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Monday, August 29, 2016

Panel Vision - 5 Things to Expect from Suicide Squad 2

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Edited by Robert Beach

After three weeks in the #1 spot on the box-office charts and a comfortable spot as the 8th highest grossing film of the year, Suicide Squad is a bona fide hit. Granted, it’s one of those hits like Godzilla (2014) or Cinderella where it makes a ton of money, but the cultural impact is a lot more questionable. Given DC’s track record, monetary success coupled with anything less than audience loathing seems to be enough to register success. With that, DC still has two open slots in their cinematic schedule; it’s probably that time where we all start speculating about what the sequel might bring. 

However, that’s going to be a little different for DC as their films don’t boast much interconnectivity, and Suicide Squad, in particular, wasn’t founded on a franchise mentality. Regardless of quality, the structure of the film was such that any sequel would be more or less free to be another “villains on a mission” movie, swapping out the villains and the mission. And yet, I believe it could do more. I’ve put together a list of 5 things to improve on the first movie in Suicide Squad 2.

This one could be for two central reasons.  Firstly, the big story that emerged about Suicide Squad as the film hit theaters was the mountain of behind-the-scenes shenanigans that informed the production.  These stories had been circulating for a while, mainly revolving around the antics of Jared Leto as he “got into character” for the Joker. However, the post-release story was that WB had ordered heavy re-edits by the team that put together the various trailers in an attempt to make the film more quirky and upbeat as opposed to the much darker version David Ayer had initially envisioned. 

Given that level of studio tampering and the success it rendered, I wouldn’t be surprised if WB sought a new director for a second installment. That way they could avoid this level of behind-the-scenes publicity. Getting a more pliable writer/director team was the same move Sony made when they rebooted Spider-Man as well as how Marvel handled their issues with Thor: The Dark World, so I don’t think the change would be an absolute good by any metric. 

The other reason I could see WB swapping out the creative team is an issue of scheduling. The two currently available slots on WB’s release schedule are October 2018 and November 2019, so if they wanted to capitalize on an early release, they’d need to start production very soon. The problem is David Ayer is already involved in pre-production on his new project Bright. I’m not sure he’d be available for the 2018 production cycle. DC swapping out Ayer seems like it could be a very real possibility. 

One of the more interesting things about the Suicide Squad (the team) is that they’ve always maintained a large and ever-changing roster. Teams like the Justice League or Avengers may switch things up occasionally, but they have the same basic make-up all the time: always an Iron Man, always a Batman, and so on. 

With the Suicide Squad, their very nature as a collection of C-list villains means they’ve acquired a ton of various members over the years. Some of these were dumb additions, though a lot of them have become fan favorites and provide a lot of variety for future films, so it’d be easy enough to swap in cool, new villains to replace those killed or those who didn’t gel with fans. 

For instance: pretty much nobody has been all that engaged with Killer Croc from the new film, so he’ll get swapped out for King Shark, a hideous shark man. Count Vertigo, an aristocratic European villain with dizziness powers, is a standard squad member as is Killer Frost, an ice-powered woman super villain. 

Personally, I’d like to see Major Disaster, a villain with the ability to cause natural disasters, make an appearance.  There’s also the question of the Joker as he was a big selling point of the film without actually being on the Squad. If WB wants a new Bat villain to throw around on the Squad, they might go with Bane, especially if they were also looking to replace Croc. 

One of the complaints people have rightly lodged against Suicide Squad is that the team only existed to clean-up their own mess.  It’s a good point and certainly highlights how much the team failed to live up to their stated purposes in-universe, one of which was to act as a team of meta-human WMDs. 

That’s pretty well in-line with the original comics pitch: the Squad act as government assets in the height of the Cold War (mid-'80s) and are deployed to flashpoints in Russia, South America, and the Middle East.  If WB is going to make a second film, they should refocus the team on their stated goal while also exploring the larger global world of the DC Entertainment Universe, which could be a winning combination. 

Historically, the Squad has mostly fought in Russia and the Middle East, either of which could serve as a serviceable setting currently. The nature of the mission and antagonists would require the most change given the regularly demanded scale of superhero adventures. Like it or not, most superhero movies nowadays demand large stakes and scale a stripped-down espionage thriller don’t offer.

Despite this, giving the Squad a more limited scope of operation would be a smart way to deal with their incredibly low-power roster if WB didn’t want to add more powerful members to the team. Although, if they did add a few world stompers to the team like the chemical giant Chemo or the General, there are plenty of evil organizations in DC’s mythos that the Squad could tangle with without ever copying Marvel’s Hydra set-up. 

This is the other major purpose that formed the team in the film: the idea that the US government specifically needs a team of bad guys in case the superheroes turn rogue. I’m not opposed to that idea in theory, but Suicide Squad, the movie, really doesn’t live up to that claim.  

I mean, for context’s sake, the team is looking to take down people like Wonder Woman or the Flash with guys like Deadshot and Killer Croc. Most of the Squad’s roster couldn’t take down Batman or the Joker. They aren’t going to be able to stop an Amazonian demigod or a man who can move faster than the human eye. 

If WB did want to set-up the Suicide Squad fighting some rogue hero for the follow-up film, that would require more powerful members. Thankfully, the team has a deep bench. This seems like a doable idea on the assumption that WB allows bigger bad guys for the second film.  

As for the hero they might go up against, the obvious choice would be Superman, though there are plenty of lower-tier heroes they could chase down. They wouldn’t necessarily need to fight a ‘rogue’ hero either as they could go head-to-head with some new powered being that everyone was unsure of at the moment, which brings me to my final point. 

One of the interesting things about the structure and format of the DCEU is that each film has set-up the next installment like dominoes. The events of Man of Steel caused the feud of Batman v. Superman where Superman’s death triggered both Justice League and Suicide Squad.  

From there, Justice League is serving as a launch pad for The Flash and Aquaman while Suicide Squad has possibly set-up characters for Batman, Justice League Dark.  Even The Flash is getting in on this, adding a central cameo from Cyborg to help tee up his solo film. Given that, and DC’s overall approach of big films splintering into the solo outings, they’d probably want the next film to continue setting up future outings. 

If Suicide Squad takes the fall 2018 spot, it’d be perfectly placed to launch Shazam in April of 2019, possibly be featuring some of his villains like Black Adam or Dr. Sivanna.  However, I think it’s more likely DC will place Justice League Dark into the 2018 spot and leave 2019 for Suicide Squad 2 (if announced). If that’s the case, the film will be setting up Cyborg and Green Lantern, the latter of which would be most fitting. 

The Suicide Squad has featured a whole slew of Green Lantern foes such as Major Disaster, King Shark, Tattooed Man, and even the space tyrant Mongul. What’s more, Green Lantern tends to be a globetrotting hero who has caused international incidents before, the very kind that would require the Squad’s intervention. Finally, if push comes to shove, WB could always just fully embrace their tactic of ripping off Guardians of the Galaxy and shoot the Suicide Squad into space. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened. 

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