Chris Connor on The Suicide Squad and the future of the DCEU…
The DC Extended Universe’s journey has been anything but straightforward, with a critical backlash to 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad and 2017’s Justice League leaving the future of the fledgling cinematic universe uncertain. Since 2018 however there appears to have been a course correction of sorts with a far more positive reception for the likes of Aquaman, Shazam and Birds of Prey (although these too are certainly without their detractors).
The latest entry in the series, The Suicide Squad has so far earned far and away the best reviews of any film in the series, while sporting lighter and more satirical tone than many other entries to date. The tone and style of The Suicide Squad being so different to other DC properties really helps to mark it apart from both the 2016 original and the rest of the DCEU, so could James Gunn’s film offer a template for how the franchise can move forward?
It seems that Gunn’s claims of a lack of studio interference ring true and he has been allowed to fully assert his vision as to what form these characters should take shape on screen, with the more adult tone and humour shining through. Gunn’s frenetic and tongue in cheek style ,which he has employed to such brilliant effect on the Guardians of the Galaxy films, has won him high plaudits for The Suicide Squad. It is encouraging that Gunn is being allowed to pursue further projects with both studios, returning to Marvel for the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in 2022 and the long awaited Vol. 3 in 2023. He is also working on a Peacemaker spin off series for HBO Max and has discussed his interest in further Suicide Squad based projects.
Perhaps the biggest thing the DC universe has working in its favour at this present moment is the willingness to embrace the riskier and less well known parts of its catalogue. The success of Aquaman, which is remarkably the highest grossing entry in the series, is perhaps an indicator that not every DC film has to be gloomy or existential with room for some out there visuals and tonal touches. Matt Reeves’ self-contained The Batman has whet many appetites and the franchise’s slate over the coming years does seem to be moving in a more diverse and intriguing direction, a far cry from the initial failings of the DCEU. Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods show a far more bold approach to their characters and push the universe in new directions while The Flash if true to its source material could prove a way to open DC’s own multiverse with multiple Batmen in the shape of Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck in tow.
The Suicide Squad continues the DCEU’s renaissance and offers hope that other directors are given similar degrees of creative control over their projects. It is a shame that some of the more intriguing projects like New Gods and The Trench have been shelved or indefinitely postponed but projects like Batgirl and Superman offer an exciting glimpse at what a more diverse DC universe might look like and offer some intriguing story possibilities.
The future of the DCEU seems considerably brighter than it had been two-to-three years ago and with the overwhelming early acclaim for The Suicide Squad the bolder, R-rated approach adopted by James Gunn has paid off. While the universe perhaps lacks the cohesive nature of the MCU, it is certainly heading in the right direction with anticipation high for a number of upcoming projects including The Flash, Shazam: Fury of the Gods and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
What are your thoughts on The Suicide Squad, and the future of the DCEU? Let us know on our social channels @FlickeringMyth…
Welcome to hell—a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst Super-Villains are kept and where they will do anything to get out—even join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X. Today’s do-or-die assignment? Assemble a collection of cons, including Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and everyone’s favorite psycho, Harley Quinn. Then arm them heavily and drop them (literally) on the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Trekking through a jungle teeming with militant adversaries and guerrilla forces at every turn, the Squad is on a search-and-destroy mission with only Colonel Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave…and Amanda Waller’s government techies in their ears, tracking their every movement. And as always, one wrong move and they’re dead (whether at the hands of their opponents, a teammate, or Waller herself). If anyone’s laying down bets, the smart money is against them—all of them.
The Suicide Squad sees James Gunn directing a cast that includes Suicide Squad returnees Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang), Joel Kinnaman (Rick Flag) and Viola Davis (Amanda Waller) as well as new DCEU additions Idris Elba, Peter Capaldi, Alice Braga, Nathan Fillion, Taika Waititi, Jennifer Holland, David Dastmalchian, Joaquín Cosío, Mayling Ng, Flula Borg, Juan Diego Botto, Storm Reid, John Cena, Pete Davidson, Tinashe Kajese, Daniela Melchior, Julio Ruiz, Steve Agee, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, and Sylvester Stallone.