When it comes to adapting superhero universes for the big screen, Marvel and DC have been like the tortoise and the hare: DC sprinted off in front with the Christopher Reeves Superman movies, the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman movies, and the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy–while Marvel spent the ’80s and ’90s developing Howard the Duck and a Punisher movie that was too ashamed of its comic book origins to let the guy have a skull on his chest. But as Marvel properties were dropped into world-beating franchise after world-beating franchise from Blade to Spider-Man to the X-Men to the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy in an astonishing 18-year run, the question surrounding the DC heroes has long been: Can they make a movie that anyone wants to see that isn’t about Batman or Superman?
While DC and parent company Warner Bros have put a whole lot of eggs in the Batman/Superman basket in March’s grim, no-fun looking Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the character posters and first teaser for Suicide Squad–released late on Tuesday–reveal something totally different: Namely, a really fun, funny, and exciting preview of a movie that should be a blast to watch.
The trailer follows the basic template that Marvel used to perfection with Guardians of the Galaxy–a recipe that includes ’70s rock, the introduction of a band of misfits that audiences are unlikely to have much familiarity with, one guy who’s at least 50% animal, and a whole bunch of sarcasm–but the concept behind Suicide Squad couldn’t be more different. Here, the conceit is that a group of super-criminals are recruited by a shadowy government agency to go on missions that people with more options and more prone to good choices would never undertake. With a cast that draws on star power–Will Smith plays his first villain as Deadshot, while Margot Robie and Jared Leto star as Harley Quinn and the Joker–and a well-placed sense of humor about all of the super-powered mayhem that’s about to take place, Suicide Squad looks like some gleeful mayhem. (Even Leto’s Joker, who looks like his Hot Topic charge card is just about maxed out, seems to be having more fun than anybody to wear the white pancake makeup since Cesar Romero refused to shave his mustache.) In a summer that’s likely to be overwhelmed by Batmen fighting Supermen, Captains America fighting Iron Men, and X-Men fighting Apocalypses, a bunch of bad guys having fun fighting worse guys might be just the subversive superhero hit that we need.