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Monday, August 8, 2016

What's Next for the Suicide Squad?

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So, Suicide Squad is now a bona fide hit.  Granted a lot of that was the result of an exceptionally weak summer season and a middling box office response for most of the blockbuster flicks of the year but money is money, as WB’s new motto goes, and this movie made enough money that they’re counting it as the first real success of the DC Entertainment Universe.  While that success and the adoption of the “it made cash, that’s a win” philosophy mean a lot of things for WB, like the revival of Man of Steel 2 on the release slate, I’m looking now at what this could mean for the individual Squad members.  

After all, the whole point of a shared universe is that you can have characters from one movie appear somewhere else, that was the whole point of Batman and the Flash being in this movie so it stands to reason the assembled villain of Suicide Squad would appear in other people’s movies as well.  So, here’s where we might next see the members of the Suicide Squad.

This one strikes me as the most obvious of the bunch and also the most foreshadowed.  Even though Waller wasn’t in a lot of Suicide Squad she was definitely the best part and Viola Davis crushed the role, though admittedly Amanda Waller has always attracted some of our best black woman actors like CCH Pounder and Pam Grier.  

Amanda Waller has always traditionally been a harsher DC analogue to Marvel’s Nick Fury, hence her working yet antagonistic relationship with Batman in Suicide Squad.  Given that and the scope of the threats to come in Justice League I’d really be shocked if we didn’t see her pop up there. 

Just speaking from a mechanical standpoint, WB has adopted an inverse Marvel strategy with their films, creating single entries that are replete with heroes and villains who will expand out into their individual films.  That’s why Dawn of Justice set-up Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad put together a league of bad guys to be see later, and Justice League looks like a launching pad for Aquaman and the Flash (think about how much time they got in the trailer compared to say Cyborg.) 

Making Amanda Waller “the government” for all future superhero films pretty much takes care of the question of what they’re doing and their relationship to other heroes without getting into the organizational nightmare of Marvel’s SHIELD shenanigans. 

This is tied to something I’ve been saying about Suicide Squad from the beginning, that WB stacked the film’s deck heavily in favor of the Batman mythos so as to craft it as more of a Batman spin-off than a unique entity in its own right.  

Even though Deadshot was always a Squad regular folks like Joker, Harley Quinn, and Killer Croc were all Batman villains added to the crew and that was before Batman himself made his way into the movie.  While the main reason for this is probably just that WB is still terrified of making non-Batman movies because statistically they’ve produced way more Green Lanterns than Supermans, it also lets them fill up this flick with Batman villains to appear later. 

While Croc and Deadshot both ended Suicide Squad back in prison I wouldn’t be surprised if they found their way into Ben Affleck’s inevitable Batman solo outing.  It’d be an easy continuity nod and they’d work well as single serving bad guys for an opening action scene or to fill the henchmen role.  Jared Leto’s Joker also seems like a really blatant bad guy choice, even if Affleck and friends are loath to craft a whole new movie around him and invite Dark Knight comparisons.  

Even if he’s not the main bad guy, Leto’s Joker being on the loose will have to be address in the Batman movie given his role in the death of Robin in this universe.  What’s more, framing the Joker as more of a twisted crime boss this time around gives the creators carte blanche to just have him run parts of Gotham in relative quiet rather than making him some massive, super villain level antagonist. 

This was big news even before Suicide Squad came out but Harley Quinn will be getting her own spin-off movie.  Honestly that makes the most sense to me and fits really well into the age old representational divide between DC and Marvel.  See, historically speaking DC has always been better at woman characters while Marvel has had the upper hand at racially diverse characters.  

Remember, DC has folks like Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Black Canary while, for the longest time, Marvel’s premiere super heroine was Invisible Woman.  What’s more, Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman were, unquestionably, the best performances of their respective films and did a lot to drive audience reactions.  Even though Harley’s plot in Suicide Squad was poorly executed her presence as a leading character is still pretty big, which is a pretty sad statement on the state of representation in superhero films when characters get a medal just for being present. 

In any event, the Harley spin-off film is said to be a women-centric superhero flick bringing in a whole ton of DC Comics super women like Poison Ivy, Cat Woman, Black Canary, Batgirl, Huntress and the Birds of Prey.  It honestly sounds like a great idea and very similar to the Gotham Sirens comic DC was putting out for a time.  Ideally they’ll get a woman to direct and write as well, unlike WB’s Wonder Woman film which is being written by a bunch of dudes, but then again points of presence has been the watchword of diversity at DC while “money = success” is WB’s new philosophy so I guess we’ll see. 

I don’t think anybody expected the Flash to actually appear IN Suicide Squad but it was pretty cool to see him pop up in Captain Boomerang’s intro segment.  Granted, WB seems terrible at visualizing Flash’s powers and the new costume still looks far too dark and dopey, problems that are only exacerbated by the presence of CW’s excellent Flash show, but again: points for presence.  

However, the big question this appearance raises for Captain Boomerang is whether or not he’ll be back in 2018 for Flash’s solo film.  Like Deadshot and Killer Croc, Boomerang ended Suicide Squad back in jail but these guys are super criminals; escaping jail is what they do and Jai Courtney’s popularity in the role would certainly make him a neat fit for the Flash movie. 

Though I would absolutely love to see Boomerang in The Flash I kind of doubt he’ll show up.  At this point in Flash’s history evil speedsters have become the default villain choice for large-scale spectacle within the Flash mythos so the bad guy will probably be someone along those lines like Zoom or the Reverse Flash.  

Reverse Flash seems most likely given the film’s insistence that the Flash’s powers are based on manipulating time rather than just running really fast but we’ll see.  If Boomerang does show up as something more than an opening fight or reoccurring gag I’d expect him to be part of the Rogues, a union of local super villains who all fight the Flash and work together as professional thieves. 

Okay yes, El Diablo appeared to have died in Suicide Squad but given his popularity and the fact that this is superheroes I wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up again.  He’s another Suicide Squad character who earned the movie points for existing in that yeah, his origin story marks him as a pretty blatant stereotype and yet another chance for David Ayer to indulge his fetishistic obsession with gangbangers but the performance was good and hey, what other superhero movie has a prominent latinx character?  What’s more, stereotypes aren’t inherently wrong; most of the X-Men and Overwatch characters are stereotypes and we love them so if there was anyone from Suicide Squad’s “it’s awesome because they exist” crew I’d like to see more of it’d be El Diablo.

The reason I think we’d see him in Justice League Dark, assuming the supernatural themed superhero team movie is still happening, is that he’s now DC’s most prominent spooky magic character so it’d be a real mistake not to bring him in.  They don’t go much into it in the new movie but in the comics El Diablo is the name of a spirit of vengeance that just happened to embody in the man so they could bring back the spirit or just resurrect the character.  I mean, one of the JLD’s core members is a ghost named Dead Man so it’s not like Diablo would be the only guy on the team cheating death.  

Overall I could see Justice League Dark tying pretty closely to Suicide Squad as the team’s opening comic arc was about dealing with the fall out of Enchantress’ death and so far WB has been building their films on responding to the events of the previous movie rather than one long story arc.  What’s more, a supernaturally themed team movie would fit into WB’s set-up of “big team movie that spins out into solo adventures” a set-up that’s proved pretty successful so far based on the buzz around Wonder Woman and the box office take from Suicide Squad.

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