Suicide Squad (2016)—A Core Example of Studio Interference
Back in 2009, Warner Brothers announced they were going to make a Suicide Squad movie with David Ayer, best known for his films Fury and End of Watch as the director. You might think all is going well, right? Well that’s where you’re wrong. After the release of the initial trailer and the ill performance of Batman v. Superman in DC’s shared universe, Warner Brothers backpedaled and sought to make Suicide Squad more lighthearted and akin to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. However, this dramatic shift in tone and questionable connection to the DCEU only added fuel to the flames.
Secret Intelligence officer Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) decides to put together a task force called “Task Force X” consisting of max security criminals to act as a contingency plan if there’s another Superman who’s more akin to Omni-Man or Homelander. Deadshot (played by Will Smith), Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (played by Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Enchantress (played by Cara Delevingne), and El Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez) are recruited into Task Force X on the condition that if they complete their mission, they get their sentences reduced. Leading them is U.S. Colonel Rick Flag (played by Joel Kinnaman) who is in love with Enchantress. Oh and the assassin Katana (played by Karen Fukuhara) is also here because…reasons. When Enchantress betrays Waller and awakens her brother, Incubus to destroy the world, Task Force X must stop her.
When I first watched this film in theaters, I felt both disappointed and angry at the end result. The film’s plot was incoherent and most of the characters came off as extremely one-dimensional. Will Smith does the best he can to make the best out of a bad situation, but even his acting felt like his usual “troubled father who is trying to do right by his kids” character since The Pursuit of Happyness. Meanwhile, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is perhaps the worst rendition of the character. While I loved her in Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad, in 2016’s Suicide Squad, she’s just Joker’s love interest. Speaking of the Joker, it should be no surprise that I absolutely HATE Jared Leto’s Joker! Leto tried to do something different with the character, but ended up as just an edgy yuppie mobster who makes weird animal noises. Not to mention that he was a nightmare to work with on set, never trying to break character and sending dead rats and used condoms to his co-stars. Yup, what a guy.
As for the rest of the characters, several of them were just shoehorned in. For example, who the hell is Katana? She’s said to be a warrior-assassin who has a magical sword that seals people’s souls but don’t ever give her a reason to join Task Force X. Seriously, she just jumps on the plane, Rick Flag introduces her, and then nothing more. Additionally, Slip Knot (no, not the band) served no purpose at all besides demonstrating what happens when anyone in Task Force X tries to escape. In a group of master assassins, a pyrotechnic, and an alligator-human hybrid, Slip Knot’s gimmick is that he can climb anything. Umm…ok?
It wasn’t until almost a year later, when I realized that David Ayer’s original cut was going to be darker, with several scenes added or changed, including more scenes with Leto’s Joker, most of which were cut out from the theatrical release. After the success of the #releasethesnydercut movement online, fans began petitioning for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad cut to be released. As of late, there has been no promises from Warner Brothers to release this version of the film, despite leaked scenes of the cut. Despite the film’s poor performance, it did lead to the Harley Quinn spin-off film Birds of Prey and a soft reboot directed by the one and only James Gunn. Both films not only distanced themselves from 2016’s Suicide Squad, but were so good that they put this movie to shame!
Despite the film’s poor critical performance, it won an Academy Award in Best Makeup and Hairstyling. It’s a surprise to say that one of the worst films in the DCEU won an Academy Award. But hey, Green Book won Best Picture over BlacKkKlansman, so what are you gonna say? At the end of the day, it’s a shame to see that Warner Brothers didn’t have a clear direction for the DCEU and simply wanted to copy Marvel’s success. Rather than focus on telling compelling stories about deeply human characters, Warner Brothers only focused on making more money, and in the end, it was studio interference that truly ended the DCEU.