So I definitely found all the fun in the DCCU, and it looks like I was right – it is going to come from the villains. Look no further than the recently released trailer for Suicide Squad, where I finally get the sense that there is more to the DCCU than brooding, gritty darkness. Somehow, the characters that are supposed to be the baddest and meanest have the most time to have fun, joke around, and lighten the mood. That’s not to say there aren’t some really disturbing visuals, though. Have a look:
Justice has a bad side.
The trailer opens on a kind of brainstorming dinner with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) center screen, “It’s taken some work but I finally have them; the worst of the worst.” There is a quick cut to the interior of some darkened building (possibly Arkham Asylum), and then a clearly audible clock-winding sound. We cut to the Warner Bros. logo and DC Comics logo, both of which are wound up and set ticking . . . like a time bomb. We return to the dinner in extreme close-up of Waller cutting through her steak, the tearing of the meat quite audible – a brutal but efficient action. The idea Waller is batting around is very simple: she has a collection of bad guys with abilities, and some problems she wants solved – namely even worse guys. They may be hard to control, but Waller is good at making people act against their own best interests, and in the worst case scenario where some of these bad guys go AWOL – we just blame them for being their own crazy selves, so the public can’t get too pissed off. So, throw these psychos together and let them go nuts on some other baddies? Sounds perfect.
And what psychos do we get? The first clear look we get is of a pale, upside-down Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, AKA Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Then, a song begins playing, as we cut between scenes of other members of the Squad: “I started a joke (El Diablo), which started the whole world (Deadshot) crying (Killer Croc). And I didn’t see (Enchantress), that the joke was on me.” As the first part of the song finishes, we get a street-level view of some of the squad walking together, which serves as our introduction to Boomerang, Katana, and Rick Flagg. Then Deadshot (Will Smith) offers us the eponymous line, “So that’s it, huh? We’re the Patsies. We’re some kinda suicide squad.” Sweet.
As the cool song about jokes continues, the trailer follows the standard action trailer paradigm of inter-cutting multiple, unrelated action scenes with the more identifiable characters, but also includes a few laughs from Harley Quinn. She mimes firing a shotgun with her baseball bat, and during our brief view of Batman clinging to the top of the car she is riding in, she quips, “I hope you got insurance”. Slightly later, as Boomerang asks, “You know what they say about the crazy ones?” she looks at him quizzically, and on her, “Huh?” we get a burst of off-screen laughter. Here, finally, we get a full view of Jared Leto’s Joker, a gaunt, tattooed psycho sporting his familiar green hair and white face – but also a mouthful of chrome-colored teeth. “Oh, I’m not gonna kill ya”, he reassures his victim, “I’m just gonna hurt ya. Really, really bad.” The trailer ends with the Suicide Squad logo and a smile on my face.
This was a great trailer. The “I started a joke” song is haunting and beautiful, and the visuals are well-timed in relation to it. Further, only the barest of plot details are revealed despite a full-fledged introduction to the story an its characters. As strong as the first trailer for Batman v Superman was, unfortunately it felt like more of the same darkly brooding in broody darkness that we had to deal with during Man of Steel. Somebody crack a fucking joke! I have high hopes that Lex Luthor will be able to inject some twisted fun and levity into that film, but I am absolutely certain that Suicide Squad will have it in spades. The tone of this film, at least from the trailer, looks to be more like an Avengers of anti-heroes, full of sarcasm, repartee, and a twisted sense of humor. It appears as though Batman v Superman has a higher hurdle to clear in order to become great than does Suicide Squad. That film risks losing the whole thing if it fails to provide convincing motivations for the two titular characters to fight, and could also just get bogged down in dreariness. Meanwhile, Suicide Squad gets to simply toss its deranged villains in a blender and hit, “Whirl”. I’m sorry Batman v. Superman, but you’re playing for second.