Suicide Squad was supposed to be a frothy summer movie; the drunk cousin of the DC family who makes holiday dinners more fun but doesn’t actually host them. But thanks to the critical failure of Batman v Superman, it now carries an unexpected sense of responsibility and gravity. It can’t just show up late to liven things up; it has to host the party, cook the food, and send out the invites. The stakes have never been higher for a superhero flick to prove that its universe — in this case, DC — can deliver entertainment that isn’t convoluted or self-serious.
“Two years ago Suicide Squad was a tertiary DC property,” writer and director David Ayer told Entertainment Weekly. “It was a cool little playground, and I was going to go make my movie. Now it’s like the hype bus. All of the attention has swung onto it, and it has to carry a lot more weight than it was ever intended to.”
That might sound daunting — Ayer sure seems thrilled, doesn’t he? But there’s an easy way Suicide Squad can deliver: Throw fan service out the window.
Comic book movies are no different from any book adaptation. There will be certain moments and scenes diehard fans want to see, and there will be viewers who couldn’t care less about the source material and just want to be entertained. Part of why Batman v Superman forgot to have fun was that it was overly concerned with cramming in easter eggs to fans, regardless of whether they made sense for the story — like the Flash’s nonsensical cameo.
Suicide Squad simply needs to forget about fan service. It doesn’t need to extend a middle finger to the comic book reader; it can still have nods and easter eggs so long as they don’t disrupt the plot. But for Gotham’s sake, tone it down. Focus on making a coherent movie that holds up outside its source material. This problem is not solely relegated to Batman v Superman; the Harry Potter movies were fun, but largely inaccessible to non-readers. They would have felt less rushed if they focused on standing on their own as films. Suicide Squad has the potential to be the most fun and darkly funny superhero movie since the supremely underrated Kick-Ass. DC just needs to be bolder about going off-book.