How the New DC Movie Will Be Different Than You Expect

Source: Warner Bros.

Jared Leto as the Joker | Source: Warner Bros.

The contrast between the DC and Marvel movie universe has been stark in 2016. Batman v Superman debuted to poor reviews and disappointed at the box office, while Marvel outstripped it in both departments with Civil War months later. It’s led to a fair share of scrambling at the Warner Bros. offices, culminating in the restructure of their entire DC department. Meanwhile, their Flash movie lost its director, Aquaman found itself the subject of similar rumors (since confirmed false), and most prominently, Suicide Squad went in for reshoots.

Those reshoots are significant for one big reason: DC is putting all its eggs in the Suicide Squad basket come August. A lot’s riding on the success of that movie, and with the wounds of BvS still fresh, Warner will need a win, lest they lose out to Marvel’s November release of Doctor Strange. That said, there’s no shortage of reasons to be excited for Suicide Squad. It represents a series of firsts for both DC and the superhero genre as a whole. If it sticks the landing, it could end up being the crown jewel of the DC Expanded Universe.

It’s path to success won’t be an easy one, but it’s helped by the fact that no one else has tried anything quite like it. And if Iron Man taught us anything back in 2008, it’s that being first to the table carries its own intrinsic value. Suicide Squad holds the distinct honor of being the first to prominently feature villains as the primary characters, taking the already-popular anti-hero motif to new heights.

Marvel broke the mold when it released Guardians of the Galaxy. It gave us a new, exciting spin on the “united band of misfits,” expertly infusing humor and a killer soundtrack into a series of stellar performances. Suicide Squad has the chance to fill the same role for DC, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The biggest criticism surrounding Batman v Superman honed in on its more humorless approach to superheroes, and if the two trailers we’ve seen are any indicator, we’ll be seeing a different tact this time around.

Zack Snyder still has creative control over the bulk of the DCEU, and we know that the grim tone of BvS will carry over to most other films in the franchise. But Suicide Squad represents the slice of the saga that takes a hard left turn from this. Assuming all goes to plan, it’ll be the first diversion into lightheartedness and humor DC has taken since the ill-fated Green Lantern. It puts the project out on a limb in some ways, but in others, it’s a necessary risk that could assure the long-term survival of the franchise.

If Suicide Squad manages to live up to all the hype, it won’t be just its lighter touch that makes it important. DC’s most successful films throughout the years have all shared one quality: the presence of either Batman or Superman as main players. The one time DC tried to focus on a different member of the Justice League, we got Green Lantern, a movie that’s since become a cautionary tale for the studio.

Suicide Squad DC movie, DC Comics, Warner Bros.

Suicide Squad releases August 5  nationwide | Source: Warner Bros.

Taking a break from DC’s two primary heroes isn’t just a relief; it’s a necessity. Warner has a long way to go before it can prove the viability of other DC characters, and it has a lot riding on standalone movies for the likes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg. If it can’t prove its acumen in writing for heroes (and anti-heroes) who aren’t Batman and Superman, it doesn’t bode well for the planned Justice League saga.

For what it’s worth, early returns from screenings of Suicide Squad have been overwhelmingly positive. Reception from audiences ranged from “best DC movie I’ve ever seen!” to “genius,” with one Reddit user even claiming that the brief appearance of Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight pulls inspiration from Bruce Timm’s revolutionary Batman: The Animated Series. We saw similarly positive hype for BvS before its release, and yet still, it’s tough to root against a project with the potential to be anything like B:TAS. 

Whatever Suicide Squad ends up being for DC, for better or worse, it’ll be different. It affords us a look at an unexplored corner of the superhero genre, buoyed by a strong cast, intriguing source material, and a director who knows his way around a fun action movie. And while the stakes will be high for Warner, they also have a lot to gain should it hit home at the box office.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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