All the Ways Suicide Squad Could Have Been Much, Much Better

Illustration for article titled All the Ways Suicide Squad Could Have Been Much, Much Better

Suicide Squad finally opened in theaters this weekend, charting impressive box-office numbers but less-than-stellar critical response. A bunch of io9 folks at went to see the movie over the weekend and, like lots of viewers, came away with nagging feelings that the movie could have been... well, better. Here are our thoughts on how we would have changed Suicide Squad.

Illustration for article titled All the Ways Suicide Squad Could Have Been Much, Much Better

From senior staff writer Evan Narcisse:

No Military Support

The whole premise of Suicide Squad was to assemble a full-deniability, metahuman-level task force to handle ultra-powerful threats. So the fact that the Squad rolls into Midway City with a ton of air and ground support feels like a bit of a head-scratcher as creative decisions go. Thematically, the presence of a thick contingent of U.S. military troops provides a foil for the group of non-heroes; their abilities look average compared to super-feats pulled off by the villains. They also serve as a backdrop for the screwed-up moral and mental states of the Squad. But commanding officer Rick Flag does that all by himself. The Suicide Squad would’ve felt a lot more formidable as just a six, seven-person team without a bunch of G.I. Joe-a-likes in the background.

A Better Villain/Threat

Once squad member-gone-bad Enchantress gets powered up by her formerly dormant brother, we get shown scenes of the sorceress destroying satellites and military infrastructure. What exactly was the deal here? The Enchantress and her antediluvian transdimensional god-sibling wanted to, er, end modernity or something? Outside of the consequences that it would have on some of the core cast’s loved ones, the threat they presented to the world at large was vague and tough to care about. A villain from Apokolips could’ve built on the dream sequence from Batman vs Superman and provided stronger foreshadowing for the alleged threats that the Justice League will be facing.

Illustration for article titled All the Ways Suicide Squad Could Have Been Much, Much Better

Less Cannon Fodder

Yeah, those pustule-visaged grunts coming at Deadshot and crew sure were gross-looking for the first few minutes after they appeared. But the fights where the Squad and their armed forces support engage with the necro-zombies mostly felt like filler. The exception being the sequences where Deadshot mows down a whole wave by himself. By the time Harley’s elevator fight with the Enchantress’ goons rolls around, the audience is probably already in love with her. Every time the crusty grunts showed up on screen, I knew nothing of consequence was going to happen.

Illustration for article titled All the Ways Suicide Squad Could Have Been Much, Much Better

Throw Away Captain Boomerang

Played by Jai Courtney, the Aussie villain was mostly smarmy comic relief in the David Ayer film. But, in the Ostrander/Yale comics which comprise the most fondly-remembered version of the Squad, Digger Harkness was a slimy, opportunistic creep-bro. He wasn’t at all the lovable, laughable thief portrayed in the movie; choosing a more troubling interpretation could have given the film the dark edge it seemed to be crying out for. This version of Boomerang was a waste; the minor laughs his lines got weren’t worth the screen time spent on him.


More Batman

This was only Batman’s second appearance in the DC Extended Universe and his scenes were almost superfluous. It felt like the Dark Knight was in the film only because Harley—and by extension, the Joker—was there. Suicide Squad should’ve told viewers more about Batman in this universe, especially since the movie mentions that Harley helped Joker kill Robin. That factoid would’ve been the perfect vector to pull the Dark Knight into a confrontation with Amanda Waller, who’s using two bad guys that he put away as part of her team. Is the Batman of the DCEU okay with his enemies running free, including a woman partially responsible for his sidekick’s death? More screentime for the Bat would’ve let the filmmakers answer this question, provided they thought of it in the first place. But the post-credits scene sort of makes it seem like Ayer and crew didn’t get that far in their Bat-thinking.


