Well the verdicts are in, and unless you have been hiding under a 'croc', you will know that the reviews for David Ayer's Suicide Squad are about as divided as the team itself.
When the neon and bright colors that the trailer promised were stripped away, we were left with a 130 minute romp through the sewers of Midway City. Whether it be the lack of Joker, Margot Robbie's comedic timing, or even the squad itself, we weren't quite feeling 'Squad Goals AF.' So, where did it all go wrong?
Unsurprisingly, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Killer Croc has come under fire, reduced to a hulking mass of prosthetics in the corner. Let's go back to the start and a different lineup, one which took the squad away from Killer Croc and Katana and leaned towards its New 52 roots. Would a revamped lineup have saved David Ayer's dip into DC? Here is the argument to how one character should have been allowed to take a 'bite' at the Suicide Squad and how we would have got a very different movie.
It Was All Going Swimmingly
For those who don't know, one of DC's more obscure foes, King Shark, was once set to join the team in Warner Bros's comic book Hateful Eight. Ayer recently told a Twitter Q&A:
One of the characters I was thinking about for the Squad line-up was actually King Shark. But we realized it would take a lot of work, a lot of CG work. I wasn’t quite comfortable having a full-CG character. We actually ended up going with Killer Croc, who turned out to be the right guy for the job
To be completely critical, excluding King Shark from Suicide Squad is a damn shame! The appearance, or even just an Easter egg alluding the finned foe could have nicely tied in with the Justice League film, or more importantly, Aquaman's solo-film. We shoehorned in an appearance of Ezra Miller's Flash, so where were the rest of the J.L. cameos?
Check out Movie Pilot's video round up off all the Suicide Squad Easter Eggs:
The Lost City of Atlantis
I'm not saying people aren't hyped to see Jason Momoa stick a tail on, but Aquaman isn't exactly DC's hottest property. In the comics, King Shark has more of a history with Superboy, but has also clashed with the King of Atlantis on more than one occasion. Premiering in 1994, it was until he appeared in Aquaman's "One Year Later" that King Shark (known as Nanaue) was given a proper backstory - revealed to be the son of the Shark God.
Ayer's Suicide Squad was already Batman heavy, and I felt a little bummed to see another Batfleck crusade so close to both Batman v Superman and Justice League. Crucially, King Shark could not just have helped Suicide Squad, but significantly brought Aquaman into the rest of DC and given him the boost he needs.
52 is the Magic Number
With a lineup pretty much copied from DC's New 52, many were sure that King Shark would make a leap from the ocean and into Ayer's squad. Unfortunately the director veered slightly from the chosen path and adopted Killer Croc. Nanaue was notably present in the animated Assault on Arkham roster of the Suicide Squad, and I hoped this was where Warner Bros. would have taken Croc.
Directed by Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding, Assault on Arkham is personally one my favorite DCAU outings, giving even King Shark time to flex his muscles. The animated King Shark develops a twisted romance with Killer Frost (also missing from Suicide Squad) - first clashing with the team, then redeeming himself, and finally bowing out in a 'head-popping' scene.
Whilst the characters of a shark and crocodile are completely different entities, both were portrayed in their Suicide Squad outings as man-eating water-dwellers there to provide muscle. Ayer and Akinnuoye-Agbaje could have taken some amazing influences from this for Suicide Squad's Croc, but instead we end up with a rubbery pinecone with one liners.
A Flash in the Pan
Away from the Arkham,King Shark had also previously appeared in CW's The Flash in undoubtedly one of TV's greatest scenes. We know that The Flash had its Suicide Squad storyline cut short due to a *erm* clash with Warner Bros's cinematic version. Other elements of the universe will be cashing in on the success of Suicide Squad - it has already been confirmed that both Harley Quinn and Killer Croc will be slithering their way from the silver screen to our homes at some point to feature in Warner Bros's Gotham, which is probably thanks in no small part to the hype of Suicide Squad. Meanwhile, King Shark still lurks in the depths of the DC villain vault, with no news on whether he will be back on The Flash. With the storyline seemingly at an end, we fear that ship has sailed!
