The Suicide Squad: Do We Really Need More Adult Superhero Movies?

The Suicide Squad: Do We Really Need More Adult Superhero Movies?

The Suicide Squad

Even if "The Suicide Squad" has not been a huge hit at the box office so far, the film is at least qualitatively a hit. There is praise from all sides for the strong characterization of the main characters, the creative action sequences and the black humor typical of director James Gunn. The film brings a breath of fresh air into superhero cinema and shows what is possible when a studio lets a motivated filmmaker just do it.

I'm also pretty impressed by Gunn's latest prank. Especially in comparison to David Ayer's "Suicide Squad" from 2016, the interpretation of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" director seems effortlessly cool. The background music doesn't seem to have been put together by a committee of executives desperately trying to be hip. The characters are sometimes extremely ridiculous in their superpowers and other peculiarities, but still have understandable motives and emotions. And the portrayal of violence may be exaggerated and sometimes even quite cruel, but it is never tasteless. An all-round entertaining film. Still, I'm a little skeptical of the trend towards making superhero films more and more exclusively for adults.

That doesn't mean that I generally find the idea bad. On the contrary: the more freedom filmmakers get from the studio in their work, the better. I'm just not sure Hollywood will have the discipline not to repeat itself over and over again right away. I'm not talking about comic book adaptations in general, but especially about superhero stories.

Crossing borders according to scheme F

We already have a whole series of superhero films and series with the so-called R rating which corresponds to a release from the age of 17 in the USA. And I can already see the first signs of wear and tear there.

The Boys Source: JAN THIJS / AMAZON PRIME VIDEO The largest sub-category of these superhero franchises for adults is probably the genre deconstruction, ie stories that parody or comment on the superhero genre. These include Amazon's The Boys and Invincable, Deadpool, James Gunn's Super - Shut Up Crime, Brightburn, Kick Ass, and Watchmen, films that show exaggerated violence and decidedly unheroic ones Characters: Where "Deadpool" rather pokes fun at the conventions of the genre and uses its own antihero as a kind of comment track, "Brightburn", "The Boys" and "Invincible" pose the question of whether a reality in which some beings have superpowers , would not actually be a nightmare for everyone else. In "Kick-Ass" and "Super" there are no superpowers, but the decision to put on a costume and go on the hunt for criminals turns out to be silly, partly psychotic and in many ways Misguided in ways.

Perhaps the best-known work that falls into this category is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' "Watchmen." The highly political comic book was intended to set a new standard for storytelling in the medium can be. Although the book contains numerous highly disturbing scenes, the depictions of violence are fairly moderate apart from one scene towards the end. Nevertheless, "Watchmen" started a wave of dark comic stories in which superheroes were reinterpreted as brutal butchers. The adaptation of the work by Zack Snyder from 2007 is also a lot more stylish and bloodthirsty than the original and thus distorts one of its central themes. Instead of learning from the success of "Watchmen" that it is possible to tell more complex stories with superheroes, the comic industry only recognized that fucked up heroes are cool and that the label "for adults" sells well.

Deadpool Source: 20th Century Fox I have a feeling that something similar could be in store for us in superhero films.

Even after the release of "Deadpool", James Gunn himself suspected that in a Facebook post Hollywood would draw the wrong conclusions from the massive grossing of the film (via The Wrap). The real lesson is that risky ideas can pay off and there is nothing against giving a vulgar, violent spellbeater a vulgar, violent film. And just not that every superhero film should hit the same line in the future.

Just bloody, serious children's stuff?

Even if a reinterpretation of well-known characters is not always a bad idea, the staging should already fit the character in question. And it can really be up to me, but the more seriously the adaptation of a superhero comic tries to be, the more monkey I find it mostly in the end. There are certainly exceptions, such as the Christopher Nolan Batman films or the "X-Men" swan song "Logan", but it takes some craftsmanship to make me forget that Superman and Co. are all about Heroes are primarily intended to appeal to children.

Joker Source: Niko Tavernise / Warner Bros. Entertainment The whole concept of superheroes is basically a simple power fantasy and the designs of the characters are colorful and silly to the imagination to stimulate the target group. Which of course doesn't mean that adults can't have fun with it. But just because a villain like the Joker can be a symbol of incapacitated social classes, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a good idea to get him into a "King of Comedy" / "Taxi Driver" knockoff for his solo film ship.

