In spite of being one of the heads of DC Studios — except for upcoming spinoffs like Peacemaker Season 2 and Waller — James Gunn has remained relatively silent about the future of any direct sequels to 2021’s The Suicide Squad. I hope that this is because he has come to believe, as I have, that the story of this team would work better as a streaming series on Max for one reason: To get the most out of this franchise, you need to let the bad guys be bad guys.
In other words, while it’s left unsaid, the point of both films is for these characters to graduate from supervillainy to superheroism, which ruins the entire novelty of a film featuring bad guys as protagonists.
In the cases of both 2016’s Suicide Squad and Gunn’s crack at the property, the movies had to end the same way–with the leashed supervillains of Task Force X setting aside their own self-preservation to become heroes.
Bloodsport’s daughter Tyla (Storm Reid) watches the final battle on TV and finally feels pride for her father as he risks his life for the people of Corto Maltese. In fact, the doomed Polka-Dot Man’s (David Dastmalchian) shouted last words are “I’m a super hero!”
In other words, while it’s left unsaid, the point of both films is for these characters to graduate from supervillainy to superheroism, which ruins the entire novelty of a film featuring bad guys as protagonists. In its final moments The Suicide Squad becomes, ultimately, no different than Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy.
That’s out of necessity, of course. Warner Bros. wouldn’t have green lit either Suicide Squad film if they ended with the main characters failing to be good guys. You can’t sell a big budget action flick with the protagonists going bad or, in the case of most of the Suicide Squad members, just plain staying bad.
But a TV series? Now that’s a different animal.
Imagine a Suicide Squad TV series with the members of Task Force X going out on different missions, ultimately returning to their accommodations at Belle Reve, navigating that Machiavellian machinations of Amanda Waller, and waiting to see who dies next. Fans would have their “heroes” who they’d be praying would survive, the ones they’d be cheering on to die, and then the ones they’d be hoping would show up in guest appearances.
Who would die? Who would be redeemed? Who would become Amanda Waller’s loyal pet? Who would try to escape Belle Reve? Who might succeed?
Part of what makes the Suicide Squad comics so great is that, yes, while some members of Task Force X see themselves as heroes, plenty of them have every intention of remaining the same murderers they always have been. In fact, Task Force X’s infamously high body count is in part not because of the enemies they face, but because of treachery within the ranks.
Remember when Captain Boomerang (Jai Courney) tells Slipknot (Adam Beach) he thinks the explosives in their heads aren’t real, and Slipknot tests the theory with fatal results? The same thing happens in the comics, except in the source material it’s much more blatant that Boomer purposely manipulates Slipknot into killing himself.
Imagine if Joker had ended with Arthur Fleck redeeming himself. Who the hell wants to watch something like that?
In the comics it isn’t Starro who kills the Thinker (Peter Capaldi), but instead his teammate Weasel who rips out his throat. In the second issue of the team’s first ongoing series, Boomer lets one of his teammates get shot and killed from behind because she humiliated him in the previous issue.
This isn’t to say that all a series needs to be engaging is murder and mayhem, but that a Suicide Squad show would have more storytelling potential. Rather than having characters like Bloodsport and King Shark do some darkly funny things for an hour and a half before learning valuable after school special lessons so they can be “real” heroes, you could see these characters needing to interact every week.
Who would die? Who would be redeemed? Who would become Amanda Waller’s loyal pet? Who would try to escape Belle Reve? Who might succeed? And in the meantime, what fan-favorite villains might waltz in and out of the show?
It may never happen and if not, that’s fine. I just think there’s some great potential in telling supervillain stories that allow the characters to be what and who they are. Imagine if Joker had ended with Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck redeeming himself. Who the hell wants to watch something like that?