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Tag: comic-books

Editorials

Suicide Squad: Release The Ayer Cut?

November 9, 2020

2016’s Suicide Squad was one of the biggest disappointments of the year. It was a film I was very excited about as I enjoy the idea of the good guys being the bad guys. Sadly, it wasn’t a good film, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn being perhaps it’s best feature, which has lead to Robbie reprising the role for Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Director David Ayer though is now pushing for the film to be released the way he had originally intended – The Ayer Cut.

The Lost Forty Minutes

Zack Snyder's Justice League
The Snyder Cut (Credit: Warner Bros)

The Ayer Cut comes hot on the heels of the Snyder Cut of Justice League, the DC film originally directed by Zack Snyder who was replaced by Joss Whedon after a family tragedy for Snyder. Fans campaigned for a version they believed was closer to what Snyder had envisioned and were successful. Ayer now wants the same for Suicide Squad. Ayer has said forty minutes of his film was cut by the studio which would surely have an impact on any film. Studios insisting on their own edits of films is nothing new – sci-fi classic Blade Runner had voiceover added that completely changed central parts of the film, leading to a slew of other “cuts” that better represented what director Ridley Scott had in mind.

What was wrong with Suicide Squad?

Jared Leto as The Joker
Jared Leto as The Joker (Credit: Warner Bros)

Suicide Squad was unpopular with both critics and fans (but there are those who champion the film, or at least parts of it) and the film had many problems.

  • The Joker – while not a pivotal character in the film Jared Leto’s portrayal still managed to attract a lot of disdain with few people enjoying it. While I didn’t care for it I didn’t judge Leto or Ayer too harshly, following in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger’s legendary performances they needed to make a distinctive Joker – it didn’t work but at least they tried.
  • The Characters – When you have a large ensemble cast you run the risk of no character having enough time and this certainly felt true of Suicide Squad. The introduction of every character felt rushed and bare bones and I didn’t really care about any of the characters. There were characters like Katana who just seemed to be there – another person to fill out the cast without serving any purpose (despite having an interesting character premise).
  • The Villain -I am a firm believer in that the secret of success for many comic book films is the villain. The Dark Knight had Heath Ledger’s Joker, Black Panther had Michael B. Jordan’s Eric Killmonger, after a lacklustre villain in Red Skull having Robert Redford play Alexander Pierce in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a stroke of genius. Suicide Squad had a witch…or her brother, and her brother? The film was always going to be in a tricky place with a villain as the whole point is they’re the villains but undoubtedly the forgettable villain they had wasn’t good enough.

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad

Harley Quinn in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (geektyrant.com)

Of course, this battle is yet to be resolved on the horizon is the release of The Suicide Squad. How will The Ayer Cut effect this? I doubt it will at all. It seems most people have simply written off Suicide Squad as a mistake, the Ayer Cut is at most a chance to show there was a good film there. The success or failure of The Ayer Cut will not matter and I doubt would have any impact on the already inconsistent DCEU.

Will It Happen?

If the fans get behind the idea it probably will. The Snyder Cut really did show that fans have the power to get alternate cuts released and there’s no reason to give up that power. Whilst in this instance it’s being done under the impetus of the director, it’s important to remember that fans don’t always know best, for years there was a Kickstarter campaign to edit Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, specifically to digitally remove the rat that appears in the final scene. Whether or not you feel this was a bad decision by Scorsese I think you need to essentially trust a director on their decisions.

Before we all start clamouring for new cuts of films we feel could have been improved, remember Star Wars is a prime example of that sometimes it’s just better to leave things alone and that you can never please all of the fans.

Also Read: Flashpoint: The Defining Film of the DCEU


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Editorials

Marvel vs DC: The Bitter Divide

November 8, 2018

I recently rewatched Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy and I consider this to be the high watermark of superhero films. My opinion is The Dark Knight is the best of the trilogy by a clear margin which I know is hardly controversial. The car chase scene of the Joker trying to get to Harvey Dent might be the best action scene in all of cinema. Batman Begins is the first superhero film where they really explained the origins of a superhero in a satisfying way. The Dark Knight Rises had an almost impossible job following The Dark Knight but is still an amazing film and added Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to a superhero franchise.

