It seems folly to discuss Wonder Woman outside of the greater context of the DC Extended Universe, but Patty Jenkins’s film begs to be discussed in isolation – it’s simply in another stratosphere. So, that’s it; that’s all the comparison to the DCEU that will be contained in this review. The rest of the time will be spent heralding Wonder Woman as a superhero film that knows precisely how to tell a refreshing origin story, establish stakes and pathos in a fantastic world, and champion a powerful theme of heroism, strength, and love. With a stunning performance from Gal Gadot, a brilliant fish-out-of-water skeleton, and action sequences that contain spectacle and depth, Wonder Woman is potent storytelling.
With Suicide Squad, writer/director David Ayer has accomplished little beyond kicking the can that is the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) down the road another ten months, leaving us all to hope that maybe, just maybe, Wonder Woman will be the first good DCEU film. Between a crowded cast of thin characters, a banal and cookie-cutter plot, and a confused jumble of non-themes and stylistic choices, the film is bereft of quality in almost every sense. Though some top-level performances generate intriguing characters, they are utterly squandered by the surrounding issues and ultimately leave Suicide Squad with a very scattered, up-and-down feel. While it may not be as unintelligible or frenzied as Batman v. Superman, Ayer’s film possesses the greater flaw: a bland story.
So, Suicide Squad is a flaming heap of garbage, but how do we fix it? That’s the focus of this piece. I have a more standard review of the film as a companion piece to this, which is linked above, but in the meantime I decided to present this piece as a reasonable means to improve upon the film. Suffice to say, this post will contain spoilers for the film beyond what is normal for a review, as I have to discuss intricate plot details. So, if you’re sensitive to spoilers, you’ve been sufficiently warned. If you’re still game, what follows will be my humble proposal for how one could avoid the pitfalls that befell Suicide Squad and ultimately arrive at an overall superior film.
Batman v Superman plods along with the pacing of a courtroom, which may be why it is named like a civil suit between our two heroes. Given the manufactured fighting between the two, there may have been more believable drama had Batman decided to sue the Man of Steel for destruction of property. Instead, we are left with the standard flaws that always seem to accompany the direction of Zack Snyder: bizarre use of music, rushed and unearned plotting, and action sequences that, while reasonably entertaining, strain comprehension. It is altogether a shame, because the eponymous characters are iconic and beloved – and well portrayed in this film. There simply isn’t anything terribly interesting for them to do.
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: