevingne) while June’s alter ego, the Enchantress, appears to love her brother. Katana (Karen Fukuhara) loves her dead husband and carries his soul in her blade (OK, a lot of the relationships are not the healthiest in this film). Even with Amanda there’s a brief phone call and there’s tenderness and love for whoever she’s speaking with. Love shapes and forms a lot of the characters and they, in turn, mold the story.
Are their problems with the film? Sure. The antagonist(s) are not well defined and, to my mind, you need a good antagonist to help define the protagonist(s). It’s the antagonist who usually sets the plot in motion and it is defined by what they want. The story is a little more generic “we have to save the world” than I usually did; I always liked having one foot squarely in reality.
I also liked having a political and/or social edge in my Squad stories. That would also give a greater feel of reality and I don’t see that here.
That said, my artistic DNA is all over the place. This is The Dirty Dozen with supervillains and that’s my concept. They did that and did it well.
I know some of the critics, both in print and online, do not like the movie. That’s okay; everyone has a right to their own opinion even when it’s wrong. My problem is that, at least with some of the media reviews, is that the critic is also tired of superhero and “tentpole” films and, overtly or covertly, would like to see their end. Look, I get it – they have to see all the films out there and they must be tired of all the blockbusters.
If every superhero film is not The Dark Knight, they’ll bitch. I think that’s going on here to a certain degree. Just as I came prepared to love the movie, they came prepared to hate it.
My late wife, Kim Yale, was a movie critic for a while for a small suburban newspaper in the Chicago area and I went with her to some of the movie screenings. Don’t tell me that some of the critics didn’t come with pre-conceived attitudes to some films. I know better. I saw and heard it.
As for some of the online haters – if a film doesn’t fit their pre-conceived notion, it is wrong. Female Ghostbusters, a black Deadshot, Ben Affleck as Batman (Affleck, by the way, does cameos as both Batman and Bruce Wayne in Suicide Squad and is terrific) – these are all sins and must be decried.
Give me a fucking break.
Look, you can be the most important critic on Suicide Squad. In this case, your voice is your money. You decide if you want to see the movie and then go. If you like it, tell others. I guess you could also tell them if you didn’t like it but you don’t have to. I won’t mind.
If the film is financially successful (and, from what I’ve seen as this review is being written, it’s on track for a pretty good opening weekend), then Warners will be encouraged to do a sequel. And I hope they do. They made a good film this time and I believe they’ll do it even better next time around.
On August 1, the Suicide Squad movie premieres in NYC and I’ll be there. I’ve watched the trailers and the hype and, I must say, I’m hyped up. From everything I can see, David Ayer (the writer/director) and the cast have read my work on the Squad comic and are using it. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller especially seems pulled from what I did and for me personally that’s very exciting.
I don’t expect the film to be a direct translation of the comic; this is a different medium and has different needs. I love my fans a lot but there’s not enough of them to fill a single theater for a week. The movie has to appeal to those who never heard of the comic. However, in its DNA, this is the Squad I created. At its core is the concept of The Dirty Dozen with supervillains. That was my concept. Amanda Waller was my creation. So – yeah, that’s my Squad up there.
The Squad as a comic and I suspect as a film will also reflect, to a certain degree, some of my sensibilities. The main one will be the moral tones of gray. For a long time, despite being in four colors, comics were very black and white. There were Heroes (white) and Bad Guys (black) and the Good Guys beat up the Bad Guys. Comics were very primal in their Good Vs. Evil.
I don’t see things like that and I don’t write that, especially with the Squad. With the Squad, the bad guys are forced to “do good,” with that “good” defined by Amanda Waller who herself is morally very gray. Even the “heroes” who went along to keep the Squad in line were themselves compromised morally, often just by being associated with the Squad. They had their own problems. No one was 100% good – or 100% bad either.
That’s how I see people so that is how I must write them if I am to write honestly. Shakespeare has Hamlet say
I am myself indifferent honest;
but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
were better my mother had not borne me. . .
I think that’s true of all of us. We are all only indifferent honest.
These days that may not be a popular view. There’s a lot of black and white thinking out there. People are viewed in black and white terms; issues are defined in black and white terms. Too often discussions these days start from the premise “I’m right and you’re wrong.” Politics and religion are prime culprits in this but fandom can be the same way. Example: when Wil Smith was cast as Deadshot some people were outraged – the film was going to suck because Deadshot wasn’t white. No discussion was allowed.
I can go that route as much as anyone. I really don’t like Donald Trump and I’m not prepared to reconsider it. I don’t understand people who are in his corner; I find him to be a dangerous megalomaniac. However, my job as a writer to to find a way to understand him and his supporters. Where is something like them, like Trump, in me? If I wanted to write a Trump-like character and not make him just a cartoonish buffoon (well, any more of a cartoonish buffoon than he already is), I have to find those parts of myself that resonate with him, with them.
