Despite clearly trying its hardest not to, Suicide Squad feels just like a Marvel movie. It’s hubris to think that anyone can make a film about superheroes (or villains) teaming up to defeat a big bad without at least being reminiscent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, this movie is about bad guys and Marvel’s are about good guys, but in order to create something that stands out, a filmmaker has to avoid the familiar elements that Marvel has essentially baked into its films at this point. Even DC diehards can admit that there are plenty of ways Suicide Squad feels like a Marvel movie – from it’s giant swirling vortex to its soundtrack of solid gold oldies.
Just by looking at the number of Marvel movies, it’s clear Suicide Squad can’t avoid falling into the narrative pitfall of repeating something from at least one Marvel film. But there are so many Marvel Studios clichés in Suicide Squad that it makes you wonder whether or not writer-director David Ayer took too much inspiration from The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Even though Suicide Squad is very concerned with establishing a tone that’s much darker than anything in the MCU, it still feels like Tony Stark could show up at any moment and start cracking wise.
The Giant Sky Portal
The Classic Rock Soundtrack
The difference between the two films is that the Guardians soundtrack provides insight into a character and feels novel against a sci-fi backdrop, while the music of Suicide Squad demands that you feel a certain way without investigating what the music is supposed to mean.
Joker’s minions in Suicide Squad are a bunch of pipe-hitting thugs wearing panda masks and it’s awesome. Somewhat grounded villains could really help set this one apart, but even with an endless amount of lowlifes at its disposal, the movie borrows digital cannon fodder from another film.
The Mid-Credits Scene
Credits sequences certainly aren’t the intellectual property of Marvel, but the studio has done a lot of work to convince audience that they should stick around until the lights have gone up and the ushers are sweeping the popcorn. Including such a scene in Suicide Squad can only come across as derivative.
Shadowy Government Figures
It’s also worth mentioning that both Suicide Squad and Civil War imprison their heroes in government black sites. You’d think that even if there’s no way around having a movie where somebody’s stuck in a prison, you could at least make sure no one says “government black site” just like in Civil War.
The Neverending Boss Fight
Suicide Squad could have differentiated itself by approaching the final boss fight from a new direction, but instead it just sticks with the same old shtick.
Wacky Character Introductions
You’d think that this would pay off, but we don’t get character moments later in the film that are necessary to build on what we already know.
Evil Brother-Sister Dynamics
In Suicide Squad, Enchantress’s relationship to her brother (who might just be named “Brother”) is strikingly similar to the dynamic between Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Not only is she a telekinetic/psychic baddie, but her brother is almost like a combination of Ultron and Quicksilver who happens to dish out vengeance in the name of familial loyalty.
A Character Who Can’t Control Their Dark Side
Still, having a member of a super team be so uncontrollable that they’re a major thorn in their side seems like something the filmmakers would want to sidestep. It’s been such a popular part of the MCU, after all.
Scientists Are Useless Against Magic
The Reluctant Hero
At times in the film it almost feels like Will Smith is showing the folks at Marvel what they missed by not offering him the title role in The First Avenger.
The Hero Wants What He Can’t Have
This kind of will they/won’t they element is a too-familiar trope that, had it simply been ignored, would have gone a long way towards making Suicide Squad feel unique.
There’s an All-Powerful Evil
If David Ayer (and DC as a whole) wanted to differentiate themselves from Marvel, all they had to do was have a villain that was evil, but not an angry witch god with a half robot brother that looks like Thanos.
Suicide Squad Can’t Shake Its Familiar Feeling
Even though the tone of Suicide Squad sometimes feels like a movie from another era of superhero films, it never strays too far from that quippy yet world-weary feeling Marvel does so well.