It's fair to say that DCEU's decision to bring Gotham City Sirens to life is a good, albeit risky one. On one hand, Sirens will bring fan loved characters like Catwoman, Poison Ivy and #HarleyQuinn together on the big screen for the first time. On the other, #DC will have to make sure that this project doesn't suffer the from the same critical disparage of #SuicideSquad and #BatmanvSuperman. Can GCS beat the odds and become a hallmark for future #superhero films? And what exactly does it need to beat the odds?
It's Risky, In A Good Way
Say what you want about #DCEU, but one must admit that in a short time DC has managed to introduce a lot of characters. Ranging from moral and upright heroes like #Superman to twisted villains like Mr. J himself, DC's quickly filled the screen with a large number of comic book characters. Sure, some (or rather most) of them haven't been treated correctly; nonetheless, DC still soldiered on, ready to bring us an ongoing slate of upcoming films and TV series, even in the face of heavy criticism and frequent director departures.
As much as I'm critical of DC's decisions (Ezra Miller is still a disgrace as the Scarlet Speedster as far as I'm concerned), I'm proud to be among the legions of fans that support it, simply because it takes still takes risks. Despite all female-led superhero films usually flopping at the box office, DC agreed to go ahead with Gotham City Sirens.
Not only is the project different from others in terms of its team and its relationships, it's also the first time we'll get to see three female characters as leads in the superhero movie world. #Marvel, for all its braggadocio about being "the best superhero franchise," has still not managed to make a single female-led movie. In fact, it has consistently managed to sideline its female characters as mere love interests, despite a lot of them having rich comic book history. It's therefore quite fantastic that DC, despite constant criticism, is giving the go-ahead on films where even "the great" Marvel is hesitant. Marvel is hoping to remedy that with their upcoming #CaptainMarvel movie, but it doesn't take a lot to figure out that DC could very well be behind that. After all, the Russo Brothers very proudly proclaimed that they had no plans for Civil War until they saw that DC was going ahead with Batman v Superman.
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It Knows What Not To Do
DC's already shown that it has no problem overtly sexualizing its female comic book characters (if Harley Quinn's skimpy Suicide Squad outfit is any indication), and so it will have to do the "tough" job of selling the film based only on its concept and plot. Both Marvel and DC's foray into superhero films led by females weren't a success, with 2005's Elektra and 2004's Catwoman respectively still ranked as the worst from each franchise. Catwoman's blatant objectification of the character and derivation from comics, and Elektra's whitewashing and dullness in general, are tropes that need to be avoided.
Yet, since then we've had some badass heroines on the big screen, from early successes like Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films, to Kate Beckinsale-led Underworld series. We've also had some fierce heroes in the form of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games and Tris from Divergent. This means that time is ripe for DC to outshine Marvel by making a film Marvel's failed to do. Luckily for DC, the upcoming #WonderWoman film will be enough to tell us where and what can work and needs to be avoided. A close examination of the aforementioned hits will provide DC writers with the perfect recipe for a hit. If done right, Gotham City Sirens could be nothing like we've seen before.
It Could Change The Critics' Mind
To say that at this point critics are dubious about DC's future would be a great understatement. It's almost like they hate it and want it to die a slow and painful death. This isn't solely my view, but also of Suicide Squad comic writer John Ostrander:
“I know some of the critics, both in print and online, do not like the movie. That’s OK; everyone has a right to their own opinion even when it’s wrong. My problem is that, at least with some of the media reviews, is that the critic is also tired of superhero and ‘tentpole’ films and, overtly or covertly, would like to see their end. Look, I get it — they have to see all the films out there and they must be tired of all the blockbusters. If every superhero film is not 'The Dark Knight,' they’ll b*****. I think that’s going on here to a certain degree. Just as I came prepared to love the movie, they came prepared to hate it.”
If one goes through a lot of reviews of the film, you'll notice a similarity: a lot of them talk generically about superhero films, with comments about how there was too much violence and the story was predictable, which was strange because a lot of Marvel movies feature the same tropes. I'm not defending Suicide Squad here but rather pointing out that a lot of the criticism hurled at the #DCEU feels like kids bullying the new kid in school. Sure, DCEU's got a lot of issues, but let's not mix criticism with our hate for superhero genres.
At the end of the day it all falls down to execution, where Snyder's wasn't appealing on both occasions. There is hope that the director of GCS could come up with something worthy of the critics. Gotham City Sirens has an unusual concept and a brilliant lead. There's a strong possibility that GCS could really change the way people and critics perceive DCEU. A good sign is David Ayer publicly admitting how he messed up Suicide Squad:
"Wish I had a time machine. I’d make Joker the main villain and engineer a more grounded story. I have to take the good and bad and learn from it. I love making movies and I love DC ... I have to give the characters the stories and plots they deserve next time"
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It Could Win Fans' Hearts
DC's relationships with fans, on the other hand, has been tumultuous. While fans have embraced casting choices like Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot, they have been quite vocal in their dislike of Affleck (which has really died down after BvS) and Miller (which might never die down, simply because Ezra Miller is a clear wrong fit in terms of comic book accuracy). Fans have been supportive of endeavors like bringing Task Force X to life, yet been against the (mis)use of the same characters (Slipknot in Suicide Squad, Superman in BvS) by the DC execs.
Gotham City Sirens is a risk, simply because it has a lot going on. Not only are we to like these antiheroes and root for them, but we're also supposed to be invested in their relationships despite knowing that they most probably won't mean anything. For example, the Harley-Ivy arc in Gotham City Sirens, despite being loved by fans, has never really had an ending, with Harley always somehow choosing Joker over Ivy. This really doesn't do much to differentiate Quinn from every clingy female character created simply to pet some alpha guy's ego.
It Has A Lot To Offer
This brings me to my next point: Gotham City Siren's could be excellent in making a movie that showcases woman power at its finest. More than that, it could be a movie about three female characters that aren't tied defined by their relationships to male characters, thereby setting a standard for other female movies in general.
It could also serve as an emotional tale of three bad guys who've all suffered in one way or another and have all led tough lives. For Harley it's her constant abuse at the hands of Joker, for Selina Kyle (Catwoman) it's always living out in the streets and taking care of her younger sister (who's often depicted as an abuse victim or insane) and for Ivy it's being saddled with powers that do more harm than good.
Unlike Suicide Squad, there are fewer characters, so there's more room for a more intimate approach to each of them. It would be the first movie where we actually learn what forced these women to become who they were, as opposed to Suicide Squad that only provided the basics about their characters. The former is much more interesting as these characters ultimately ended up on the wrong side of the tracks.
As the success of Deadpool has proved, if your concept is refreshing and your script well written anything can work, and with Gotham City Sirens DC can easily step in the right direction.
Are YOU Excited For Gotham City Sirens?