James Gunn's Suicide Squad Reboot: DC's Secret Weapon?
James Gunn has left behind Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy for DC's Suicide Squad. But even with director David Ayer giving Gunn his blessing for Suicide Squad 2, fans of the original are worried that DC intends to scrap a direct sequel and reboot the Squad. But trust us: that's the right move to make if the movie is going to stay true to the comics.
To be clear, we're not saying James Gunn's "new take" on Suicide Squad should pretend that the first movie never happened. From a business sense, scrapping the movie franchise that earned the DCEU its first Oscar and almost as much money as Guardians of the Galaxy makes no sense at all (but that might not stop WB). But if the movie is going to follow the same path as the comic book, Suicide Squad 2 shouldn't have been a direct sequel anyway.
With James Gunn bringing a new perspective, even a new team to Suicide Squad 2, the property could finally become DC's secret weapon in their war against the genre-defining Marvel movie universe.
- This Page: Suicide Squad 2 Shouldn't Follow Marvel's Formula
- Page 2: Suicide Squad Can Do The One Thing Marvel Can't
Suicide Squad's Story Already Got Its Ending
Understanding fans' desire to see the Squad back in action is easy: with a cast anchored by Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, and more, DC was hoping the star power would sell interest in a sequel (and another, and another). But the main reason why a direct sequel picking up immediately after, or close to the ending of the first Suicide Squad would be a problem is that... their story hasn't really changed. David Ayer wasn't trying to launch an epic story - he was showing criminals proving they weren't "pieces of sh*t" and saving the world. Before returning to their prison cells with a small reward, and waiting for the next mission.
Deadshot atoned for being arrested in front of his daughter, and proving to her that he is a good man, in his own way. Ever other villain got some kind of redemption arc along the way, but not in a way that made them "heroes" somehow lifted out of their sentences. There was no greater threat revealed on the horizon, or some energized, inciting incident where a sequel would presumably pick up. The Squad exist to be caught and used - and the movie tells that story.
Those teases or dangling threads would all be expected in the kind of franchise filmmaking that Marvel has made the prevailing 'way of doing things,' sure. But there is no comic book franchise that makes more sense getting a fresh start from someone like James Gunn than the Suicide Squad.
Suicide Squad Shouldn't Follow Marvel's Formula
Seeing things as not following Marvel's lead is easier said than done, but is necessary to grasp the value and appeal of Suicide Squad in both comics and film. With extended franchises of sequels and long-term, serialized superhero arcs, a reboot means erasing the story being told, and what it was setting up next. But with the Squad - a group of random criminals gathered together for a deadly mission - those things need not be considered. A larger mythology or continuity? What continuity? They're prisoners working for the government in an endless parade of suicide missions. What more is there to tell?
As the clear leads of the previous movie, DC instructing Gunn to carry Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and Will Smith's Deadshot over to the new mission would make sense. But beyond that the premise of the franchise means an effective "reboot" with each new mission, and each new team. Put that creative control and the addition of new characters in the hands of the man who introduced the Guardians of the Galaxy to the MCU, and DC will more than prove that Marvel made a mistake in letting James Gunn go.
Handle the next iteration of the Suicide Squad and Waller's next assignment just right, and DC's most surprising hit becomes a secret weapon Marvel Studios can't HOPE to match.
Page 2 of 2: Suicide Squad Can Do The One Thing Marvel Can't
The Squad Concept is The Star, Not Cast or Characters
The truth of Suicide Squad is that it's an idea sold on its premise alone: the deadliest of the deadliest are captured, incarcerated, and forced to do Amanda Waller's bidding. If they ever hope of seeing freedom again, they'll play along with the suicide missions they're given... and let loose to return to their shooting, maiming, killing, or antiheroic ways. Even without knowing who is going to be ON the Squad itself, the subversive and un-heroic pitch has superhero or comic book fans intrigued.
That's how it works in the comics, which have one major benefit that movie audiences don't: fans still get to see these characters in countless other books, with no explicit beginning or ending to their individual stories. So it goes without saying that members like Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and even Captain Boomerang will wash in and wash out after individual story arcs. The typical questions posed to cast changes or character departures - Why did they leave? Where did they go? What will they do next? - aren't even asked, since the answer is obvious. They left by escaping or being let loose back into the larger DC Universe, and will show up before too long elsewhere.
It can't be overstated enough: reports that Deadshot could appear in another movie, or that Harley Quinn is leaving for Birds of Prey are NOT a sign of DC's movie franchises in disarray. It's a sign that Suicide Squad is working exactly as it was designed to, and if handled right, could become DC's secret weapon.
DC's Suicide Squad Can Be Everything Marvel Isn't
In just a few short years, Marvel's "shocking" way of building a shared universe became the norm, the formula, the one way that makes sense to audiences, fans, bloggers, critics, and even studio executives (just ask Zack Snyder how ignoring the Marvel formula worked out). But as Marvel's cinematic universe has been framed, filled in, reinforced, and now raised one film or phase at a time, that structure and rigidity comes with a price. Simply put, no single role, cameo, or casting can be made lightly. And Marvel can take years, even an entire decade to address the loudest fan demands since they're following a multi-franchise, interconnected, multi-billion-dollar roadmap.
But the Suicide Squad? Warner Bros. and James Gunn have an entire universe of DC criminals, killers, and convicts to choose from, with an audience that understands they shouldn't look too far into the future. Not with a bomb planted in every villain (and every A-list star's) skull putting their DC future in jeopardy. The bigger the name and the bigger the villain, the greater the chances they will stick around for a potential sequel, sure. But that's a decision that gets to be made after their 'audition' on the Squad, where they're free to bounce off of established fan-favorites while demonstrating their powers and personality (a strength Gunn showed with the first Guardians).
No pressure on DC to construct some larger, agreed-upon, studio-wide plan for each character's future. Ideally that would place more creative power in the filmmakers hands, where it should be, looking to the Squad for potential villains or allies for other films. You want them? You can have them. It's proof that DC hit a home run introducing a new character to their universe - and that's another spot on the team to fill in Suicide Squad 3.
The potential is there to make the next Suicide Squad more than a sequel, more than a reboot... now DC and James Gunn just have to see it, too.