With Suicide Squad hitting cinemas on Friday 5th August, I’m celebrating by posting blogs that fill in the blanks of the DC movie universe.
It’s a relief to see that Warner Bros. is finally listening. They debuted the first Wonder Woman and Justice League trailers at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, and both worked hard to distance themselves from the gloom of Batman v Superman. Tipping melodrama overboard, the latter focuses on humour instead. The result is a very different DC universe. It seems to be an admission that this is a world we should enjoy, not psychoanalyse; the source material features a flying dog, after all. It can be a pretty goofy place.
Thankfully, that sense of whimsy isn’t limited to one-liners. It also extends to the films’ mythology. For starters, Suicide Squad features a sword which absorbs the souls of its victims. It’s starring a cannibalistic man-crocodile, too. Then there’s Wonder Woman. Alien heritage and riches don’t cut it for this superhero; she was brought to life by Zeus, King of the Greek gods. Although it might come off as a throwaway line in her trailer (especially due to Chris Pine’s reaction), that’s a pretty big deal when you stop and think about it. This is a place where hard-drinking, vengeful, motherf—–g deities aren’t just a legend.
More to the point, it’s a divorce from the pseudo-science which defined Man of Steel. Rather than shoring up leaps of logic with technobabble, we’re now getting someone known for hurling lightning bolts at those who ‘displeased and defied him’. Indeed, the gods’ influence is hard to ignore because of the Amazons (Wonder Woman’s people). According to DC President Geoff Johns, they’re a race created through divine intervention to protect humanity.
Marvel beat their rivals to the punch in this regard with Thor, but these higher powers add a unique spin on the formula. Rather than benevolent (if cantankerous) deities who protect the innocent, the Greek pantheon is made up of phenomenally capricious sods. Zeus himself was a lecherous cheat, siring over 100 children with almost as many women. He’s joined by a long-suffering wife, Hera. Although it’s entirely reasonable to be cheesed off at your husband for cheating, murdering his mistresses or turning them into monsters might verge on overkill. Worse, she hurled her infant son Hephaestus out of heaven because he had the misfortune of being ugly.
Fortunately for those living in the DC universe, these aren’t gods in a traditional sense. If the comics are anything to go by, they’re not unlike Thor’s Asgardians. A highly advanced alien culture, they possess technology far beyond our understanding. In fact, digging through their convoluted backstory suggests less than divine origins. ‘Extra-dimensional’ beings created by what is essentially a second Big Bang (dubbed the Godwave), they’re the latest in a long line of entities that have been vying for control of the universe since the dawn of time. The Greek pantheon is actually one of many who exist outside of time and space. Justice League’s villain Steppenwolf is another example.
NOTE – SPOILERS FOR SUICIDE SQUAD FOLLOW.
Judging by comments from Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad, Enchantress is as well. A demon ‘from another dimension’, she’s well over 6000 years old. Like Zeus, this deity is something of a PR disaster; the character’s inspiration is an embodiment of lust, as suggested by Screen Rant. This explains her ludicrously skimpy outfit and provides context for Enchantress making minions by snogging them (no, I’m not saying either of these were good ideas).
No matter their identity, these beings could shed light on a personal bugbear of mine. Why do humans and aliens look the same in DC’s universe? Kryptonians are identical to us despite having evolved light years away, and that’s not just odd. It’s outright bizarre. But if humanoid gods such as Zeus and co. have been pulling the galaxy’s strings for millennia, they might be the common ancestor I’ve mentioned before.
The question is, where’ve they been in the years since? These films are supposed to occur in ‘our’ world, so Zeus’ dysfunctional family must have taken a backseat since the days of Ancient Greece (according to a set visit by Screen Rant, they helped defend humanity against Steppenwolf’s army thousands of years ago). I mean, they weren’t exactly falling over themselves to stop Zod during Man of Steel. Perhaps they’ve given up on humanity like the Amazons are supposed to have done.
It’s equally unclear how they’ll be handled in upcoming movies. Warner Bros. are left with two choices; they can embrace this kooky part of DC history or keep things vague to avoid writing themselves into a corner. Both approaches have merit, but I’d hope their newfound sense of fun will help them opt for something a little more fantastical.