So, it’s official – James Gunn has joined the DCEU and will write the second Suicide Squad movie. He’ll also probably end up directing it too, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
It’s a genius move by Warner Brothers’ board, who are probably too busy crafting a 23 thousand page thank you letter to Disney to read this feature. But when they’re done doing that, they might want to take a look at the following lessons from Guardians’ success, if they really want to get the most Gunn’s Suicide Squad to be great.
Give the director control
This is the biggest lesson on this list. Warner Brothers’ main issue during the devolution of the DC cinematic universe is the increasing micromanagement that made Justice League such an unholy mess. But the problems were evident on Suicide Squad.
David Ayer’s original cut was re-edited after some bright spark at the company announced in a meeting ‘Hey, people like the trailers, right? Let’s just make the movie more like the trailers by hiring a trailer editor to do a new cut!’
Guardians, meanwhile, was made in the exact opposite spirit.
“When Joss Whedon read the first draft that I had written of Guardians of the Galaxy, he thought it wasn’t “James Gunn” enough. I had actually been holding back. I was afraid that to make a huge commercial movie, I had to make it like other movies,” Gunn said.
“Joss said, ‘I like the parts that are ‘James Gunn.’ Just make it more ‘James Gunn.’’ And that’s what I did. I was glad he gave me that vote of confidence.”
Please, please pay attention to this, Warner Brothers. Please.
Make the music work
One of the most frequent criticisms of the first Suicide Squad movie was the needle drop soundtrack. Predictable songs that have been heard in a billion other TV shows and movies, appearing at the most obvious moments – Sympathy For Devil when a baddie is introduced, Spirit in the Sky for a helicopter shot, even House of the Rising Sun to introduce a location…
Contrast that with Guardians’ ‘Awesome Mix-Tape’ attitude, where songs are carefully and passionately selected to hit the exact emotional beat required by the scene – adding another layer to sequences, as opposed to just pointing out what’s happening in them.
Understand your assets
If there’s one thing Suicide Squad doesn’t need help with, it’s casting. Every single member of the Squad fits their character perfectly – to the extent that even Jai Courtney’s Boomerang worked. But, perhaps because of the editing process, the Squad never felt like an actual team.
If there’s one thing James Gunn knows, it’s how to bring a team together. Guardians’ success has been scientifically proven to be 98% based on the chemistry of the cast (with the other 2% being the fact it stars a raccoon and a tree). That’s partly because Gunn’s narrative brings them together in an organic and surprising way – there’s no “This is Katana. She’s got my back. I would advise not getting killed by her. Her sword traps the souls of its victims.” style dialogue in Guardians, everyone’s exposition evolves naturally.
So, all Gunn will have to do is take the excellent actors he already has – yes, even Jared Leto – and give them connections we care about, and he’ll have fixed one of the biggest problems of the first film.
Tell a complete story
Yes, Guardians has connections to the MCU – which will be even more obvious when Captain Marvel comes out, but they’re relatively subtle. Whereas the main MCU can sometimes feel a bit like an ongoing TV show, Guardians stood out as something more special, which is what made it so exciting when they joined the rest of the gang in the MCU.
The first Suicide Squad didn’t just have Batman wandering in and out of the story for ‘plot’ reasons (though no-one explained why he didn’t bother helping out with the end-of-the-world scenario that was the film’s third act), it also ended on one of the most annoying cliffhangers (Joker rescuing Harley) of recent memory.
All Suicide Squad 2 has to do is give us a film with a beginning, a middle and an end – ideally in that order and we’ll be happy.
Add DavidBautista (and Michael Rooker)
King Shark, Bane, Killer Croc’s previously undiscovered big brother, we don’t care who he plays, just take up Dave’s offer to join the DCEU. Batistuta isn’t just one of the very best things in each of the Guardians films he appears in (and we all know he improvised Infinity War’s best line), he deserves a decent role after major career risks he’s taken to support his friend.
One thing’s for sure, Michael Rooker will appear in some capacity – he’s appeared in four movies, two reality shows, a video game and a web series that Gunn’s made, so we’d put our bag of stolen loot on Rooker showing up as a Belle Reve Penitentiary guard in Suicide Squad 2.