When that first San Diego Comic-Con trailer for Suicide Squad was released in 2015, I had people telling me that they expected it to be better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, if for no other reason than the fact that it was going to be something that we truly hadn't seen before, a comic book movie comprised almost entirely of villains with A-listers like Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto and then up and coming talent Margot Robbie leading the way. There was genuine excitement at seeing Harley Quinn on the big screen for the first time among other things and optimism for what the movie could potentially be really was tangible.
Then BvS was released in theaters and everything changed. Suddenly Suicide Squad was no longer looked at as the unique addition to the DC Extended Universe, but now as a hopeful saving grace to what so many had been disappointed with in BvS, the same BvS that many of them had already said wouldn't be as good as Suicide Squad. I never understood that logic of already downing a movie before it releases and proclaiming it not as good as the one right after it, only to treat that second movie like a make or break effort for your own emotions of content.
In the midst of "too dark" complaints with BvS, the word got out that Suicide Squad was undergoing reshoots to make it "lighter and more fun," which had been denied by director David Ayer and only ultimately added fuel to a fire that was about to go full inferno by the time August 2016 arrived.....and what an inferno that was.
The critics hated it seemingly more than they did BvS, but despite another vitriolic critical skewering of a DCEU movie, Suicide Squad opened to $133.7 million domestically and remained in first place for three straight weekends, and then second place for three more weekends after that. In fact, since it's August 5, 2016 release date it remained in the Top 10 for weekend grosses until its 9th weekend of release between September 30 and October 2, when it fell to 11th. The movie grossed $325.1 million domestically and $745.6 million worldwide without a release in China, the second largest movie market on the planet. Despite receiving a 25 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 40 on Metacritic, it has a user score of 61 percent on RT and a 6.2 out of 10 on Metacritic, proving clearly that it has an audience in the midst of its polarization.
When talking about Suicide Squad, a lot of people including DCEU fans have it as the worst of the DCEU movies, meaning out of four total that have been released as of this posting, it sits 4th among them. That's also where I personally put it as well on the list, but unlike many others I still at least like the movie. I only saw it once in theaters and wasn't inclined to see it again there like I was with BvS and Wonder Woman, but I have watched it several times at home and on cable and my feelings from the first viewing are still very much the same. The first act with the dossiers on everyone is slow and not so great with the setup, the second act gets better once the team reaches Midway City to rescue Amanda Waller, and the third act from about the bar scene on is the best part of the movie for me. I don't have the same issues that others have about big CGI boss battles at the end of these movies to say the least.
If you look at it rationally, there is a lot to like about Suicide Squad as a whole. For me, I appreciate its uniqueness as a movie itself, let alone a comic book movie. I like how it largely fills in some intriguing blanks about the world of the DCEU itself that we get a bigger glimpse of three movies in, taking a much closer look at the criminal underworld and how it is structured along with just how certain government agencies are responding to the "Metahuman Thesis," which also includes a bit of magic. I loved Will Smith's Deadshot, I loved Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, I loved Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and yes, I loved Jared Leto's "Mob Boss" Joker. Seriously, that was just awesome to see him as the Godfather of the criminal underworld and all others either work for him or fear him because of how crazy he is. I look forward to seeing more of that portrayal in the future.
The movie had a ton of easter eggs, including a great tribute to Alex Ross' iconic Joker and Harley artwork, the soundtrack was energetic, and despite some structural issues with editing and the plot here and there, it's just a fun movie with an actual heart behind its group of characters that are all cold-blooded villains. It's that difference and heart that seemingly endears it to many of its fans and make no mistake, Suicide Squad has A LOT of fans. It wouldn't have made close to three-quarters of a billion dollars without China if it didn't.
So now, a year after its theatrical release, what is the legacy of Suicide Squad as a movie? Many would tell you that it's the worst comic book movie ever made and while that is their opinion, I question how many comic book movies anyone who claims that has even seen in their life and I must conclude that they have seen none that came out before 2008. The 1990's decade alone contains several far worse comic book movies than Suicide Squad in my opinion, and I have seen them all more than once. I know what I'm talking about here.
Others will tell you that Suicide Squad was a victim of knee-jerk panic from WB after the critical thrashing of BvS and that we were cheated out of seeing a darker, more compelling and more confidently constructed masterpiece as that first comic-con trailer seemed to indicate we were getting. It is difficult for me to argue against that perspective, even as someone that likes the movie as currently constructed. It is clear that the movie was heavily altered in the wake of DCEU criticism and it is a shame on some level that the words of at least 234 single-minded critics and bloggers affected the product that millions of people as an audience could have been treated to. Such is the way of things though, and we should accept that.
Those who love the movie, in addition to those who champion it as a DCEU film will point to the box office, the audience scores from RT and Metacritic, and the Academy Award it won for Best Hair and Makeup as proof that Suicide Squad was not only a successful movie but also a popular one as well, rendering the often touted phrase of "Nobody likes it" as an venomously incorrect one at best. Indeed, I stated shortly after its release that the success of the movie proved the DCEU was critic proof because it now had an established fan base that was willing to support it even in the face of trenchant criticism. I still stand by that statement today.
The bottom line is that when it is all said and done, Suicide Squad really is a classic movie either because of how much you love it or because of how much you hate it. Similar to BvS, it's a pretty easy topic to start anything from a rant to debate about on either side of the coin. Classic as a word is defined as "judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind." The debate about the subjective quality of the movie rages on, but there's no denying that it is a one of a kind movie, despite numerous attempts to compare it with other movies, most notably Guardians of the Galaxy. Another definition of classic as a noun is "a work of art of recognized and established value." Suicide Squad is most certainly recognized and considered by some to be a work of art for a variety of reasons, and whether or not you consider it subjectively good value or subjectively bad value, its persistence in the conversation of comic book movies maintains the fact that it does possess a definitive value to those who watch and talk about comic book movies. If it didn't, it would be forgotten as easily as other seemingly bad comic book movies have like The Phantom or Elektra to name just a few.
To those of you who champion Suicide Squad as your favorite DCEU movie and one of your favorite comic book movies, I salute you. You've likely gone though a decent amount of completely unnecessary crap defending your opinions on it and that's not the easiest thing to do. To those of you who are like me and many others that can appreciate it for what it is without severely denigrating it, kudos to you. For those of you who hate it and truly do think it's the worst comic book movie you have ever seen, I urge you to watch Batman Forever, Batman and Robin, The Phantom, Captain America (1990), The Punisher (1989), Blade II, Blade: Trinity, Daredevil (2003), Elektra, any Fantastic Four movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Hulk (2003), Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, and if you STILL believe after all of those movies that Suicide Squad is the worst comic book movie you have ever seen then that's fine. Just don't be a jackwagon about it to people that do like it.