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Saturday, 8 August 2015

TRAILER TALK - SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)

Directed by: David Ayer
Written by: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie
Release date: August 5, 2016


This trailer's sudden appearance online was quite unexpected. Shortly before the Batman v Superman trailer was shown at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, there was a surprise (and by "surprise" I mean it hadn't been officially announced but everybody knew it was coming) appearance by director David Ayer, who briefly showed off a teaser trailer for WB/DC's upcoming supervillain team-up, Suicide Squad. This teaser was intended to be an exclusive look for those who had waited in line for days to eventually heave their heavy bones into Hall H, but just like every other "exclusive" piece of footage in Comic-Con history, some brave soul decided to record it in awful mobile phone quality for the people of the interwebs to see. This led to the release of a reluctant statement from Warner Bros., saying that this material was not intended for the wider audience and that they have no plans to release this footage to the public any time soon.

Then they released it officially the next day and here we are.

Whether it was WB's plan to release this footage officially mere days after the online premiere of their first full-length Batman v Superman trailer we'll never know, but if not then I'd like to thank whoever it was that took it upon themselves to defy the rules and get it out there. Suicide Squad has received an absolutely incredible amount of attention through views and social media -- even slightly more than Batman v Superman at time of writing. Which is a huge surprise, considering that the Suicide Squad is a largely unknown property.


The first thing we see in this trailer  is Academy Award nominee Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. Sure, maybe Davis is a tad thinner than most interpretations, but this is some stellar casting. Waller is usually depicted as a determined, intelligent and utterly ruthless character, and judging from the dialogue she has in this trailer, it looks like that hard-as-nails demeanor is present here. I'd expect nothing less for such a well-respected character.


The first few shots of this trailer are brilliantly filmed and almost immediately make it apparent that Suicide Squad is going to be very different to the majority of comic book movies today - and thank God for that, because I love this genre and I want it to continue for as long as it can, but the "fun", lighthearted popcorn flicks that take up most of the superhero roster today are really starting to get stale. Suicide Squad looks beautifully twisted and judging from the film's tagline and Ayer's comments at Comic-Con ("it's time for bad versus evil"), it may actually be that. The last thing that should happen in this film is for everyone to find the hidden goodness in their hearts and turn over new leaves like so many other projects with this kind of premise have. The Suicide Squad cast is made up of some of the nastiest and deadliest villains from DC Comics - with a few exceptions such as Karen Fukahara's Katana (who, while I'm glad WB are giving some attention to, her appearance here is curious as her usual role is that of a hero). The point is, these are not good people. 


This teaser unsurprisingly doesn't actually reveal much about the plot, other than the fact that it seems to be the usual premise for the Suicide Squad: criminals and convicts are forced to assemble a team, in order to perform covert missions for the government that would be considered too dangerous for most to attempt. If one of them dies it's nobody's problem, seeing as nobody will miss them. Anyone who makes it out alive gets shortened prison sentences. One or two squad members will surely hit the floor within the first hour (Adam Beach's Z-list character Slipknot is almost definitely a dead man walking), and they aren't going to get along one hundred percent of the time. 


Harley Quinn is one of the biggest focuses of this teaser, which comes as no surprise seeing as how the character's popularity has exploded in recent years. I'm personally not a huge fan of the decision to go with a more New 52-inspired look for her here (not that I was expecting a full-blown jester outfit), but Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie is perfect casting and I'd be surprised if she didn't recreate the character in her own image after the release of this film. We also get glimpses of Cara Delevigne as the schizophrenic Enchantress, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (you bet I copy-pasted that) as Batman villain Killer Croc, and Will Smith as leader and deadly assassin Deadshot among others. I'm not one of those "practical is always better than CGI!" kind of people, but I have to say that the prosthetics on Killer Croc look fantastic, and Ayer's usual method of making everything as real as possible has actually translated very well based on this footage. Will Smith seems like he's just playing himself as usual here, which I suppose he can probably get away with due to Deadshot's occasional status as an anti-hero. Hopefully he'll still have a bit of an edge to him, though. Ayer is going to have to find a fine line between making most of these characters as villainous as possible while somehow simultaneously making us actually care for them. Sounds like a bit of a challenge, but after End of Watch and Fury, I'm confident he can pull it off.


