Suicide Squad: Can DC deliver a sucker punch to Marvel?

Pick or don’t pick. This has always been our choice. Some do. Most don’t. Many won’t ever know the difference. The eternal battle of the ‘fan boy’ rages on for those who have made their choice, and will forever hold true to the cause. DC or Marvel? Haven’t you already picked? We do, of course, need to be fed to hold fast and remain strong on the battlefield, and of late the Marvel fan boys have been getting fat and lazy. But DC are sending supplies to the frontlines; they’re just taking their damned time about it.

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As soon as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy settled down Marvel went into their three phase all-out assault on the movie going public and DC were left wanting, with the exception of the excellent reimagining of the Man of Steel himself. But next year could see them taking on the mighty Avengers machine with their own programme of superheroes, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and, more intriguingly, supervillains. Get ready for a return from the character that nobody wanted to portray, yet anybody in their right mind couldn’t possibly ever turn down. Are we just about ready to lay Heath Ledger’s performance to bed? Jared Leto is certainly hoping so as he leads out the Suicide Squad next year in what could be one of the most anticipated movies in the history of the entire genre. It’s time to prepare ourselves for the darkest comic adaptation yet, or that’s what we’re hoping for anyway. So what do we know already?

Jared Leto is already confirmed as the Joker in a role that the actor considers to be ‘an opportunity to play a character of Shakespearian depth’. Leto’s appointment sees the starring role being adopted by three Oscar winners now, perhaps just one of the reasons why we should begin to become excited by the movie, and also a chance to see if someone new can bring something different to a character that is indeed a giant both on and off the screen now. Leto is joined by Will Smith as Deadshot, which has raised a few eyebrows, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, which has raised a few other things (?!), and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, which is still a bit contentious in as much as how Luthor would be included within the storyline. There have been a lot of ‘in’s and out’s’ throughout casting with Tom Hardy, Jake Gyllenhall, and even Phillip Seymour-Hoffmann (now unavailable for obvious reasons) rumoured at one point. It comes across as a rather strange line-up, but it certainly isn’t the worst roster of actors we’ve ever seen, and just another affirmation of the comic book genre being taken as seriously by the players as it is by its audience. But what about the story, and are we likely to see any of our beloved superheroes scooping up any of the squad who may just wander off task if given the opportunity? The word right now is that David Ayer and DC don’t want to muddy the waters between the Justice League movies and the supervillain movies, so as of yet it appears unlikely that Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill will make an appearance, but this may change, as of course can many other things, one of which is the supposed plot. But let’s start with the basics. For anyone unaware of the premise behind the Suicide Squad, it goes a little something like this:

The Suicide Squad, otherwise known by the group title Task Force X, are a team of imprisoned DC supervillains who, in return for reduced sentences, or even the cleansing of their past misdemeanours, take on the role of government led risk-laden, yet disposable, operatives in dangerous missions which the ruling powers want to keep well out of the hands of their available superheroes. Led by the Belle Reve Penitentiary’s (no, not Arkham Asylum) most guarded visitor, Dr Amanda Waller, they are chosen for their ability to get the job done at any given cost – sometimes their own lives and often the lives of many others. Many minor characters have been killed off throughout the comic book series, and it will come as no huge surprise to see some bigger names scratched from any future movie appearances in their very first outing, and although audiences may not be familiar with these names some of the comic book community could well be horrified by the ‘offing’ of their favourites in what may well be a truly polarising feature. David Ayer should be ready for some very angry fan mail and might want to give Comic Con a miss if he’s about to start hacking the DC universe to bits at his very first attempt. One thing that was very notable in the comic book series was the annual specials where the returned supervillains, post mission, would often be psychoanalysed back at Belle Reve in some fantastic back and forth dialogue that was often much darker than expected. Hopefully we’ll see some of this in the movie, but that may be asking a bit much. Fingers crossed though.

From the whispers around the industry, and no end of internet postings from those who claim to have seen the script, we are no doubt going to see things alter along the way, but there are some definite constants that keep appearing and reappearing, so we can just about trust that these should make the final cut. The twisted love story between Harley Quinn and The Joker will be pivotal throughout, something we haven’t seen before. Some big names will die, again something we haven’t seen since Game of Thrones started killing off everyone and their dog with unnerving consistency whilst still maintaining an incredible ‘watchability’. This is going to be ‘darker than anything seen before in the comic book genre’ according to director Ayer, something we have seen before with Blade, which was done well, and Ghost Rider, which really wasn’t. But can it bring a darkness and that all important sense of dread whilst holding a PG-13 rating that the money men will no doubt be seeking? Well, Zak Snyder is confirmed as an Executive Producer, so we know it will be visually spectacular, but more importantly Ayer will have somebody we can trust looking over his shoulder at all times. If things start looking a bit dodgy then you can be sure Snyder will be tasked with jumping in, work commitments allowing. There is still an awfully long way to go with this one, but there’s also plenty to get excited about. Next year could be a pivotal year for both DC and Marvel, but more significantly it could be a definitive year for the genre as a whole.

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