Suicide Squad, Edgy Teens, and a Pink Unicorn Fetish

suicide squad poster worst heroes ever jared leto will smith margot robbie viola davies joel kinnaman cara delevigne david ayer

There are some posts where you just stumble across the most fantastic title.

Anyway, so. Warner Bros’ next DC movie offering is Suicide Squad, and it’s going to be coming out at the start of August. (You can clearly see, again, the manner in which they’re trying to ape the precedent set by Marvel, after Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring a group of not quite heroes and a distinctive pop soundtrack, was released in August as well.) Having been less than impressed by both Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman, Suicide Squad has always been at something of a disadvantage in terms of getting my hard earned (and I say that in the loosest sense of the term) money.

It has, however, done a pretty good job of catching my attention, if nothing else.

Certainly, the second trailer was quite fun. The Queen music fit it quite well, and the whole thing seemed like it could be quite charming. I’ve also been rather impressed at how well they’ve kept the plot hidden, actually; if you think back to the run up to Batman vs Superman, we knew large swaths of the plot already by this point. However, Suicide Squad is out in less than a month or so, and I don’t actually know what it’s about, beyond the basic premise. In and of itself, that’s quite impressive, and I think rather commendable.

(I was quite disappointed by the “everyone ogles Harley” bit, though – I thought that was quite poor, and I’m really hoping that’s not the general trend going forward. Rumours about a Birds of Prey movie headlined by Harley does seem to indicate that DC is hoping she’ll be a breakout character here; this, alongside the Wonder Woman movie, perhaps suggests that DC is really hoping to pick up a large female fanbase and differentiate themselves from Marvel by the strength of their diversity. Which is great, but if that’s what they’re doing, it has to be less male gaze-y.)

Outside of the trailers, the Suicide Squad marketing has been far less… impressive, we’ll say. It all seems to be reaching for a very “edgy teen” sort of aesthetic – that sort of “dark and random” stuff that 13-year-olds and 4chan users think is clever, but most people grow out of fairly soon. It reached its epitome, though, with this:

suicide squad captain boomerang jai courtney Pink Unicorn Fetish david ayer jared leto joker

This is from the character trailer for Captain Boomerang. There’s even a pink unicorn in the background there, as a helpful little addition. They’ve also made their way onto other bits of Captain Boomerang art, suggesting this isn’t just a one-off joke, but rather something of a theme. I desperately, desperately hope this isn’t something that makes its way into the movie, because… well, does that even really need explaining?

“He has a fetish for pink unicorns” is quite possibly the stupidest, most puerile joke you could reach for in a movie like this. Just, why? It isn’t funny in the slightest, but I can’t deal if it’s just an awful joke or an actual character trait. Dear God, I hope it’s the former.

I am worried, though, that this movie is going to just collapse in on itself in a whirlwind of “edgy” crap. On the one hand, there’s the fact that David Ayer said that the recent trailers have been a better representation of the tone of the movie than the original Comic Con teaser (which was much more reserved); I don’t know whether this extends to the posters and associated ephemera, like the above pink unicorn nonsense, but certainly there’s a level of consistency to all this marketing that suggests this is the general tone of the movie.

There’s also Jared Leto’s joker – and, while I’ve been trying to reserve judgement on the tattoos and suchlike, a lot of what he’s said about the part has me a little concerned. Of course, his own antics in the part, supposedly “method acting”, have left me somewhat disinclined to view his performance favourably. I wouldn’t be surprised if, admittedly, this was being played up in marketing the movie (interviews, press junkets, etc) to try and fit a very specific narrative – that this Suicide Squad movie is going to be kerrr-aaazzzy. (One also gets the impression that Leto is trying to “out-Joker” Ledger, given the widespread belief that Ledger died method acting as the Joker. He didn’t, obviously,  but it’s rather uncomfortable that this is what Leto is doing. This stuff also makes him a horrible person, but whatever.)

I don’t know, really. It could go either way – perhaps the movie is going to be clever and incisive, or maybe it’ll be a poor parody of childish, edgy humour. At the minute, it’s still hard to tell, but it’s also clear which one is the frontrunner.

It occurs to me I may well have just written several hundred words about why I don’t think a particular joke is very funny. Possibly to the people who do find it funny (why???) I come across as very self-entitled. But… well, I don’t want to be misconstrued, but I do really hope I’m completely wrong here. I want this movie to be good, because I love these characters, and I like to watch good movies. Of course I don’t want DC projects to fail, that’d be ridiculous.

But they don’t seem to be trying very hard not to.

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