Credit: Warner Bros.
Suicide Squad is undoubtedly intended to be fun. And after the three hours of misery that was Batman v Superman, it's probably just what Warner Bros and DC needed.
Director David Ayer is a film maker with a pretty decent back catalogue behind him, including Fury and End of Watch - so it made sense for him to tell the tale of some of DC's biggest hitting villains.
Credit: Warner Bros.
But in doing so, he's made them the centre point of the film and instead portrayed them as anti-heroes rather than what they are meant to be - murdering, psychopathic villains.
'Remember, we're the bad guys' Will Smith's Deadshot says in just about every trailer - but you won't. And that's definitely no bad thing. If you went through the whole movie viewing Harley Quinn, Killer Croc etc. as actual antagonists, it would make for a much bleaker movie experience, and that's the last thing we need from DC - more gloom.
But the choice to humanise the usual bad guy is something of a trend right now, both on and off the big screen.
An obvious place to look is HBO's Game of Thrones. For the first two and a bit seasons, Jaime Lannister moved from being child-crippling utter shitbag scum to one of the characters you pray the Gods of the Seven will be kind to. The same can also perhaps be said of Theon's story arc that saw him try to take Winterfell and in doing so cut all his ties with the Starks. This was swiftly followed by him getting his nob chopped off but after a year and a bit of continuous torture he's now a character who's trying to do good.
Even Breaking Bad spent five years transforming a doddering family man into Tony Montana, yet it still made us ask ourselves: 'Do we really want to see Walter White get what he deserves?' Only you can answer that. But ultimately it begs the question - did we just get bored of the 'archetypal villain?' The guy who's an arsehole for the sake of just fucking up things for the hero and adding a sense of peril to a movie.
It certainly looks that way. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a place that's certainly not short of monsters and beings that have an appetite for destruction, yet the Avengers still spend half their time squabbling amongst themselves. Last year's titular villain from Age of Ultron felt like little more than a vehicle to push the plot along, compared to say Tom Hiddleston's twisted Loki who has an uncertainty to his demeanour that keeps interest piquing as you question if he's so angry at things just because maybe he wants a hug.
But it's a fine line you tread: if you humanise your villain too much you lose their purpose completely. Kylo Ren's story from The Force Awakens went from complete mystery and overwhelming power (him stopping Poe's bolt shot dead in mid-air is still a stand out point), to having an emo parody account dedicated to him in just 120 minutes.
The complete flip-side to this is Heath Ledger's Joker. Of course, the truly tragic circumstances that surrounded the role were always going to launch The Dark Knight further into the spotlight but the real lure lies in just how unpredictable he was. Whenever he's pressed on his scars, he spins a different story. We never know what he's going to do except that he's not going to kill Batman and instead just toy with him like a cat with a frog. Outside of that, everything is an unknown and that leaves you with a feeling of deep unease.
It's probably safe to say Leto's Joker won't be written so perfectly, but it doesn't look like that is the aim with Suicide Squad. It's pointless trying to recreate what Ledger or Jack Nicholson did - all Leto can do is try to make his incarnation of the Joker as memorable as possible.
Leto's Joker will no doubt have different complexities to Ledger's. Credit: Warner Bros.
As for the rest of the cast, it's looking like it's not their job for us to hate them but instead all we can do is hope they entertain us. And if David Ayer and his ensemble achieve that, well then they're doing a hell of a lot better than Snyder and co did with BvS.
UPDATE: Judging by early reviews, he hasn't done much better.
Words Matthew Cooper