Brief Thoughts on a Trailer: The Suicide Squad (2020)

Preamble

DC Comics has been quite prominent recently with the release of Zack Snyder’s eagerly anticipated cut of Justice League. I saw it. While I enjoyed it immeasurably more than Joss Whedon’s tinkered 2017 version, I’m still not quite sure what to make of it. Part of this comes from the film being a distillation of Snyder’s aesthetic for the entire genre. With this in mind, I’m not sure how I quite feel about his approach to the DC movies. So, without that much needed context, I feel I could not properly comment on his final bow to the DC extended universe.

The timing of the first trailer for The Suicide Squad could not be more perfect. As the warm reception for the Snyder cut continues to ablaze social media, more calls have been made for Snyder to finish his vision for the DC movies. At the same time, there have also been requests for the legendary “Ayer Cut” of Suicide Squad (2016) to finally see the light of day. While Warner Bros has formally rejected this call, the release of this trailer is a line being firmly drawn in the sand, for the studio’s forward looking stance for the anti-hero team.

Before I get on to my brief thoughts, what did you think of the film’s first trailer? Let me know in the comments below.

Brief Thoughts

At their very core, trailers are supposed to intrigue and sell you on buying a movie ticket. Perhaps more than any trailer in recent memory, the preview for Suicide Squad did this in spades for audiences. Set to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the sneak peak was a hyperkinetic, stylish and irreverent showcasing of its characters and world. The trailer was so influential that it shaped much of the subsequent reshoots of the film to make it more like the preview. This was a far cry from the more sobering and starker Comic Con trailer that released several months earlier.

With this context in mind, the trailer for The Suicide Squad is an altogether different in what it’s trying to sell. While the preview has many striking shots, I feel it attempts to give the audience a sense of the writing (via the encounters that various members have with one another).

It also puts the director (James Gunn) front and centre, with his name being prominently shown in front of an American flag. This moment that features many of the team members walking and making silly gestures is my favourite scene of the trailer. On the one hand, it encapsulates James Gunn’s knack for goofy irreverence with the scene parodying typical group walking shots. At the same time, it’s a tantalising glimpse of Gunn’s approach for the film.

One of his previous films was called Super (2011) and it featured the same kind of homemade absurdity that made Kick-Ass (2010) an interesting outlier in the genre. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies were big budget space operas where you could see the money on the screen. Some of the images from The Suicide Squad trailer, have the quality of seeing someone that happened to dress up as a superhero for their weekly shopping trip. This even extends to some of the more outlandish characters that are shown to be terrifying and adorable (King Shark).

This sew-saw between sincerity and irreverence has kept me at arms length with Gunn’s Marvel efforts. But the balance here seems quite apt, given the concept of the team; who are redshirts that society (at large) don’t like. The trailer was certainly intriguing and did not have the quality of manufactured coolness that the preview for the first film had. The Suicide Squad is due for release later this year on 6th August (in UK cinemas).

About Sartaj Govind Singh

Notes from a distant observer: “Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”
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