From weekend editor Beth Elderkin:

Change the Mission

There was no need for the major conflict to be supernatural; in fact, I think it made the story weaker. It doubled down on the “themes” from BvS without adding anything new. It would’ve been so much more interesting for DC to approach how supernatural forces, especially evil ones, handle human conflicts. Have the SS be used for unique missions the government couldn’t be officially involved in, i.e. their entire original purpose. Have the final battle be, for example, rescuing a valuable POW from behind enemy lines. If they get caught, they take the fall. Since the big mission would be smaller, you could devote more time to establishing and training the team— you know, like most competent origin stories do. In this case, we’d see their taunts, let them get into antics. Watch them be freakin’ bad guys.

Illustration for article titled All the Ways Suicide Squad Could Have Been Much, Much Better

Give Harley Quinn Longer Lines

Margot Robbie killed it as Harley. But she only spoke in quips; her lines were typically 15 words or less each. While they were cute, they didn’t give us a chance to really identify with our so-called “co-protagonist.” I didn’t need her to be sympathetic, in fact, quite the opposite. I wanted to see her rant and rave and just be crazy. Show us just how great a Harley Quinn Robbie is. For crying out loud, Will Smith got like five monologues, why couldn’t he give one of them to her?


Take Away Zack Snyder’s Rain Machine

If I have to see one more drop of rain in a Snyder movie, I’m going to lose my shit. It’s lazy and contrived visual storytelling to mask the fact that you’re not actually doing any real storytelling. And no, I don’t care that David Ayer directed Suicide Squad, because it’s still a Zack Snyder film at heart. How do I know this? Because there’s still goddamned rain in a third of it.


From staff writer Katharine Trendacosta:

Joker’s Mild

Cut the Joker. Or at least, cut most of the Joker. He’s fine in the Harley flashbacks. And even his sudden appearance at the end might have worked. But he seemed to be in a completely different movie to the rest of the cast. Especially since, other than wanting to break Harley out, his plot wasn’t related to the main threat—he ended up just pulling focus and wasting time that could have been spent with the actual Suicide Squad. Plus, the non-flashback stuff all had the Joker obsessed with getting Harley back, which is wildly out of character for the Joker, who is usually portrayed as not really caring about what happens to Harley as long as he gets what he needs from her. She’s obsessed with him, not the other way around. Cut him, and use Jared Leto’s tears to water a plant.


A Little Backstory Could’ve Gone a Long Way

If they were going to make the main mission what it was, they shouldn’t have made it the first mission of that team. It would make a lot more sense, narratively, for it to be framed as “saving” a member—which I swear, I thought they were doing until it turned out the person they were saving was Waller—and then for it to be a betrayal. If the whole point had to be “found family and BFFs” then they needed to lay that groundwork so Harley leaving, Rick Flag and Dr. Moon sleeping together, et cetera actually made sense as shit to make the team angry.

Illustration for article titled All the Ways Suicide Squad Could Have Been Much, Much Better

Samurai No-Down

Poor Katana. Just, poor Katana. Her whole backstory was confined to Flag telling the others what happened in her past. If you’re going to add her to a team she never rolled with in the classic comics, do more with her presence.


From entertainment reporter Germain Lussier:

Less Pop Songs

Yes, we know. The first full Suicide Squad trailer was universally praised for its use of music and fun tone. And yes, we know that Guardians of the Galaxy was a hit in early August a few years ago with a similar use of pop music. But pop music is not this movie. It works on occasion but, for the most part, it’s very out of place. This is a dark movie about a team of supervillains. Why not keep that tone consistent with a rousing yet ominous orchestral score?


Make the Joker the Bad Guy

I think we all agree the Joker was misused in the film. And if you aren’t going to cut him like Katharine suggests, why not make him the villain? You can have the same set-up, where Amanda Waller puts together the team to have in case of a big threat. But then, just don’t make the threat some dumb secondary character like the Enchantress. Either make it the Joker the whole time, or make it a mystery and reveal it’s him later. Not only does that give him more to do, but it gives Harley a moral dilemma when she’s been battling all movie and then realizes the culprit was her puddin’.


Video games. Comic books. Blackness.


