The late, groundbreaking producer Julia Philips referenced the following saying in her book You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again: 'If you can't be the best, be first'. By this logic, the cinematic smack-down between Captain America: Civil War and Suicide Squad is already over. Why? Well, Civil War comes out May 6 and Suicide Squad drops August 5.
To that end, considering that the films come out three months apart, this really isn't a fair fight. We'll only know which film did better by the box office receipts that are tallied. At present, word of mouth on Captain America: Civil War is quite good. Suicide Squad has had decent word of mouth, but it seems that there are many things working against it.
First of all, it is has to live up to Heath Ledger's Joker. People can say what they want, heck, Jared Leto can deny it, but that character portrayal is looming larger over this film than Batman over Gotham. Secondly, the overall feel of the movie (from the trailers) seems to whimsically be bordering on the sadistic. Superhero movies aren't ever this dark, right? Can they be this dark? Thirdly, do many casual comic book/superhero fans even know about the Suicide Squad?
The Avengers have a built in fan base. It has been constructed ever since it first hit comic book store shelves in the 1960s. Suicide Squad actually debuted in comic book form in 1959. However, would somebody who just watches Superhero movies (and doesn't delve into the lore of the comic books) know this? On paper it seems that Captain America: Civil War is lock to take the box office title. But...Will it be a better film?
There is this idea that good movies make money and bad movies don't. Anybody that had a lick of sense about the film business knows that this isn't true for a second. Hey, Avatar made billions but is there any argument that The Hurt Locker was the better movie? So, while Captain America and his cohorts have the advantage of essentially being in another Avengers film (cue the critics to start splitting superhero hairs), the reality is that Suicide Squad can probably break new ground. It is with this in mind that you are invited to discover 9 Reasons Suicide Squad Will Be Better Than Captain America: Civil War.
Suicide Squad Has an Oscar Winner
Sure, the Avengers have solid thespians in their mix (Robert Downey, Jr., Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, etc.), but none of them have won Academy Awards. Suicide Squad not only has an actor in Jared Leto who has won the big dance BUT it has other actors who also bolster its credibility. The thing about Jared Leto, love him or hate him, is that we know he can act. The Joker is a highly complex role. There's a reason why it took an actor with the gravitas of Heath Ledger to reinvent him from Jack Nicholson. With Leto in the role something tells us we as viewers will be brought to a whole new dimension. And if the on-set reports of Leto's odd behavior are to be believed, Marvel might want to take a crazy cue from this potential franchise in the future.
Best Ensemble in a First Time Superhero Movie
Casting Margot Robbie in the role of Harley Quinn (hot off her dazzling performance in The Wolf of Wall Street) immediately gave this film an X-factor. Sure, she may not be the biggest actress, but to go from Martin Scorsese to a down and dirty comic book vehicle (when Scorsese practically invented cinematic "down and dirty") says a lot about her. Add to the fact that Ben Affleck is also in this film and you easily have one of the most bankable movies in Hollywood. Now, if you're a producer, you're already sitting pretty but then add the one man juggernaut that is Will Smith. He alone makes any film he's in high profile. So one already has very solid actors based on a strong property by one of the best directors in the game. Sorry, Russo Bros., you guys are great but Suicide Squad clearly has the talent edge here.
The Death Factor
As this is a David Ayer (End of Watch, Harsh Times) movie, one thing is undoubtedly certain, somebody is going to die. With Suicide Squad, half the fun is that we don't know who that is going to be. Will it be Deadshot (Will Smith), The Joker (Jared Leto), Slipknot (Adam Beach)? The very title of this film reeks with the notion that shuffling the mortal coil is almost mandatory. Now, in Captain America: Civil War, we know that the grim reaper is going to rear their ugly head. However, Marvel practically telegraphs this fact. It is almost as if they don't trust viewers to be able to handle this process. In that regard, the fact that in Suicide Squad, anything can and may happen makes for much more of a "What the hell is going on?" viewing experience.
The Dirty Factor
In both it's look and subject matter Suicide Squad seems to be in a class by itself. It is almost is if David Ayer grabbed Arthur Max, the set designer on the movie Seven and just allowed him to go to town. Take one look at the trailer and all you see is urban decay, grime and a bleakness that makes any hint of optimism seem especially foreboding. Now, add to that the subject matter, super villains doing bad in order to ultimately do good, and it stands to reason that we're going to both see and hear some pretty vile things. Sure, Deadpool was a dirty movie in some ways, but the whimsical, almost "Johnny Depp when he first played Jack Sparrow performance" by Ryan Reynolds was both tongue and cheek and seemed ultimately in good fun. Captain America: Civil War will certainly have more nuance than all of the other Marvel films combined. There's just too many characters, plots, subplots and sidebars for it not to. That is practically built into it by design. However, this doesn't make it dirty. Suicide Squad might have a lot of fun but there's nothing cute or clean about it.
