Earlier in the year, DC experienced its first major flop with Batman v Superman. While it didn’t quite bomb at the box office, it also didn’t do as well as it should have, after savaged by critics and fans alike. It’s generally regarded as an incoherent mess that is far less exciting than a superhero flick should be. And in its wake, DC’s next big screen title has even more to prove. Namely, the question of whether DC’s movies can be any fun.
In this quest, Suicide Squad should look outside of the DC and Marvel box. As its main point of comparison, it shouldn’t even look at its cousin Batman v Superman. It should look at its quirky neighbor, the one who moved away a couple years ago: Kick-Ass.
Suicide Squad is clearly trying to nail a tone that’s simultaneously gritty and playful; flashy and profane. We know this because the trailer featured the sonic embodiment of those qualities — Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
That is not a tune you set your teaser to by happenstance, or just because you can’t think of another song. It’s one you buy the rights to and use when you want to send a message: this is edgy, wacky, and fun. We also know it because its color palate is dark and moody like Zack Snyder’s work, but its costumes are colorful and its rendition of the Joker looks like a guy who took a wrong turn on his way to the Gathering of the Juggalos.
Now, gritty-funny-playful-dark superhero fair is an incredibly tough tone to nail. Those qualities aren’t exactly made to go together. But the 2010 film Kick Ass did it and made it look easy.
Kick-Ass is an incredibly underrated movie. It made less than $100 million at the box office, which is far below Marvel and DC’s usual fare, but it makes up for it in creativity and sheer balls. Unsurprisingly, the director is the same guy responsible for the equally surprising and audacious movie Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Kick-Ass is dark and violent for a comedy, but it also never takes itself too seriously the way Snyder’s work does. It embraces the absurdity of its own premise and runs with it.
It’s also got an unlikely psychopathic heroine who wears pigtails — Hit-Girl is basically Harley Quinn as a kid. Plus, everyone hates Jai Courtney but it’s looking like he’s going to be surprisingly awesome as Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad. Similarly, Kick-Ass was a most unlikely redemption movie for Nicolas Cage. We’d confidently call it his best role in years.
If Suicide Squad really wants to nail its tone, there’s no better film to emulate than Kick-Ass. It might not be part of the DC universe, its heroes might not even be real or worst heroes ever, but as far as playful superhero flicks go, it’s execution is on point. If Suicide Squad can even partially achieve its tone, DC can breathe a sigh of relief and mark it a success.