Now, #WarnerBros' #SuicideSquad may not have been the most obvious candidate for rampaging cinematic success in 2016 — what with its reviews being abominable, and its immediate predecessor Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice disappointing at the #boxoffice — but that didn't stop it from going right ahead and making a ton of money anyway. The film has racked up $745 million worldwide, all from a production budget of around $175 million. What's more, with the international takings ($420 million) having been particularly impressive — something that can be tough for relatively unknown properties to manage — it's surely safe to say that the movie was, by at least one measure, a success.
Interestingly, though, it appears that at least one senior executive at Warner Bros. has taken an intriguing (and progressive) lesson from the film's success. Y'see...
Warner Bros. Executive Greg Silverman Believes Suicide Squad Succeeded Because Of Its Diversity
That, at least, is what Silverman, the President of Creative Development and Worldwide Production over at Warner Bros., recently told the Variety Inclusion Summit, revealing that:
"I think our movies have to be more diverse in front of and behind the camera, for a complete business imperative. That thee movies we make that are more diverse — have a more 'world-viewed' voice behind them — are more successful. The first one where we really pushed it was 'Suicide Squad,' and it's the most successful original piece of intellectual property in film of the year. And having Hispanic leads, and multiple African-American leads, and strong women in the cast, and having a voice — now, he [director David Ayer] happens to be a Caucasian guy, but he's from South Central [LA], and had a real intense passion for that Diablo character that Jay [Hernandez] played, and I thought that character was a real heart for the movie. My favorite performance — among the amazing performances — is by Viola in the movie, who the whole movie works because she is so fierce. Having that diversity made us play worldwide, to all ages, and all different kinds of people, and that's what we want — as many people, buying tickets, and getting moved by our content, as possible."
All of which is, albeit in a distinctly commercial context, pretty darned laudable. After all, there aren't too many studio executives out there who are explicitly stating that diversity is both the right thing to do from a representative standpoint and from a commercial one. So, while we could nitpick over whether a movie that put #JaredLeto's #Joker front and center in all of its marketing technically counts as an "original piece of intellectual property," it's tempting to just let Silverman have this one.
There is, however, a slight problem. Y'see...
Suicide Squad Arguably Wasn't As Diverse As Silverman Seems To Think
Or, rather, it very much was diverse, but perhaps not in quite the way everyone was hoping. After all:
- #MargotRobbie's #HarleyQuinn was a strong female character...who was entirely defined by her abusive relationship with a "more famous" male lead.
- Cara Delevingne's Enchantress was either entirely defined by her relationship with a male love interest, or (in her other form) by her relationship with her brother. And let's not even get started on that whole "not letting her wear clothes" thing.
- Karen Fukuhara's Katana was barely developed as a character, and was inexplicably put in a crop top for the whole movie.
- Jay Hernandez's El Diablo was an emotionally complex Latino guy...who was also a murderous gangbanger with anger issues.
- Adam Beach's Slipknot gets about two minutes of screen time, which rather gives the impression that the Native-Canadian actor was included to help with tax breaks.
- Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje's Killer Croc was a crocodile-monster, and therefore doesn't really count towards diversity.
- #WillSmith's Deadshot literally wore a '70s-style "pimp hat" at one point.
All of which sort of counteracts the general idea behind actual diversity, which is to not just rely on tokenism and stereotype, or to undermine, say, strong female characters by forcing them to adhere to a distinctly old-fashioned ideal of "passive, sexualized bad-assery." In other words, it's great that Suicide Squad opted for a whole lot of diversity in its casting, but it's a shame that the old-fashioned usage of the film's diverse cast was such a retrograde step. After all, that could well mean that the lesson #DC and Warner Bros. will take from its success won't necessarily be the one many of us are rooting for — with non-white, non-male and non-cis-gendered characters continuing to be given largely thankless (and often offensive) roles, but, y'know, more of them.
Though, on the flip side, Viola Davis was awesome as Amanda Waller. So there's that.
What do you think, though? Was Suicide Squad sufficiently diverse — and was the diversity it did have misused? Let us know below!