The Dark Knight (IMDb)

 

Divided Society

 

This leads me to what may be the most important and bitter divide in society today: Marvel Vs DC. On average Marvel films are better but the high point is Nolan’s work (which technically doesn’t belong to DC’s Extended Universe). It is certainly true that each has their own style. Marvel adopting a more fun and light-hearted take whereas just about every review of DC films uses the words “gritty” and “dark”.

Both have competed in making their own universes – Avengers: Infinity War has around thirty characters that could be called “superheroes” and just trying to keep track of them makes me dizzy. Again, of the two I think Marvel has been more successful in managing their own universe. The DC Justice League films have been widely panned by critics so much so that conspiracy theories exist that critics are all on Disney’s payroll. Rotten Tomatoes critic score for the first Avengers film is 92% compared to Justice League’s dire 40%. Personally, I not a big fan of interconnected universes as I think it becomes very convoluted and the weight of all the characters and storylines is crushing but admittedly seeing all the characters together can be really fun.

 

Successes

 

DC’s big success has been Wonder Woman; a film so good that I put aside my vendetta against Chris Pine. Gal Gadot is sensational as Diana who took one of the least plausible superhero origins and made the film work. Wonder Woman was not just good as a superhero film but dealt with the tragedy of the First World War surprisingly well (even touching on a character dealing with PTSD), the horror of war, even the inevitability of humankind’s own destructive tendencies. These are big things for any film to deal with. Diana’s charge across No Man’s Lead was an unforgettable scene and I cannot praise it enough.

Wonder Woman (IMDb)

Marvel’s high point for me is probably Guardians of the Galaxy Vol I. My knowledge of comic-books is not very deep and I had never heard of this before the film and I remember watching the trailer for the first time thinking “this is going to be a disaster”. It has a talking racoon. And a talking tree. And a professional wrestler playing one of the main parts. I thought not even Chris Pratt’s innate and irresistible likeability could save it. And what happened? Rocket and Groot are amazing characters and despite a limited vocabulary, Groot is surprisingly emotional. Dave Batista, the professional wrestler, was hilarious. I think Guardians of the Galaxy’s strength was in its emotional side, Peter/Star Lord has an amazing journey from scared child to well…a guardian of the galaxy. Perhaps this gives away my age but how can you not be charmed by a film that centres around lovingly put together mixtape?

Guardians of the Galaxy (IMDb)

Failures

 

So, those are the high-points, what are the disasters? Personally, I don’t think Marvel has really made a bad film, not all of them are great but all the ones I’ve seen I’ve enjoyed. The same cannot be said for DC. Man of Steel is that most frustrating of films in that parts of it are great but it ended in the obligatory but increasingly dull city smashing. Batman Vs Superman failed completely despite using whole sections from the fantastic graphic novel and animated film The Dark Knight Returns (which if you want to see a proper fight between Superman and Batman watch this).

But the award surely goes to the Suicide Squad. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was the film’s only redeeming feature but even then DC did not get a good handle on the admittedly very problematic Harley Quinn-Joker relationship. What every superhero film needs is a good villain, it’s perhaps more important than a good hero. I can’t tell you the name of the villain in Suicide Squad or even what they were trying to achieve or what they wanted. Captain America: The First Avenger is one of the poorer Marvel films but I remember Red Skull and what he was trying to do. Why is The Dark Knight so great? A huge part of that is Heath Ledger’s performance.

Suicide Squad (IMDb)

 

So In Conclusion…

 

Overall I think I have divided loyalties between DC and Marvel but I know what both could do better. First, too many films come down to the bad guy wants to destroy the whole world, so obviously they’re bad and anyone fighting them is good. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a great film in part because it was actually about something – order versus freedom, there were discussions about how far you can go to protect people and the bad guys could put their case forward. Secondly, the tone of the film should match the character and not the branding of the whole universe. The TV show Daredevil is one of the very few dark Marvel properties and benefits from that enormously; DC should be able to make fun films and Marvel can make dark films. Marvel next has the very promising looking “dark” and “gritty” Captain Marvel and DC has the very light-hearted Shazam so maybe they have already taken my advice.