David Ayer Plays for Keeps
Take a glance at David Ayer's writing and directing career and it's clear that he's fairly tightly wound. From writing Training Day, to directing Harsh Times, then End of Watch and now Suicide Squad, it is apparent that Ayer is a director following his bliss. He is pushing this filmmaker thing to the limit. His movies and scripts are high octane blasts from a solid director surrounded by strongly composed action and dialogue scenes. He seems just as cozy making this movie as he might be directing a film about the LA underbelly. It's all the same to him. The Russo Bros. have directed more films and they've done a lot in the realm of TV. They bring a humanity to these superhero characters that were not there before. There is nothing wrong with this. However, The Captain America films feel like career moves for them. David Ayer on the other hand, after inhabiting the worlds he has put on screen, seems effortlessly comfortable in the milieu of Suicide Squad. This will surely be apparent on screen and it will provide further positive contrast between this film and Civil War.
More Interesting Characters
This is not a dig on Captain America: Civil War. The fact that Captain America and Iron Man are against one another is quite intriguing. That this divides the Marvel universe is even more colorful. Hawkeye, Falcon and others back the Captain. Iron Man's posse includes Natasha, Vision and Spider-Man just to name a few. Heck, having a character named Captain America go against America and the world is brilliant for this franchise. However, all this intrigue, all of these characters, pale in comparison to the many layers of just The Joker. That might be a hard pill to swallow but when you throw in characters like Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Killer Croc, suddenly the idea of the anti-hero never seemed so apparent and appealing.
The Implications on the DC and Marvel Universes
If Suicide Squad pulls off what we think it can, the implications for the other DC projects will be quite stunning. Imagine where they might take Ben Affleck's standalone Batman film? To what depths might they be able to submerge all the characters in that world? Once you get the ball rolling the possibilities are endless. Imagine a much more nuanced Flash? Could Aquaman be an art film? One that shows the world how precious a resource like water truly is? Movies are a global business. Their reach is essentially infinite. Should some of this rub of on Marvel, we as viewers will be the ones to benefit. Where might the Avengers: Infinity War films go? How might the new crop of Avengers be forced to look inward? Suicide Squad is text, subtext and vitriolic filmmaking all married to provide an unforgettable and potentially groundbreaking 120 plus minutes of celluloid.
The Implications for a Suicide Squad sequel
Apparently Warner Bros. is so high on this film that they have already started working on another one. It also seems like Warner Bros. liked how things went so much that David Ayer and Will Smith are going to be brought back. So...This leaves us to speculate who didn't make it through the first film? What direction might a sequel go if David Ayer is not only allowed to expand the Suicide Squad world, but turn it upside down? At present we have the general idea of what this story is about. It's based on a comic so, by proxy, one could just grab that and figure it out. However, Ayer doesn't seem like he cares about being faithful to anyone or anything. As a result, we have a major superhero property that could potentially call all that has come before it (this includes Marvel AND DC movies) on the proverbial carpet.
Warner Bros. Ain't Disney
From Dirty Harry to A Clockwork Orange to Natural Born Killers, Warner Bros. knows controversy. With films that have wholeheartedly embraced the violent tendencies of society, they understand how to give people an out of this world viewing experience and potentially damage their bottom line at the same time. Disney, for all its subsidiaries that it uses for for it's more "edgier" fare, has, in recent memory, really only dealt with controversy when the Weinstein Bros. were running Miramax. Disney movies, as the Marvel films attest, are McMovies. They are made with fast food tie-ins, toys, and all manner of crossovers in mind. (Star Wars tangerines anyone?) There is nothing wrong with this. Filmmaking, as we said before, is a business. However, Warner Bros. has always been a bit ahead of the curve. With Suicide Squad, it might not make as much coin as Captain America: Civil War, but it just possibly might be the better film regardless of it playing second fiddle on the release schedule.
Can Suicide Squad go where no other superhero movies have gone before? Will it derail the Civil War train or will it come out with a bang and then fade away? We only have a few more months to wait and find out.