David Ayer just released this photo of the Suicide Squad (sans the Joker):
And it raises one very important question:
Has David Ayer actually ever read a DC comic book before?
This article is exploring that question, and one more, equally important one, just as a bonus:
Is David Ayer the right director for a DC movie?
(Spoiler alert: the answer to both is no.)
Now. Let’s start with a look at Ayer himself.
Ayer was born in Champaign, Illinois, on January 18, 1968, and grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Bethesda,
Maryland, where he was kicked out of his house by his parents as a teenager. Ayer then lived with his cousin in Los
Angeles, California, where his experiences in South Central Los Angeles became the inspiration for many of his
films. Ayer then enlisted in the United States Navy as a submariner.
Most of Ayer’s films (Training Day, Dark Blue, S.W.A.T., Harsh Times, Street Kings, End of Watch and Sabotage) are
gritty, violent films based in LA and exploring crime, corruption, morality and the effects of violence on the
human mind. While his films are really good, there’s no denying he has a very specific comfort zone as a director
and has really only stepped outside of it for three of his ten films, and two of those are war films and the other
is the first Fast and Furious movie (which also deals with crime in LA, albeit in the form of street racing). The
two war films (U-571 and Fury) explore the exact same themes as his other films, just present them in a different
setting. So we essentially have a director who has made the same movie 10 times, with characters like these:
Not that that’s a problem, and I have nothing against people who look like that, it’s just now you can see that he
really doesn’t ever step out of that tone and visual style. So when he got a huge DC gig, instead of using it as a
chance to show the world his versatility as a director and his ability to work off of existing characters with
decades of history, he shows us that he has no versatility, and he doesn’t care about DC that much. All David
Ayer’s characters have that street criminal kinda look about them, and they all have a similar tone and explore the
same themes. So while Zack Snyder is making Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman and Justice League, which all look
like actual DC stories, David Ayer is fucking around with the characters and creating his own stupid street gang
thug versions of classic characters just because that’s what he’s more comfortable working with. He’s telling us
“I’m definitely keen for the payday and fame that come with making a DC movie, but I don’t want to grow or evolve
in any way as a director and/or artist, so instead of getting a really great Suicide Squad movie, you’ll be getting
another Training Day/Dark Blue/S.W.A.T./Harsh Times/Street Kings/End of Watch/Sabotage movie but with DC
characters. And because I’m REALLY stubborn, I’m even going to make the DC characters you know and love look
exactly like they came from any of my other movies.”
I just really feel like he’s not the right person to make a comic book movie. He said in an interview that he loves
DC, but it’s painfully obvious that he either doesn’t know anything about the characters or just doesn’t care about
completely changing everything.
One more huge tick in the “cons” column is that this movie does officially tie in with the other DC movies, which
means that fans can’t just be like “well, it was a one-off, it doesn’t matter” because these characters are now a part
of the whole DC cinematic universe and that means if they show up in any of the other movies, they’ll look like
What’s scariest about this is that the official Joker photo (which I already ranted about here) would actually
fit in with this crowd. This is not a good thing, but the new look for “the Joker” does make sense when you see the
kinds of characters Ayer loves to explore.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the actual characters we see in the photo and compare them to the comics. I’m not
going to be doing too much commenting on the Suicide Squad’s comic book history, because to be honest they are
constantly changing and in terms of which members they’re picked, accuracy to the comics isn’t really hugely
important. I’m really just talking about the visual design of the characters themselves.
Let’s go from left to right:
1:) Slipknot (yes, that’s really a character’s name)
So Slipknot, other than having *the world’s most boring Wikipedia entry out of any superhero ever* (link to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slipknot_%28comics%29), is a character who is famous for designing “durable ropes”.
Yeah, that’s it. His “powers and abilities” section reads:
“Mastery of ropes, assassin training, use of unbreakable ropes.”
His is the kind of instantly forgettable character that dies in the first scene; just to bring home to the audience
the fact that the explosive collars the Suicide Squad are forced to wear do in fact explode.
2:) Captain Boomerang (yes, that’s really a character’s name as well)
Captain Boomerang is a really hit-and-miss character. On one hand, it’s pretty cool to see an Australian character
in comics and finally being portrayed in live action. On the other hand, he’s a horrible character. When he’s not
too busy being horribly racist, sexist, or just spouting ridiculous Australian slang, he spends his time coming up with truly laughable super-villain plots.
