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.
Is there anything more Marvel than a villain opening a giant sky portal to do something evil? The only way this sky portal could have been more MCU is if Spider-Man had swung out of the center wearing an Iron Man shirt and saying "Excelsior!"
Nowhere is the influence of Guardians of the Galaxy clearer than Suicide Squad's soundtrack. Who would imagine that a goofy space adventure that featured music previously relegated to oldies stations and AM radio would strike such a chord with audiences? Nothing makes it more obvious that Suicide Squad is a feature created by committee than the classic tracks that accompany all of the major story beats.
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.
Argue all you want that Enchantress's globby minions are actually humans that have been transformed into anthropomorphic koosh balls. Not only do they bear more than a passing resemblance to the Chitauri in The Avengers, they also serve the same essential function: giving the "heroes" something to fight/show off their individual talents in a messily filmed action sequence.
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.
One of the easiest ways for DC to delineate themselves from Marvel is to say that when the movie is over and the credits are rolling, that's the end of the feature. Instead of doing that very simple thing, Suicide Squad includes a mid-credit scene where Bruce Wayne shows up to remind everyone about the upcoming Justice League movie. Don't worry Bruce, something tells us that we won't be able to avoid that particular film when it rolls around.
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.