"The Suicide Squad" has found the golden mean for me. The story may be simple, but it is enough to make a fun team-up movie. The violence is entertainment, of course, but it is not the only source of humor. If the movie were just a two-hour episode of Happy Tree Friends and its only selling point was "Superheroes, but parts of the body fly," the audience would likely lose interest quickly. Instead, James Gunn uses the breadth of silly characters in the Warner Bros catalog, the rampant action and his own sensibilities as a friend of outsiders to tell an original and coherent film - at least in terms of the staging. Unlike Deadpool, Gunn's characters are not tongue-in-cheek wise guys, but react to the outrageous developments of the story with incomprehension and naked horror. "The Suicide Squad" takes itself seriously enough not to be redundant.

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Too strange for the cinema

The fact that studios now dare to release such films - and with a decent budget on top of that - promises numerous new opportunities for filmmakers, but I don't quite believe that they will Variety of stories will actually increase. So far, not so much has been done to the R-Rating beyond the trends already described. The superhero films from Marvel Studios may be formulaic and, due to their divided universe, cannot make big leaps individually, but at least in the series "WandaVision" and "Loki" you can already see in the beginning which stories in the genre would be possible if you actually would Want to go beyond the scope. Warner, on the other hand, showed with "The Suicide Squad" that they would be able to do just that, but the joy of experimentation should not end with the portrayal of violence as soon as the director is not called James Gunn. The very simple story worked for "Deadpool" and "The Suicide Squad", but that shouldn't mean it should become the template for future movies.

HBO's Watchmen Source: HBO Entertainment The best examples of where the journey should go can actually be found here in the TV / streaming segment: Marvel's X-Men show "Legion" was not for everyone, but highly original and definitely not reserved when it comes to disturbing topics and images. And HBO / Warner's "Watchmen" series was also bursting with creative ideas. You can blame both works for a lot, but not formulaic.

In the film sector, however, the bottom line is still the conventional. The superhero adaptation I've been most excited to announce in recent years was Ava DuVernay's "New Gods," largely because comic book writer Tom King wrote the script. King's work in print is often phenomenal, not infrequently controversial and extremely well worth reading. His interpretations of characters like Mister Miracle, Vision and Batman are unconventional, but still anchored in the cartoons of the comics and give deep insights into the psyche of the heroes. King does not shy away from taboo topics and tragic developments, which makes his works seem predestined for a film adaptation aimed at adults.

Unfortunately, Warner pulled the plug on "New Gods" during the pre-production phase. That doesn't have to mean that there is no place for experimental films in the DC Universe, but I find it deplorable given the fact that most superhero adventures follow a similar structure. It would be nice if, in addition to the simple joys of "The Suicide Squad", there was also room for adult stories that break new ground in terms of narrative. I don't want to pick too much on "Joker", even if I didn't like the film itself at all. The fact that it even exists in this form shows a certain trust in the filmmaker's personal handwriting. But the bottom line is that you can't really call it a superhero film, but rather a drama with a comic look.

Courage to blood, but not automatically good

The Suicide Squad Source: Warner Bros. What I'm getting at is that "for adults" can - and should - mean something other than violence, fecal language and nihilism. As cool as these elements can be once the limit has been crossed, they simply won't surprise the next X times. Or, to answer the question from the headline: Yes, I am also pleased that superhero films do not necessarily have to be child-friendly, but only as long as the R-Rating itself does not become a limitation. Courage can also mean doing without exactly these elements.

Characters with an agenda other than "carry out the mission, stop the bad guys and save the world" usually only play the role of villain. But this would have the greatest potential for exciting stories. For example, "Venom" would have benefited enormously from leaving the generic opponent out and only concentrating on the relationship between Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and the symbiote. The Jeckyll and Hyde dynamic of the two practically screams for horror comedy elements in the style of "American Werewolf" or "Little Shop of Horrors". Ordinary gangsters are sufficient for the time being as external opponents. Should the character actually appear in an R-rated film at some point, I would at least think it would be nice if the duality of the character and her mental state were more in focus than just the same nerve-numbing action sequences again - only this time with blood.

If used correctly, brute force can enrich a film (see for example a masterpiece like "Robocop" compared to the bloodless remake from 2014), but it shouldn't be the only instrument in the orchestra.

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