Over the weekend, David Ayer made a catastrophic mistake.
He spent $100 on the MayPac fight He released a photo of the Suicide Squad cast in full costume. For free. Just to excite fans. Can you believe the balls on this piece of shit?
The Internet, seemingly predisposed to loathing all things DC, reacted to this static, low-res image of a movie premiering 16 months from now with typical restraint:
Why this Suicide Squad cast look like they about to drop the most fire lazer tag game pic.twitter.com/OfUpH46a9F— Abraham Riesman (@abrahamjoseph) May 3, 2015
In other news, that pic going around of those Suicide Squad cosplayers is okay. I didn't know Will Smith enjoyed cosplay!— Rob Bricken (@RobBricken) May 4, 2015
Cast of "Suicide Squad" looks awesome. pic.twitter.com/uiNjljanTw— Jake Fogelnest (@jakefogelnest) May 4, 2015
Jared leto and margot robbie look ridiculously stupid in the suicide squad photo leaks. This movie is gonna be terrible.— fuckingcrybaby (@MattCugini) May 4, 2015
These #SuicideSquad pictures are hilariously awful. It's bad when CW costumes look better than multi million dollar budget movies…— Nicholas Villilo (@NickVillilo) May 4, 2015
Using isolated Tweets from eggs with 29 followers as evidence of mass opinion is always risky. But then there’s this NY Post story titled “Is Suicide Squad Going to be the Most Boring Comic Book Movie Ever?” What substantiation does the Post use to support this thesis? The same goddamn photo. One poorly lit, heavily Photoshopped photo. Can’t you at least wait until the motion poster comes out or there’s a teaser for a teaser for a Super Bowl commercial to definitively love or hate this movie like responsible pop-culture arbiters, NY Post?
Reactions like these are reflective of both our increased expectations for comic book films in the Marvel era (five years ago, the fanboy jizz over an image like Ayer’s would be enough to bankrupt Elmer’s Glue) and our irrepressible urge to form conclusive opinions within seconds of being presented with new information. We can’t simply say, “It’s a photo; let’s wait for more before weighing in.” You can’t Like, upvote, share, retweet or passionately argue with such a milquetoast take. Stake your claim now, refuse to budge, and earn a hundred Internet Points™ if you end up being right a year later. If you’re wrong, who cares? There’s always another hot take opportunity right around the corner.
Advocating for rational, measured responses to comic book movie marketing in 2015 is a fruitless endeavor. You’re better off trying to convince a Mississippi school board that Jesus didn’t ride a triceratops to work. It is interesting, though, to observe how fans judge images, teasers and casting announcements for DC Comics films compare to those released by their rivals at Marvel Studios.
Suicide Squad is just the latest DC Universe film to be shoved headfirst into the online thresher. Last month, the first trailer for Zack Snyder’s highly anticipated Batman vs. Superman film debuted to mixed reactions. And by mixed, I mean a blend between “This movie causes eye cancer” and “Snyder is worse than ISIS.” It’s a 90 second teaser with one line of dialogue for a movie currently in production. From this we can infer what? Color palette? Tone? The style of Batman’s suit? (Herringbone triple-breasted with pleated pants…so gauche). Certainly not the quality of the movie it’s advertising. Sadly, you could have predicted these reactions without seeing a second of footage. Each nugget of BvS news has mostly been met with scorn. Affleck as Batman? Trash. Wonder Woman and Aquaman appearances? Overstuffed. Superman as a potential antagonist? Ridiculous.
Meanwhile, a Marvel movie with roughly 38 superheroes — one of whom is played by a former Hollywood punchline — made $188 million dollars in three days.
Back to Suicide Squad. Remember how the Internet reacted to the infamous Joker photo? Feedback was, uh, less than constructive.
Now, check out the response to Monday’s leaked Captain America: Civil War concept art. Remember, concept art is nothing more than drawings used to provide filmmakers with a rough idea of how a finished product might look.
Two superheroes running at each other equals ZOMG THIS FUCKING MOVIE IS GOING TO BE THE DICKTITS!!1!1!! Same pointless snap judgment. Far more optimism.
Of course, Marvel’s products may prove superior to their DC counterparts. The studio delivers profitable, well-made films on a consistent basis that please longtime fans and young converts alike, and their track record merits a long leash. It’s entirely possible that Civil War is 2016’s best film while Suicide Squad becomes cinematic Ebola. But we don’t know yet.
For every DCU red flag, there are bright spots. Superman as an all-powerful deity who inspires devotion and derision is a fascinating concept with rich narrative possibilities. The idea behind Suicide Squad — a government agency recruits deadly villains for a dangerous mission — is stone cold awesome. DC nabbed huge stars for BvS and Suicide Squad, and the studio seems to have given them at least one great script to work from.
This isn’t to say the early criticism is wholly unfounded. Picking apart costumes is fair game. Extrapolating a film’s quality based on those costumes, though, is patently absurd. You know what other comic book characters look stupid when ripped from the page? All of them. Ever pass a guy on the street wearing a Captain America outfit or a flowing red cape? You’re giving them a wide fucking berth because they look insane.
Drawing sweeping conclusions from images and teasers serves no one. Let’s see how these films turn out before writing their obituary. At the very least, a little restraint now might prevent significant embarrassment in the future.