This August, Suicide Squad will cap the summer blockbuster season and continue the 2016 trend of anti-superhero adaptations with an eclectic cast of action stars, supermodels, and Oscar winners playing dangerous criminals assembled for black ops missions in exchange for reduced or expunged sentences. The upside: the magnificent David Ayer (Training Day, End of Watch) directs from his own screenplay adapted from John Ostrander's comic book, Oliver Scholl’s gonzo production design looks amazing, and Kate Hawley’s costumes will inevitably be copied by every coquettish sorority girl in the nation come Halloween. The downside: as of now, the movie has a PG-13 rating - can it live up to its Dirty-Dozen-meets-Escape-From-New-York promise of a darker, deadlier team of misfits out to save the world?
Luckily, Jared Leto, who plays the infamous Joker, has been ensuring the cast as well as the film’s publicity team that he takes his role very seriously. From staying in character between takes to gifting his costars with both live and dead animals, Leto’s Joker draws from both classic and modern portrayals of the character to give his rendition a fresh veneer of insanity. His measures were successful in creeping out castmates who gave him a wide berth but also assuaged dubious fans who wondered if anyone could ever again assume the green hair and face paint and make the character their own.
Oof, August is such a toss-up month for releasing films. There are two times a year when studios generally dump the projects they have little faith in or have shelved for years: January-February, and August-September. Still, it can be an opportune time to let a gem shine amidst the rubble (as with The Silence of the Lambs in February 1991 or Inglourious Basterds in August 2009), or have a surprise hit in the doldrums before the annual Academy Awards, as Deadpool proved last weekend (after nine days of wide release, the R-rated feature is just shy of earning $500 million worldwide). From the positive reception of the first trailer at San Diego Comic Con last summer to additional stills and trailers in the remaining months of 2015, both the publicity campaign and word-of-mouth from fans has kept excitement high, and Leto and company look like they could prove a viable antidote to glossier hero teams like the Avengers.