Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Dear Warner Bros. - Please don't screw up Suicide Squad

I started thinking about the slew of comic book movies being released in the coming years. Fox, Sony, Marvel/Disney and DC/Warner Bros. have somewhere around 40 titles confirmed between them over the next 6 years. That's a lot of capes and tights to get excited about. One title, however, has me both intrigued and excited. That title is Suicide Squad.

David Ayer (Fury) is directing this adaptation of the DC Comics property. The main cast has already been announced, though there's been a rather big shakeup with Tom Hardy leaving due to scheduling conflicts. Rumoured to replace him is Jake Gyllenhaal, who I think is a solid choice. Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Jared Leto and possibly Viola Davis round out what's shaping up to be an impressive lineup.

The cast doesn't intrigue nearly as much as the concept.

The Suicide Squad property is a unique one in comics. The basic idea involves "super villains" that are incarcerated facing life in prison. Given an opportunity to shorten their sentence, these bad guys and gals are recruited by a shadowy government agency to pull off missions that are deemed too dangerous for regular field operatives. They're also given added incentive with bombs implanted in their necks to ensure good behavior and strict adherence to the mission at hand. Getting a group of known criminal hardasses to work together is only half the job. 

Hence the name Suicide Squad. Most of them are not expected to survive the way or another.

To me, this sounds like a great recipe for a dark, daring, exciting anti-hero film. So what's my problem? Well, it's mainly the rumour that this film is only seeing the light of day thanks to the success of Marvel/Disney's biggest gamble yet, Guardians of the Galaxy.

If you've seen Guardians, you can imagine how some similarities might make you think the two properties are related. Guardians is about a group of misfit criminals that come together for the common good, saving the world and probably the galaxy they are so zealously guarding now. 

Guardians was a goofy, funny, romping good time. And that's everything Suicide Squad should not be.

WB/DC is going to be sorely tempted to try to emulate Guardians based on it's success. We're all going to have to hope this doesn't happen as Suicide Squad is an entirely different animal.

The Squad members are not brought together by chance or kismet and they're certainly not interested in the greater good. They're forced together under threat of death by a powerful and manipulative government agency headed by a character named Amanda Waller. Waller (rumoured to be played by Viola Davis) is a tough as nails woman with whom you would not want to mess. She's been portrayed as both a villain and an ally in the comics, but mostly she fills a bit of a grey area. These dangerous missions need to get done and she's willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the Squad does just that. 

It's this dynamic that should set Suicide Squad apart. Nobody on this "team" is going to fall on a grenade for anyone. They're career villains looking at spending the rest of their lives in prison. Given a chance to commute some of that sentence, they jump at the chance. Then they wake up with bombs in their necks, being sent out on missions so dangerous they're not all supposed to survive. 

This should make for some stressful, action-packed situations and some very intense exchanges between the various Squad members and Waller herself. 

In other words, please don't make this some zany Guardians clone, Warner Bros. Keep this one dark and gritty. I want my anti-heroes to get dirty while they get dangerous. Let this film stand on it's own unique concept.

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