Once, in Wasteland, I wrote a story from the perspective of a serial killer. I wanted the reader to identify with him, to find out where he lived in them so first I had to find those points in myself. That took me to some very creepy places but, I think, the story worked. From what I’ve read, Jared Leto felt he had to do something like that to play the Joker in the Squad film. It’s a weird contradiction – you have to use empathy to create a character without empathy. And then I ask the reader to go there as well.
Ultimately, with the Squad stories I wrote, I asked the readers to identify with the villains. As Will Smith’s Deadshot says in one of the trailers, “Don’t forget – we’re the bad guys.” If the film works (and I think it’s going to), it will ask the audience to identify with these “bad guys” – just as we did in the comic.
Hopefully, we will all be uncomfortably entertained.
This past weekend was WonderCon out in LA. DC made many announcements about it’s upcoming Rebirth, some of which we already had some idea about. Now we were given information on creative teams, like Scott Snyder heading up All-Star Batman with rotating artists including Sean Murphy and Paul Pope, and James Tynion IV taking the reigns on the soon to be back-numbered Detective Comics. One of the other Bat family announcements was that they will soon be revealing the Joker’s name.
The short answer is that Batman found out his name when he asked that question on the Möbius chair in Justice League #42 (42, the answer to the ultimate question of life. Coincidence?). The long answer is a combination of figuring out how to handle a decades old franchise coupled with changes in audience expectations.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. Don’t we already know the Joker’s name? Many comic historians will tell you that the Joker is Jerry Robinson. Some out there may still argue his name is Bill Finger or even Bob Kane. Or maybe it was Conrad Veidt?
His name has changed many times over the years. Dick Sprang, Carmine Infantino, Denny O’Neil (Hi Denny!), Neal Adams, and many others. Personally, I liked when the Joker was both Marshall Rogers and Steve Englehart. Maybe sharing two minds helped to fuel his insanity. In more recent years, he’s gone by Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Tony Daniel, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and many other names.
There are some purists out there who will tell you that no, the Joker only has one name. They’ll argue with you that his one true name is Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, or Heath Ledger. Some new Joker worshippers are even claiming that his real name has been Jared Leto all along. Perhaps we’ll find out soon enough.
Now that I’ve had my fun, I’ll address the long answer to that question (kind of the sort of thing the Joker does, isn’t it?) of why we are finding out the Joker’s name. The real answer is we’ve changed a lot as a society. Part of that is entertainment is different. Oddly enough, in the disposable age where we create more garbage than ever, the one thing we won’t discard is a story.
Way back in May of 1939 when Batman debuted, back when the United States was only comprised of the continental 48, comics were not intended to be reprinted the way they are today. Audiences were not expected to stick around either. No one imagined that a nine-year old reading Batman would still follow that character for decades to come. All of that came later. Television was the same way. People used to just pump out television programs and if an episode was rushed and turned out to be pretty bad, who cares! People will forget by next week. Who would ever see it again?
Now that’s all changed. We’ve gone back and we’ve read many of those stories. We’ve tried to make continuity out of stories that were never intended to have any originally because we demand that the world makes sense. We even demand that the Joker makes sense. Part of making the Joker make sense is giving him a name.
Personally, I have less than no interest in the Joker’s name. Just tell me a good story with the character. That’s not the point of the Joker. Audiences want it though. Or we think they do. In the age of the Internet, people want to know everything about the things they like. Many people “keep up” with comics by reading wiki entries of storylines at this point. Maybe it’ll sell a few comics too.
In defense of the decision to reveal the Joker’s name, audiences do appreciate an immersive world and I do appreciate that and I even enjoy that myself. Escapism is easier in a fully fleshed out world that we can imagine. When imaginary worlds leave out pieces of information like that, it can be harder to be immersed in that world. Plus, selling a few comics isn’t and shouldn’t be a bad thing. Having issues of comics sell big in this market helps to allow the wiggle room to try more experimental comics or to keep a critically acclaimed comic that might not be selling as well afloat for a few more months.
Either way, we’re finding out his name whether we like it or not. I could have sworn Tim Burton already told us his name was Jack. I don’t see why Burton would lie to us.
This week the Internet was all a-twitter with news that the movie version of Suicide Squad, the series that I created in 1987, had been mostly cast. (You can read about it here.) The film is scheduled to debut in August 2016 and will be the first Warner Bros. DC film after the Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice flick that shows up earlier that year.
As with any comic book movie, there has been substantial debate over the casting, largely focusing on Will Smith as Deadshot, the inclusion of the Joker at all (whether played by Jared Leto or not) and the possibility of Oprah Winfrey playing Amanda Waller. Heck, my fellow columnists Mike Gold and Marc Alan Fishman have already chimed in. I held forth in an interview on what I thought of the casting and why. I’m going to hold forth a little here as well. I need to get a column in and it would seem strange if everyone else here was talking about the movie and the casting and I didn’t.
Let me say upfront: I haven’t seen the script and I haven’t been consulted. Nor do I expect to be. I have no track record in Hollywood and Warner Bros. is putting a lot of money into this. A lot of money. The salaries alone will be substantial. It’s not a time to be using an amateur and that’s what I am as far as movies are concerned. The film’s writer and director will have their own take on the characters and they maybe, probably will be, different from mine.
That’s how it should be. The needs of a movie are different than the needs of a comic book. When I started doing the Squad, my versions of the characters were substantially different than how they were portrayed before. I took charge of the characters, tried to keep them consistent with who they were, but I didn’t ask if I could change them up. I just did it. It wasn’t gratuitous; it was always in service of the story I was telling. I fully expect those doing the movie to do the same thing.
It makes sense that they would go for the biggest names they could get for the characters; the general public doesn’t know anything about the Squad. This movie is positioned right after the Superman v Batman flick so it’s going to be high visibility. For the sake of not only this film but for the whole DC movie franchise, it has to sell a lot of tickets. Lots and lots of tickets.
Again, let’s be honest – I’m glad that the Squad has had so many of loyal fans over the years but there aren’t enough of them to fill a single theater for more than a week and that’s only if all of them go and do it more than once. If a Squad movie is going to be a success, it has to bring in the general public in droves. How do you do that? You feature the Joker, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Tom Hardy, and maybe Oprah Winfrey. Those are names that the general public knows. They sell tickets.
Yes, I have a vested interest in a success and it hinges on the character of Amanda Waller. The name Suicide Squad, most of the characters in it – they all existed before I used them. I don’t participate financially when they get used again. Amanda is different; she was my creation and I have what is called “participation” when she gets used in other media. In other words, I’ll make some money for doing nothing more than being a swell fellow. It also depends on how important to the film Waller is and how much she is used. A big name – such Oprah – makes it more likely that she’ll have an important part. Oprah ain’t doing no cameo. Over and above the fact that I really think she would be wonderful in the part, she makes my participation better.
I want the movie to succeed. I want it to spawn sequels. I want it to have merchandising; I want an Amanda Waller action figure. I’m crass enough to admit I want it to make money because then I make money. The best way for it to do that is to be a damn good story and that’s what I want more than anything else.
So now we’ve got most of the Suicide Squad movie cast – Tom Hardy as Rick Flagg (who probably won’t be turning into Bane), Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Cara Delevingne as Enchantress, Jared Leto as The Joker and maybe – just maybe – Oprah Winfrey as Amanda Waller. Jai Courtney will be playing Captain Boomerang, not to be confused with Nick Tarabay, who plays the part on the Arrow and Flash teevee series.
Warner Bros’ dedication to the complete separation of television and movies is why they’ve been the go-to studio for such great superhero movies as Catwoman, all but the first two Superman movies (and only half of the second), the third and fourth Batman movies, Steel, Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, and, oh yeah, the theatrical version of Constantine. Maybe Tarabay’s Boomerang will take a vacation from the Flash and Arrow shows (et al) around the time of the Suicide Squad movie, but the actorectomy will still annoy the faithful… as will the different Flash and Green (or not) Arrow performers. It is the faithful who now drive the bus. Our hyper-excited word-of-mouth makes for nine figure opening weekends.
They can change Amanda Waller performers all they want. They’ll never run out of black actors, and thus far they’ve employed so many in the role they can fill all the empty seats at New York Jets games.
In fact, I’m very pleased to see the Suicide Squad getting the big-budget treatment. It’s a good concept, one that came out of the Legends series I named and edited. This version was created by ComicMix columnist and massively talented writer John Ostrander, who also created the aforementioned Ms. Waller. And for the record, ComicMix reviewer Bob Greenberger edited that book. So expect to see the ComicMix crew at the mandatory night-before screenings.
I’m not the only person who has raised the question of how much is too much. I can’t fault Hollywood for Hulking-out on a fad: that is what Hollywood does. Can the market support all this? Even if the “product” is uniformly great – and good luck with that – there’s only so much of one thing to go around. I just hope we get excellent Wonder Woman and Doctor Strange flicks.
Warner Bros. must learn the lesson that has worked so well, so fantastically well, for Disney’s Marvel Studios. They must respect the source material and they must show that respect on the screen at all times. It’s not good enough to simply have wonderful CG – we get that on Doctor Who. It’s not good enough to have name actors. You have to play the material for the faithful – establish your characters and treat them sympathetically.
Of course they’re creating their own reality. We do that all the time. But to quote another ComicMix columnist, Dennis O’Neil, “sure it’s phony science – but it’s our phony science.”
When it comes to writing from the sense of wonder, truer words were never spoken.