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Two things are obvious from watching the trailer for Suicide Squad. Firstly, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen remains an awesome track. And secondly, almost everything you need to know about the movie is right there in two-and-a-half minutes. Kind of.
There is, after all, an introduction to the team. “I want to assemble a task force of the most dangerous people on the planet,” says Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) at the start of proceedings. “Worst of the worst.”
Later, Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) goes through the various members of the team — notably describing them, as opposed to naming them; only Will Smith’s Deadshot is actually named in the trailer, interestingly enough — by introducing them as, “Guy who shoots people, he’s a crocodile and he eats people, burns people, you’re possessed by a witch, and she’s just crazy.” It’s not just packing an impressive amount of exposition into 10 seconds of footage, it’s talking to the audience in their own language; you don’t know these guys’ names, it says, but this is what they’re about.
That lesson concludes at the end of the trailer, with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) saying, “We’re bad guys, this is what we do” with the attitude of someone who can’t quite believe the person they’re talking to hasn’t quite got it yet. They are, indeed, the “Worst Heroes Ever,” because they’re not actually heroes, no matter what Deadshot might say about saving the world.
The intentional vagueness about specifics continues beyond not naming characters to explaining the plot of the movie. “You’re going somewhere very bad, to do something that’ll get you killed,” Kinnaman explains, and everything else is just suggested by the visuals. What has caused so much carnage in the city? Is it the Joker (Jared Leto)? That’s definitely the suggestion, but I admit to wondering if he’s a red herring — aside from the scenes of he and Harley together, he doesn’t interact with anyone else on the team in the trailer, leading me to wonder if he appears in flashback to Harley’s origin but nowhere else.
(Of course, the Joker’s homicidal insanity can help portray the Squad in a better light, but the scale of destruction on show feels a little too epic to come from him. Just as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s Doomsday reveal has since been hinted to be misdirection, I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar was going on here.)
But again, that’s getting bogged down in specifics, which is what the trailer tries to avoid. (Katana doesn’t even get a one-line snarky introduction!) What do we learn for sure from the trailer? That it’ll be a funnier movie than Batman v Superman — the cut from the increasingly kinetic, amped-up feel to Boomerang (Jai Courtney) hiding behind a car, having a beer nervously might be my favorite moment of the trailer, undercutting what just happened marvelously — and a more colorful one, as well, even if those colors are inside a relatively dark frame.
In both use of music and the positioning of “only the assholes can save us now,” this feels very much informed by Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which on the one hand is a no-brainer. It was, after all, a hugely successful movie, and more importantly, marketing campaign that transformed an unknown concept into a must-see movie. But it is also curious, because Warners‘ DCU lacks what Marvel’s Guardians was kicking against: a pre-existing, familiar status quo and set of heroes. Audiences knew what the Guardians were a reaction to, but the Squad … ? That’s more of a mystery, at least until Batman v Superman is released in March.
For now, then, perhaps it’s best to take the Suicide Squad on face value: something that’s visually spectacular, beautifully edited and looks like fun. There are worst first impressions to make.
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