He’s either portrayed with an incredibly over-the-top Australian accent which borders on it’s own kind of racist,
or is just white-washed into an American accented character. Also, in the Suicide Squad photo, I don’t see a single
boomerang. Although to be fair, he has shown true supervillain style with that boot made out of duct tape. And some
This is the least revealing Enchantress outfit I could find other than the Suicide Squad picture. So I’m of two
minds regarding her design in this photo. In the “cons” column, you’ve got the fact that she looks like a gross
gypsy mixed with the girl from The Ring. In the “pros” column, you’ve got the fact that she’s not showing most of
her body just because. Steering away from her ridiculously revealing comic-book costume is a good thing, but this
is a whole other thing. I think they’ve gone way too far in the other direction. She also just looks dirty, like a
goth-obsessed teen that hasn’t had a shower in a year.
It’ll be really interesting (and hopefully really cool) to see her use some actual magic in the film though, as
comic movies so far have avoided any reference to actual magic and have tried to explain every existing superpower
with science. So that could be fun.
4:) Rick Flagg
I just don’t care about Rick Flagg. Maybe he’s had some baddass moments, I honestly don’t know. He’s a
soldier/mercenary type, good with guns and whatever. I mean, he doesn’t even have a “super” name. That’s how boring
he is. At least Slipknot has a cool sounding name. This guy has no gimmick or theme, he is just a normal soldier.
He has ONE distinguishing feature in the comics, and that’s his ridiculously bright yellow turtleneck sweater. They
took that out of the Suicide Squad movie, thankfully, so now he’s just gone back to being a superhumanly
forgettable soldier. Look at that guy. Not even a fucking eye patch. At least Nick Fury had an eye patch.
5:) Harley Quinn
You know who Harley Quinn is. Everyone knows who Harley Quinn is. Oh, except David Ayer, apparently. Don’t get me
wrong, Margot Robbie is just an amazing choice. She will be really great in the role, and I was super keen when I
heard she was playing Harley. Very cool. But this outfit… Far out, Ayer. What are you doing? This is not Harley
Quinn. This is a teen at a drug-heavy music festival who just happens to be a fan of Harley Quinn. She looks like a
cosplayer trying way too hard to push the sex appeal of the character. Like, WAY too hard. Those aren’t even pants;
When most of your “shorts” are obscured by your belt, you’re not wearing shorts. I know that Harley Quinn quite
often wears skimpy clothing, but this is ridiculous. Of the clothing she IS wearing, there’s barely a hint of the
comic book character we all know and love. Seriously, out of all the characters in this film, Harley was the one
that I was most excited to see finally portrayed in a DC live action movie.
I’m just hoping her performance as an actor isn’t affected by her ridiculous costume.
NOW we’re talking! Finally! So that’s the comic book Deadshot, and compared with this:
You can see a huge resemblance. We can tell we’re actually looking at the same character this time! I guess one out
of nine isn’t too bad for someone who obviously has no idea what they’re doing. Bravo, Ayer.
But even with this one, I have a bit of concern. This costume looks quite… Well, home-made. I mean, it looks
good, don’t get me wrong, but it looks like a well done cosplay instead of a professional costume design. I’m just
glad Ayer was paying enough attention to put some wrist-mounted guns on his costume, that’s awesome. I guess
Deadshot is one character David Ayer actually likes enough to want to get right.
One thing I’m concerned about is Will Smith. Don’t get me wrong, he’s awesome, it’s just that even when he’s in
full on action movies, his delivery is tinged with comedy. It’s like no matter which character he plays, there’s
always a bit of himself he can’t totally get away from, the part that always acts like a goof. His voice is also
quite high pitched usually, so unless he gets those things under control and really takes this seriously, be
prepared for a Deadshot who says things like “… Oh, HELL no!” and “I make this look good!”
7:) Killer Croc
OH GOD DAMMIT DAVID!
What the actual fuck is this? A gargoyle? The Thing from Fantastic Four in black and white? One of the not so well
known bad guys from the Power Rangers? Come on!
… I actually don’t even know what to say about this one. Killer Croc, even when done badly, is a giant monster
that destroys shit and lives in the sewers of Gotham, being all scary and shit. At his best he is an absolute
nightmare, a hellspawn brought forth from the depths of Gotham itself, rampaging and getting all up in Batman’s
business; sort of like if Bane dressed up as Godzilla.
