DC’s “Suicide Squad” hasn’t even reached theaters and they are already planning sequels. DC has already announced that there will be a “Suicide Squad 2” and now the latest announcement is there is a Harley Quinn stand-alone movie in development. The former psychiatrist now poster girl for the “Hot and Crazy” archetype is getting her own movie with Margot Robbie continuing to reprise the character.
However, there is more to this news than meets the eye. This isn’t just any press release. There is a hidden message here whether it was intended by DC or not. A message that can be deciphered from the timing and the situation.
First: DC is absolutely positive that “Suicide Squad” will be a mega hit.
DC has done some strange things and they have their own way of doing things, but no movie executive plans sequels unless they believe in the original product. Granted, the Task Force X/Suicide Squad storyline is easy to get excited about. It’s “Dirty Dozen” meets superpowers essentially and it’s easy to just enjoy because who cares if the characters (all mass murderers) die. They are the definition of expendable.
The potential for scripts is off the chart. Seriously, as long as it’s done right, you can do 5-6 Suicide Squads as launching pads for all the DC freaky villains that have yet to make the movie screen. But potential is what it is. A chance. That’s where a fan should be slightly concerned.
DC was high on “Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice” and while I think Ben Affleck is the best Batman ever.
It doesn’t change the fact that many (more like most) movie critics gave negative reviews and the fan opinion was split with everyone mocking the “Martha” scene because they didn’t comprehend the gravity of the situation.
Now, Suicide Squad finished filming, then it went back to filming to add more “humor” to an otherwise dark movie. That’s concerning because they may be trying to be too much like Marvel with characters that are too dark or they are truly concerned the movie is too dark (which kills revenue because kids are tickets and nothing’s worse than a mother’s review).
This hasn’t deterred the executives at DC. They have pushed forward and announced their block of movies that will revolve around the Justice League the way Marvel created the Avengers. But Batman vs. Superman has hurt them. The movie at this point is short of $900 million and the hope; the goal was to get well over a billion in order to fully recoup their massive budget and finance the next movies.
If Suicide Squad fails however, there can be a definite change of plans across the board. So DC can be confident, but I think they were confident about Batman Vs. Superman too.
Second: DC is confident in their female characters that are better than Marvels.
If you ask a true feminist the question of “Marvel vs. DC” she will either say she hates both or she’ll pick DC because DC has made many strides with their female characters. Lois Lane is a household name unlike Sharon Carter, Betty Ross, or until recently, Pepper Potts.
Not only does DC win in the more memorable girlfriend department, they have created unique female characters that have garnered popularity. If “pure” and “twisted” are two sides of the same coin, then heads is Wonder Woman and tails is Harley Quinn; both of whom are going to have movies in the next few years.
Marvel can counter with Elektra (which was an awful movie) and the fact that they are making Black Widow stand-alone movie (Really guys? After six years and zero toys?), but it’s not as valid as DC. When Gal Gadot graced the screen in “Batman vs. Superman,” every man fell in love with her (except me but she grew on me) and no matter how bad the reviews I’ve read about the movie, she remains unblemished. Simply because they did such a great job with her character.
Third: DC thinks Harley Quinn is deep enough to host her own movie (and I think they’re wrong).
Comic-Cons are changing the way the movie industry operates due to the direct influence of the fans. In 2014, Fox and Marvel took note of all the people wearing Deadpool costumes and this past February, the fans were rewarded with a movie.
Beyond Deadpool, one character who I’ve never failed to see several times at any convention I’ve been to (I’ve been to five in two years) is Harley Quinn. She is without a doubt, especially with female characters, one of the most popular cosplay choices and a character that women gravitate towards.
DC is taking the hint and rewarding their love by making its own Harley Quinn movie. The question is can Harley Quinn be a dynamic enough character to warrant her own movie. Like Jennifer Garner’s Elektra, Harley is a fantastic scene stealer by nature. Yet what happened in the “Elektra” movie when it didn’t have Daredevil to produce the chemistry with?
It bombed is what happened. That’s the fear about Harley Quinn. She’s a strong enough character to enhance a show, but she can’t be the show. Granted, Harley’s had her own solo comics, but none of them have been as good as when she’s playing “Mr. J’s Girl” or something similar to it. Even in Suicide Squad, she’s not on her own.
From an interview with Will Smith who plays Deadshot, he stated that Harley and Deadshot are allies and the rest of the people are question marks. The trailers have also shown her to be more comic relief and sex appeal than anything else. Let’s not forget that Jared Leto is playing the Joker in the film as well. How large his role is has been hard to pin down, but I can’t imagine Leto’s appearance being a cameo (it has been reported to be a small role). Still, DC wants (or at least should want) the Joker, their top villain, in the present and future movies. So, that’s where everything gets challenging.
As a writer who has/is dabbling a little bit in the fiction realm, my feeling is this. Harley is the ultimate supporting character, but lead character? The first idea I get is to take the step of showing Harley’s story. Explore her background, her career etc. The problem there is her origin story is the Joker seduced her to crime. An origin story is impossible without including Jared Leto’s Joker (who I have a feeling will steal every scene he touches) because her character is tied to him. She’s his version of Robin for pity’s sake. There isn’t Robin movie, the last time I checked. Then mostly what happens is the movie turns into another Joker movie which defeats the purpose of a Harley movie.
So forget origin story. Where do you go from there? Harley isn’t deep. She uses an imitation of the Joker’s madness and her obsession with him to try and be “funny” which is the opposite of drama. In order to have a drama film about Harley, she has to be serious and she rarely is that. If she is serious, it’s almost a violation of her character.
Maybe a scriptwriter gets imaginative and limits the Joker’s presence, but I don’t see how a writer can do that when he is THE focal point of her origin and still make it a good movie that won’t make the fans angry. Let’s be clear. DC comic book fans destroyed Batman vs. Superman in many of their reviews. DC has to be careful about how they proceed and not change too much of the comic book material or else what fans will see is a perversion of the original work versus a great piece of art to enjoy. DC doesn’t just want fans to go once to the movies, but three, five, nine, even a dozen times from some of the hardcore lovers.
None of this is meant to suggest that Harley’s a bad character; more like she’s still a relatively young character. Her origin coming from Batman: The Animated Series from the 1990s. She hasn’t been featured in umpteen million comic books, she wasn’t even originally in comics. But her character, for some reason, is so popular that DC sees the potential for money with her.
If DC is smart and I think some of the executives definitely are, I think they will amend the title and make the movie not a stand-alone, but a DC version of Thelma & Louise by using Poison Ivy as the second woman. Double the fun and make it a girls’ night out kind of movie only with crimes and psychopaths.
Regardless of what they decide to do. It’s looking like Harley Quinn and Margot Robbie are going to be gracing our screens for a while.