As for King Shark swimming from small screen to big screen, many expected to see boxer/Resident Evil star Raymond Olubowale's cast in the role for Suicide Squad. Checking with his IMDb, it confirmed that when it came to watching Suicide Squad, there was no sign of the man, dubbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in the squad, or even the film. Imagine watching King Shark and Killer Croc clash, for one of them to suddenly have their head popped by Waller...now think "wow, Warner Bros. missed that one".
The Final Cut
Perhaps we're being a little too harsh on everyone involved. Personally I didn't hate Suicide Squad, but I felt it spent too long exploring the past and not enough exploring the present. Coupled with that, we never got any Killer Croc backstory, other than he thought he was 'beautiful'. Amongst the rumored cut scenes (along with enough Leto material to make a Joker standalone) was Croc in Gotham, attempting to rise as a mob boss before being taken down by Batfleck.
However, the most annoyingly cut sequence is a reported scene on the chopper - here Croc throws up a half digested goat leg, before re-devouring it to the disgust of the others. Some much needed comic timing as well as a nod to Jurassic Park...why on earth would you cut that?! Further problems arise when you look at the Suicide Squad poster to realize Croc was little more than an afterthought - tucked away in the far corner, even Slipknot (yes him) features more prominently in the promotional poster!
Down in the Sewers
Suicide Squad's 'afterthought' Croc is your average-sized gangster who wears velour tracksuits and calls people 'shawty' to appeal to 'Generation X'. The Croc I grew up with was the super-sized creature who struck fear into Batman's heart.
Some of Croc's most recent outings provide two prime examples of Croc at his best. Waylon Jones featured in the superb Arkham games, and even got his own DLC in the final Arkham Knight. However, for a real taste of how Croc should be, turn to (above) Batman: Gotham Knight. In this twisted anime film, Croc is a cannibalistic serial killer who bites Batman during a Scarecrow fueled fear attack. Abandoned in the sewers by his mother due to suffering with epidermolytic hyperkeratosis, this is how Killer Croc should be handled!
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'Jaws' For Thought
Even though Suicide Squad is far from perfect, it was only the beginning. Look how 2000's X-Men grew to the superb X2 in 2003 and carefully weaved new members like Nightcrawler into the mix. Aesthetically it was fantastic to have Akinnuoye-Agbaje in full costume, avoided the generic CGI route, but surely they could have found a way to incorporate King Shark in the same way - if Comic-Con can do it, why can't you?
So, what is next for Nanaue then? With further Suicide Squad films planned and an ever expanding universe, we are confident that there is room in Belle Reve for the 'King' of the ocean. At least if not in Suicide Squad, then it would make sense for Aquaman to tackle one of DC's most nautical foes some time soon. Sadly, in all likelihood, King Shark is relatively low down the list of Aquaman enemies who will be featured in James Wan's solo surf-film — You can bet money on Black Manta popping up.
I don't know about you, but I went into Suicide Squad not only expecting something bigger from Croc, but something better. There is no denying that the makeup on Akinnuoye-Agbaje was spectacular, but it also means anyone could have been cast in the role. A long way from his days on Oz and LOST, you couldn't help but feel that the actor was slightly 'lost' under his costume.
As for Croc's return, we left him pretty happy at the end of the film, so should he come back? If the big K.C. is to return for the inevitable Suicide Squad sequel, a revamp is needed. Some backstory, a family, a sob story - something to get us on side with the giant reptile. Where Suicide Squad flourished was by getting us to root for the bad guys; with so little Croc-time, you never really got to do that. A re-imagined Diablo and a sympathetic Deadshot stole the show from the rest of the cast, whilst Croc became background fodder. Not a read, just some helpful advice...I am going to post my copies of the Arkham games over to Ayer as we speak alongside a penned letter - to quote a rather famous shark film..."just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water."