This looks like Mickey Rourke got that Greyscale disease from Game of Thrones.
You may not be a huge DC comic book fan. You may not have heard much about Killer Croc. If that’s the case, let me
tell you a bit about the character. Firstly, he’s supposed to be 11 fucking feet tall. Sure, he’s the tallest one
in that group photo, but unless they’re all fucking giants, he’s nowhere near what he’s supposed to be. Also, and
this might be a minor point, but you know us pedantic comic book fans; His name his Killer CROC, not Killer Rock
Monster or Killer Gargoyle. Why doesn’t he resemble a crocodile? Also, another minor point, but Killer Croc was
never in the Suicide Squad. What is he doing here? Why would he be involved with this? I mean, I guess you can sort
of justify any major criminal being in the Squad because if their crimes are bad enough Amanda Waller can sweep in
and conscript them to work for her for a reduced sentence. So it’s not like the Squad is limited by specific
eligibility criteria or anything, it’s just that it seems weird for Croc to be part of the team.
8:) El Diablo
El Diablo is one of those characters that I feel like was created in 30 seconds and never evolved beyond the
initial sketches and two dimensional character background. There have been three different El Diablo’s in DC
comics, and all of them have been just as boring as each other. To Ayer’s credit though, he definitely picked the
least boring version in Chato Santana, who’s tattoos in the comics do actually resemble the ones in the Suicide
Squad picture. With this character, Ayer is showing his strengths again. And by “strengths”, I mean inflexibility.
This character fits in so well with Ayer’s other characters that I’m surprised he hasn’t already shown up in Harsh
Times or something. He is actually just a street criminal gang member type dude who somehow is deemed interesting
enough to join the Suicide Squad.
The Chato Santana version of El Diablo has pyrokinesis though, so that’s pretty cool.
So Katana is an interesting one, and at the very least they got her mask right. I think this could be a great
character to have in the Squad, and other than Deadshot (minus the inevitable Will Smithisms) Katana is the
character I am most excited to see. Since Ayer has just completely and utterly dropped the ball with Joker and
Harley, all we have left is to hope that some of the less well known characters get some awesome scenes. Katana is
incredibly skilled in the comics, having trained with Samurai and martial arts masters all her life, and even
training with Batman at one point as an adult. So her character, if done well, will be very cool. I also can’t help
but see her as Rila Fukushima, since I love the CW version of Green Arrow, but I’m keen to see a new portrayal of
the character, especially one that actually wears her Katana costume. Her picture in the Suicide Squad photo also
reminds me of Devon Aoki’s portrayal of Miho in Sin City which is funny because Aoki was originally cast to play
Katana in the CW’s Arrow. Just a weird little coincidence.
Anyway, I actually love Katana’s costume in this photo, and I’m very keen to see her interact with the rest of the
Squad and to see her show off some skills in action scenes.
10:) Belle Reve
While not actually a character, I wanted to include the background in this list anyway as it’s an important
inclusion in the photo. I love this photo just for having the “Welcome to Belle Reve” sign in the background. It’s
definitely a nice touch, and shows an uncharacteristic and until now unseen attention to detail from Ayer. For
those who don’t know, Belle Reve is most commonly portrayed as a prison for metahuman criminals, but has also been
used as a base of operations for the Squad. This is pretty cool. It might also be where the Joker is being kept
prisoner, although my bet is that the Squad will visit Arkham instead at some point in the film.
NOW, there are a few other details I’m pretty keen on. Firstly, and probably most obviously for anyone who knows
me, the Batman cameo:
So that is very clearly Batman on the set of Suicide Squad. There are also rumours flying around about Jared Leto
showing up in BvS, which would be very cool. Either way, I am incredibly excited to see Ben Affleck’s Batman
interact with Jared Leto’s Joker. Even though Ayer’s version of the Joker is the most ridiculously inaccurate
portrayal since ever, his performance as an actor will be amazing, and it will be worth it just to see these two
face off. It will also be cool to see the Joker in Arkham, as this has never been done in live action before. The
scenes between Batman and a straight-jacketed, incarcerated Joker in the comics have become iconic and occur
frequently throughout, and it would be amazing to see with Affleck and Leto.
