“Make ‘Em Laugh”

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

After nearly two weeks of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being panned as a grim, joyless slog, the website Birth.Movies.Death. reported last Friday that Warner Bros. is working to lighten up its next DC Comics flick, Suicide Squad – which will hit theaters on August 5. But while the timing of the news seems to suggest that the “tens of millions” of dollars being spent on reshoots is in reaction of the poor reviews of BvS, the fixes seem to have been in the works for at least a few weeks. 

According to a source that spoke to B.M.D.’s Devin Faraci, the studio requested some script rewrites and scene reshoots after the official trailer for the film – which dropped in January – received an extremely positive response. Set to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the preview apparently was not representative of the film at all: As the source told Faraci: “Every joke in the movie is in that trailer.”

But while the reshoots are designed to lighten up the film a bit – which centers on a ‘skwad’ of killers and misfits being used to conduct secret black ops missions for the government – it doesn’t sound like Warner Bros. is trying to completely emulate Marvel. As Polygon’s Julia Alexander notes, “there won’t just be additional jokes added to the movie, but the interactions between characters will be slightly goofier at times. Most importantly, however, is that the movie won’t take itself as seriously.”

Yet though I agree with the columnists that the reshoots are likely good news for the DC multiverse, I still can’t get over the fact that Warner Bros. put together a trailer that conveyed a completely different tone from the movie it was touting. Having a teaser that gives people some sort of sense of what they would be getting into seems like Movie Marketing 101 to me, and one would think that the executives at Warner Bros. wouldn’t really go for something that could mislead everyone looking forward to the movie.

On top of that, while I don’t doubt the professionalism of everyone involved, the film’s release date hasn’t changed, which means there are going to be some really fast turnarounds to get everything ready on time. Or at least I assume there will be since I actually have no idea what all goes into getting a film ready for distribution. As such, I can’t help but wonder if the added/revised scenes will stand out like sore thumbs, sort of like all of the updated scenes in the “special editions” of Star Wars.

Another side of this equation though, which my best guy friend S brought up, concerns what sort of tone we should even look for in a movie about a villainous hit squad. As Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn notes in the trailer, they’re bad guys, so wouldn’t the movie have a natural darkness to it? Especially since they’re specifically tasked with going out and, most likely, killing people? Shouldn’t that be played with a certain seriousness?

I get where he’s coming from and I do appreciate the fact that these movies, whether from DC or Marvel, have to maintain a delicate balance of being both realistic and fun. Too many jokes and the films can seem cavalier, especially considering the wanton destruction that often occurs. But be too serious, and audiences will feel assaulted by moody reflections on what exactly it means to be a hero. To be sure, I love the films that try to tackle these kinds of tough questions, and it’s not that all of our movies have to be happy-go-lucky – more we aren’t interested in paying $50 for two tickets and snacks to just be bombarded with dark, depressing scenes.

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