So, what do you think of the new Suicide Squad pictures Empire recently revealed as limited-edition magazine covers? Jared Leto’s The Joker is wearing sweat pants and no shirt…for some reason. Cara Delevingne’s The Enchantress looks like a nearly naked, grown-up version of the girl from The Ring. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn kind of has a crazy stripper thing going on, and Will Smith’s Deadshot looks like the most intense Laser Tag player ever (well, other than Barney Stinson).
I don’t necessarily like or dislike the pictures; I’m still adjusting to what exactly David Ayer and his production team are doing with this movie. I’ve learned from the X-Men: Days of Future Past fiasco that not liking the way a character looks in an Empire magazine cover doesn’t mean you won’t like the way that characters looks in the actual context of the movie. However, from the moment that director Ayer started teasing photos from the set of Suicide Squad I’ve been surprised with what I’ve seen. The costumes and production design on display don’t resemble any other comic book movie in recent memory, nor does it always even resemble the actual Suicide Squad comics. Instead, it all has an oddly 90s look, specifically the video game and comic book movies of that era, just with a couple extra layers of grime.
Still, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a comic book movie which looked so intentionally trashy, specifically with the character designs. For example, the Joker:
If someone told me they had drawn a series of pictures imagining what Batman characters would look mashed up with the old HBO prison series Oz I’d imagine the Joker coming out like that, and maybe that’s exactly what Ayer and company were going for since this version of the Joker will probably have spent time in prison.
I’ve been at a loss for how to properly describe all of this, though, until earlier today when I saw the picture of Delevingne as The Enchantress. Suddenly, it hit me – Suicide Squad is going to be the Rob Zombie version of a superhero movie (technically, Rob Zombie’s own The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is the Rob Zombie version of a superhero movie). The rocker-turned-director has carved out a unique corner of cinema, filling his movies with the types of long-haired, crazy-eyed guys and sexually adventurous gals you might see at, well, a Rob Zombie concert. He delivered his take on the backwoods horror movie genre with House of 1000 Corpses and its follow-up, The Devil’s Rejects. Then he rebooted Halloween, recasting Michael Myers as something closer to a trailer park kid with a stripper for a mother. His animated comedy The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009) involved stripper/super spies, Nazis and mad scientists, and The Lords of Salem was an ode to vinyl records and…scary white-faced guys with long hair.
For better or worse, you can generally tell a Rob Zombie movie from just a single scene if not single shot. There are usually strippers, clown masks and the type of grime you can’t easily wash off. The bad guys are the heroes, white trash is king and the R-rating reigns supreme.
What David Ayer is doing with Suicide Squad has more variety than all that, and there’s no way WB lets it get an R rating. The costumes we see in the trailer aren’t nearly as bright as they appear in these Empire covers. However, the Suicide Squad is shaping up to be the comic book genre’s walk on the wild side. I don’t know if it will work, but I appreciate that there’s a clear style at play here, even if I keep looking at Jared Leto’s Joker and thinking, “WTF?”:
Suicide Squad is due out August 5, 2016.