One thing I’m not too keen on is origin stories. I’m quite concerned that there are so many characters, let alone
unknown characters, in one movie. This essentially means that we’re most likely going to get a few origin stories
within this film, if not at least some expository dialogue explaining how some of the characters got started with
the Squad and spelling out their motivations to the audience. This is kind of a non-comedic DC version of the
Guardians of the Galaxy gambit that Marvel put to the world: a group of fairly unknown characters in an ensemble
film tenuously connected to the rest of the universe but going through their own unrelated adventures. The only
problem here is that Guardians of the Galaxy worked because of its comedy and its willingness to be silly and not
take itself too seriously. Suicide Squad is not going to be funny (unless it’s so bad that you have to laugh). It’s
going to be a large group of mostly unexplained characters working for a relatively unknown agency and I feel like
that’s a big ask for a director who has only ever made LA based street crime movies. I mean, essentially, the tone
matches up, but everything about this kind of production is going to put Ayer way out of his depth.
I think the casting mostly is great, and I think the actors will do a great job with what they’ve been given, but
if the greatest actor in the world was given a horrible script, there’s not much they can do to make it great. I’m
just really hoping that either:
A) these photos are a prank to try to gain publicity;
B) Ayer is secretly a genius and huge DC fan who has hidden all of his directorial skill until now; or
C) The actors just really, really fucking nail their performances so much that it cancels out everything else about
I just want to make one more point before I post this. One thing I’ve been hearing from people who inexplicably
like this new look is that it fits in with the “real world” look of the DC cinematic universe. Now, that’s cool and
everything, and I guess this does look a little more “realistic” than the comics would, but my question is: Why?
Why do these movies need to be “realistic”? Nolan already did that. It’s done. Move on. I know Nolan’s Dark Knight
trilogy inspired Man of Steel and therefore the rest of the new DC movies, but everyone involved was very clear
right from the start that Nolan’s movies were stand alone and not meant to be a part of a wider DC universe. No
part of Superman is realistic. There is absolutely no aspect of his character that would ever occur in real life. I
like the idea of seeing how the real world would REACT to a fictional alien superhero, but this is going too far.
DC is just not set in the real world. Marvel at least uses New York and real place names, but DC has always been
all about the fake places. Gotham, Metropolis, Bludhaven, Central City, Star City… It’s just always been clear
that these stories are taking place in a completely fictional place. The other thing is that these are comic book
stories. Superhero stories. I am just so sick of seeing comic book movies adopt this “but what if it was in the
real world?” kind of attitude. The whole point of comic books is that fantastic, amazing, completely unrealistic
things can happen and because it’s a comic book, you can’t say shit about it. No one cares that Batman wouldn’t
actually be able to fit every gadget in the world in his utility belt or that the Suicide Squad essentially breaks
every law and is in breach of basic human rights. It’s a fucking comic book. People wear ridiculous, colourful,
spandex outfits and can somehow shoot the wings off a fly from a hundred yards without even looking. Superheroes
can move faster than the speed of light and throw continents at each other and create alternate universes.
The bottom line is, these stories are not MEANT to be realistic. This insistence on merging superheroes with the
real world is going to result in movies like this, where it doesn’t even look like a superhero movie any more and
the iconic characters we used to love will eventually turn into plain, trench coat-wearing, stubbled white guys who
all look like John McClane or fucking Ryan Gosling or some shit; What made them superheroes in the first place will
be white-washed until the character names have no meaning any more. And the worst part is there’s just no reason for
it. It would actually work as a proper, colourful, violent comic book movie. There is a reason Comic books are so
popular in the first place, and Hollywood (or, more accurately, DC) seems to be completely ignoring that.
I love that David Ayer wants to make a movie about a top secret government agency where the world’s worst criminals
are given high risk, classified jobs to reduce their sentences and are forced to wear explosive devices that go off
if they disobey or desert the team. That sounds awesome, and he will do a great job making that film, but there was
no reason to make it a Suicide Squad film. David Ayer does not make superhero movies, and this will be no
exception. It will be called Suicide Squad, and it will have characters who share the names of DC characters, but
it will not be THE Suicide Squad.
Now, despite all my negativity, I will be happy to call myself an idiot and apologise to David Ayer if he pulls
this off. It will be worth it to be completely wrong if it means we all get to watch a great Suicide Squad movie.
So please, David Ayer, PLEASE: Prove me wrong.