Suicide squad turned 6 years old today. Released in early August 2016 (the 4th in Brazil and the 5th in the US on a big circuit), the film was the promise of a true pop cultural phenomenon. And in part it was. But not in the expected way. It’s safe to say that nobody, not the fans, nor those involved with the project expected the backlash (the famous backfire) that the production would suffer after its release – primarily due to the incisive bad reviews from the biggest and most prestigious specialist outlets, which destroyed the film, for lack of a better word.
See what a disparity: while the recent The Suicide Squad (by James Gunn) garnered copies 96% approval, its predecessor, using the same material at hand, had a paltry 26% approvals with the same press five years earlier. What we can see from this is not the superiority or genius of one filmmaker over another, but the learning of a major studio like Warner in terms of interfering with an artist’s vision for his work. Six years passed and the same Warner gave in to the pressure of the fans for a Snydercut, the version planned by Zack Snyder for your Justice League. And the company also seems to have given full freedom to the director James Gunnwho also signs the script, so that he could deliver the film he planned.
It must be borne in mind that six years ago, Warner was desperate to set up a cinematic universe along the lines of what Marvel had been doing. Thus, all DC films in the period would be stigmatized as schizophrenic productions more concerned with weaving connections between their films than creating a coherent work with a beginning, middle and end. The pressure built into filmmakers was such that they often had their films “hijacked” by executives, with professionals hastily called in – and not involved with the film’s production – to give their opinion and re-edit such works. It was the case with Suicide squad (2016), which had its final version edited by the company Trailer Park, Inc., responsible for editing the movie trailer – the one with the music of the queen which was very successful and aroused everyone’s immediate interest in the product.
The world is an unfair place, and in the world of cinema competition is visceral. Promises and dreams can be instantly torn apart. An artist’s career, today with the advent of media at every viewer’s finger tip, can go down the drain with just one slip. It’s devastating to think about the time and dedication that professionals apply to a particular work and when the result comes, if it doesn’t please you have to find someone to blame. David Ayer was the director of Suicide squad (2016), then an established filmmaker, having worked as a screenwriter (Fast and furious / Training Day) and in the direction (Marked to die / Iron hearts).
The new The Suicide Squad (2021) benefited in part from the restrained hype in relation to the feature, which by no means compares to what was achieved with the film by ayer in 2016. Six years ago, nothing of the kind had been done before, with the film then being the first to focus on villains as protagonists rather than heroes. That trailer containing the song by queen generated more views, for example, than both of what was the biggest movie in the house for that year: Batman v Supermanreleased in March 2016. In fact, one of the promises about Suicide squad is that I would do for DC’s secondary characters what Guardians of the Galaxy had done for Marvel two years earlier. That is, turn them into pop icons. And there is a coincidental connection with James Gunn.
It is also necessary to take into account that Suicide squad followed the reception more than lukewarm than the aforementioned Batman vs. Super man had received from the specialized media (with 28% approval). Even so, just a look at the movie trailer of ayer for everyone to gain a lot of confidence in the film. There isn’t a single person who hasn’t been “fooled” by the coolest preview in recent years. The problem was that after we watched the movie, we realized that the trailer was more interesting and better. The hype, however, had been generated much earlier, with the reveal of the cast, with the dissemination of images of the actors featured as their characters. Suicide squad featured one of the best groups of actors in recent years, the kind that we can’t believe have managed to bring together so many good people in a single project.
In particular, four names drew a lot of attention in front of the cameras. Will Smith, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, entered the so-called “superhero movies” for the first time, accepting a role that was a far cry from characters like Batman, Superman or any other famous hooded figure. In the film he was the bad guy Gunslinger, villain B from the publisher’s gallery. His participation demonstrated the actor’s confidence in the project and in a dynamic assemble (term used for when we don’t have just one protagonist within the story). On Smith’s tail came Margot Robbiea young Australian actress who had been revealed as a hurricane in the wolf of Wall Street (2013) and here I repeated the double with Smith de double blow (2015). Robbie won the role of his career as Harley Quinn.