Possibly my favourite thing about this teaser is that there are various moments throughout that show us Suicide Squad has great potential to actually have relative amounts of fun along with the moodiness (proving to every fanboy on the internet that you can actually have both). There are lackeys in this trailer that presumably work for the Joker (more on him later), who wear all kinds of crazy stuff like masks resembling eyeballs, goat heads and baby heads. There's also a thug in a Batman mask, and even someone dressed in a panda costume while wielding a machine gun, who I'm fairly sure will be the unsung hero of this film. The Dark Knight himself also makes a brief appearance on top of what leaked set pictures have revealed to be the Joker's car, carrying he and Harley Quinn. It's doubtful that Batman will have a large on-screen presence in the film (hopefully not, at least), but regardless his appearance alone will be enough to put butts in seats and it'll be interesting to see him pop in and out, as it'll be an indication that WB have actually created a real shared universe. Speaking of which, an early line from Amanda Waller suggests that Superman's arrival on Earth in Man of Steel is the catalyst for all these new superpowered beings coming out of hiding, which seems like it could be a pretty solid reason, and if they handle it well it could feel much more natural than what the Marvel Cinematic Universe did.


And of course, that eerie Bee Gees cover comes to an end and they save what everybody wanted to see for last: the first look at Jared Leto's Joker. The reaction to this casting was almost the polar opposite of the late Heath Ledger's, with pretty much everyone seemingly on board from the start. Then the first official image of Leto in full make-up dropped, and the new take on the character's traditional design garnered a mixed reception. I personally still think that Ayer and co are gonna have to come up with something really good to justify that "damaged" forehead tattoo (thankfully it's out-of-shot most of the time here), but the general consensus is that Leto looks fantastic in motion and I have to agree. There isn't much of him here but based on this footage, this is the one live-action incarnation of the Joker that actually unnerves me a little. Leto certainly has the craziest eyes out of any big-screen Joker so far.

The comparisons between Heath Ledger and Jared Leto began the day the latter was cast and will continue after Suicide Squad's release, and nobody is ever going to be able to stop them. But these comparisons are completely pointless. No future actor to ever play the Joker is ever going to "beat" Heath Ledger. Audiences aren't going to walk out of Suicide Squad next year and unanimously agree that the guy in that movie was much better than the one before him. Jared Leto (hot off his Oscar win for Dallas Buyers' Club) is probably one of the best possible choices out there with the potential to give Ledger a run for his money, but whether that potential will be utilized remains to be seen. The best case scenario is that Leto knocks this out of the park and people debate who was better out of the two until the end of time. Neither is going to irrefutably surpass the other.


This trailer has left some wondering whether or not Suicide Squad is going to have an R rating. It's a fair question to ask, considering the grimy and doom-laden nature of the trailer, and that we have scenes showcasing characters bathing in dark liquid/possibly blood beneath a large red pentagram and the Joker torturing a seemingly innocent Harleen Quinzel (pre-Harley, it seems), which is almost definitely going to stir up some kind of controversy online depending on how far they go with it. But there's one thing that makes all of that irrelevant: Batman. As long as Batman rears his pointy head, which he's probably going to be doing in a lot of these films, it's very, very unlikely that we're going to be seeing any R-rated versions of said films, plus you'd think that WB would want to capitalize on all the buzz this trailer has recieved. Besides, you can get away with so much under a PG-13 rating nowadays. Let's not forget that The Dark Knight, in all its insanely grim, damn near depressing glory, was somehow granted one.

Seeing these two trailers together is really starting to put into perspective just how different the "DC Extended Universe" (that's what we're going to have to call it now) is going to be from Marvel's, and it seems as if it's coming together quite well. Judging from the trailers alone these two films already feel naturally connected. In what's set to be an absolutely packed year for this genre, let's hope Suicide Squad is one of the films that delivers. If there's any comicbook movie of 2016 that I'd hate to see fail (other than Batman v Superman), it'd be the one that looks to be a breath of fresh air.

Suicide Squad hits theatres August 5, 2016 worldwide.