Or WB could have let Ayer release the movie he filmed. Would it have been darker and more serious? For sure but it probably would have made a lot more sense. This is a list of deleted scenes shown in trailers but didn’t make the movie (plus some other info from early test screenings and etc):

  • In early cuts, the movie’s opening detailed June Moone’s posession by Enchantress in real time. Reshoots reshuffled the scene to be later in the movie in flashback form in favor of a new opening centered on Deadshot.
  • Deadshot in the prison cell, watching the rain fall and thinking about his daughter.
  • El Diablo observing the flame of a lit match, before putting it out due to his vow to no longer use his powers.
  • El Diablo being escorted to a training center by being placed in a tube that fills with water to quel his flames, and then unceremoniously dropped onto the ground.
  • Early interviews mentioned Captain Boomerang’s racism and sexism, but the movie is light on examples of such behavior, which have apparently been deleted. Most of them were reportedly directed at Katana, to whom Boomerang is attracted to.
  • Early reports indicated more backstory for Killer Croc, revealing that he lived his entire life as a social outcast due to his physical deformities and has convinced himself that he is beautiful in his own way. Croc crossed paths with Batman while working as muscle-for-hire for numerous Gotham’s crime bosses, while secretly planning to take over one day. There were also scenes displaying his affinity for making sculptures out of discarded materials. Aside from jokes about Croc viewing himself as ‘beautiful,’ one of these were retained in the final cut.
  • Also deleted was a scene where he (Croc) becomes sick at the helicopter escort to Midway City, throws up half-digested pieces of goat, and then eats them again, disgusting the nearby Navy Seals.
  • Early cuts reportedly included a passing reference to Slipknot being serial rapist, likely to further paint him as unsympathetic to the audience ahead of his own death.
  • More scenes of Rick Flag and June Moone’s romantic relationship, including him reading the files of the Suicide Squad recruits after Waller delivers them to him.
  • Another scene where Flag and Moone are out on a date.
  • Extended scene of Joker interrogating Captain Griggs, including the line, “I can’t wait to show you my toys,” which was in every trailer, but was removed from the movie.
  • Joker and his men escaping after shooting up a restaurant. Harley, who is already affiliated with the Joker, follows them on a motorcycle and intercepts their car. Joker bangs his head against the glass in frustration.
  • Joker and Harley then get into a fight, which ends with Harley pointing a gun at Joker’s head. Joker sweet-talks Harley into lowering the gun, charming her, then backhands her across the face. Afterwards he sweet-talks her again and they kiss.
  • Extended Ace Chemicals scene where Harley jumps into the chemicals. More bits of dialogue by the Joker.
  • Extended Batmobile chase scene with more interaction between Joker and Harley. One of the examples, presented in all the trailers, is the Joker punching the roof of his car.
  • Harley using her baseball bat as a mock gun to play shoot at invisible foes.
  • Extended scene of Joker breaking into the nanobomb manufacture facility to arrange for Harley’s neck-bomb to be disabled.
  • More interactions between Harley and Boomerang. Early cuts apparently included her really disliking him despite growing affectionate to all other members of the squad.
  • Extended bar scene with Harley taking everyone’s orders. Deadshot calls for a shot, Katana wants whiskey, Croc and Boomerang settle for beer, Harley asks Diablo wants and he prefers water which she jokes, is “a good idea.” The scene was featured in the trailers, but in the movie it cuts directly to Deadshot’s speech about them almost pulling the mission off.
  • Removed several scenes with the Joker to repaint his relationship with Harley as more loving rather than abusive.
  • Joker and Harley get into an argument after he rescues her in the hijacked helicopter. In early cuts he reportedly pushes her out to kill her, then the helicopter gets shot down. This was apparently reworked into the helicopter getting shot down first and Joker pushing her out to save her.
  • Joker returns during the final battle in the subway station, face half-burnt from the helicopter crash, which apparently leads to a brief altercation with the Suicide Squad. He calls for Harley to escape with him but she refuses for once in order to help her friends, and the Joker escapes after throwing a live grenade at the group to cover his own escape.