Viola Davis at that time, she was already being considered a great interpreter of pure representation. She was nominated for an Oscar for Crossed Stories (2011), on TV was celebrated in the series How to Get Away With Murder (2014-2020) and in the same year he would win the Oscar for A Boundary Between Us. Davis was the perfect choice for the cold and calculating Amanda Waller, head of a secret government agency. Closing the main quartet, the eccentric Jared Leto had taken a break from his acting career until he returned for his Oscar win in Dallas Buyers Club (2013). His performance and his victory in the aforementioned film led him to the role of the psychopath Joker, one of the biggest villains in pop culture. From the aforementioned movie to Suicide squad it was another three years for the actor.
Some characterizations hit the mark, such as that of Robbie and Davisothers have become dubious and controversial choices, such as Leto. In any case, there was an incredible effort from all the actors involved. Everyone gave themselves to the roles, learning fights, exercising, challenging themselves, learning to use weapons, combat techniques. Robbie learned to walk on the trapeze and circus techniques. Smith dedicated himself with royal marines. There were months of studies in the most varied areas on the part of all the actors. Dear Delevingne, for example, hired for the role of the sorceress Magia without there being a script yet, was recommended by the director to walk naked in the moonlight and feel the mud on her bare feet – as a way of preparing for the character. Something that the model and actress took to the letter.
Margot Robbie learned the art of tattooing, as her character has her body covered by the designs on her skin. The cast became so united that a strong friendship emerged between them, the photos released and everything that surrounded the production made a point of emphasizing this atmosphere of camaraderie, as it had not been seen in a production of this size for a long time. It was everyone’s way of attesting to genuine involvement beyond their paycheck at the end of work. The connection was so strong, with the cast believing in the project so much, that they all got tattoos (mostly done by Robbie) on their bodies with the words “SKWAD”, a slang term for the English word Esquadrão. Of course, the most controversial reports came from the actor of the Leto who, among other things, embodied the Joker persona, just wanted to be called by the character and sent gifts beyond bizarre (like mice) to his co-stars.
The pressure in relation to the project already happened before its launch, with Margot Robbie admitting to having received death threats for having accepted the role, coming from hallucinated “fans” and having realized from there the dimension of the project in which he was involved. With the release of the film, the pressure was different, more real and substantial. David Ayer he wrote a few times openly on his networks and to the media about the disappointment of having dedicated himself so much and his work not being liked. ayer he also said that he would do many things differently if he could have another chance – much of his film was cut and the construction of the characters (a significant number on screen) ended up compromised by the cuts, with many shots not used in the final product. being the joker of Leto one of those who suffered the most in the version that went to cinemas.
Suicide squad (2016) cost Warner’s coffers $175 million and recouped nearly all of it in its North American opening weekend, with $133 million in cash. It took US$325 million at the box office in its territory and US$746 million in total worldwide – which ensured the film a financial success. Add to that an Oscar win (in the makeup category), making the feature the fourth film in the subgenre to hold such an honor. It is still a very curious fact. Suicide squad be the most successful “hated” film of recent years. The “failure”, however, did not go unnoticed by the same executives who tried to ayer from the project gotham mermaidsyour next step within this universe.
In addition to ayerone of those who felt the blow the most was the star Will Smithwho tried to stay away from the continuation of Gunn (and must be sorry now). Between the dead and the wounded, Margot Robbie it was the most profitable in history (that is, disregarding death threats). Harley Quinn turned her into an international star at age 25. The character (and Robbie) won a solo movie last year (Birds of prey) and again was a decoy in The Suicide Squad (2021), in addition to having become the pop phenomenon that Suicide squad (2016) planned to be. All the attention in the film went to the character and the actress, ensuring extreme popularity in the most varied media. Today, even those who haven’t watched the movie know about Harlequin.
Already David Ayer, six years on and the dust having settled, starts talking about his version of the movie, wanting to go the way of the Snydercut. Now with the property in the hands of another filmmaker, it may be that the studio considers that this “boat has sailed”. That is, unless fans started moving in that direction.