Warner Bros. are trying to be relevant with their DC Extended Universe. Whether or not they're successful in that regard is debatable, but their plan is obvious; cash in on the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe using the already incredibly popular properties under their belt, such as Batman and Superman. This is a pretty obvious decision with perceivable benefits too great to pass up-- now that Warner Bros. no longer has Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight franchise to work with, they need a way to keep a consistent source of income, and what better way to do that than to put out a new movie in a series twice every year? Unfortunately, the DCEU started with the incredibly divisive Man of Steel, which didn't meet box office expectations and got a fair amount of flak both from casual viewers and long-time Superman fans, who were either bothered by the tiresome pace, the needlessly grim interpretation of the character, or the heavy-handed approach to its themes. However, I also don't believe the film's myriad flaws are anything inherent to Warner Bros. A large amount of problems with the movie were common to director Zack Snyder, whose work has, somewhat justifiably, been criticized by many as being shallow and edgy.
To clarify, I don't necessarily hate Snyder's work. His Dawn of the Dead remake and adaptation of Frank Miller's 300 both worked fairly effectively as incredibly stylish action films that established a distinct atmosphere for his films. Problems started popping up in 2009 when he created an ambitious film version of the 1986 comic book series Watchmen, a book that had a reputation for decades as being "unadaptable." I do not believe anything is truly unadaptable, and there are many ways in which a film version of anything could theoretically be just as good as the original. However, with Watchmen, Zack Snyder's film did what I believe to be the cardinal sin of any adaptation: it dumbed down the source material. Though I welcome any alterations necessary to express the story in a different medium and hope for an artist to craft his own ideas into any work, adapted or original, the Watchmen film displayed what was clearly an attempt to somewhat faithfully interpret Alan Moore's masterpiece. Though the central narrative remained largely unchanged outside of some slight differences in the ending, the actual depth of the comic, the aspect that made it so famous to begin with, was totally gone. Although the same surface themes were approached, none of the nuanced symbolism and characterization appeared in the film. Furthermore, at two and a half hours in the theatrical release, it was overly long and wore down the patience of many viewers, myself included. It's made even worse in the five hour Ultimate Cut, which attempts to adapt the book even closer but just ends up making its shortcomings even more apparent.
The failures of Watchmen are truly microcosmic of the failures of Zack Snyder as a whole, and they were increased tenfold with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, an attempt at adapting two of the most famous comic book stories of all time, The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman, in a single film. These are two stories that never had anything to do with each other and express totally different ideas, and the attempt at connecting them leads to a narratively and thematically confusing movie without any cohesion. Where Watchmen was polarizing and controversial, Batman v Superman was met with nearly universal disapproval. Critics hated it, and, despite being initially popular, its box office earnings dropped massively after its opening weekend. The Ultimate Cut, which adds thirty minutes of new footage, attempted to salvage the film, but, though widely accepted as a better version, it also made an already long film even longer and even more poorly paced.
Suicide Squad, despite not being directed by Zack Snyder himself, bares a heavy mark of his influence in its aesthetic sensibilities and general approach to filmmaking. It's generally very dark from a visual standpoint, drenched in excessive shadows, which unfortunately makes the movie boring to look at and hard to follow during the already poorly shot and choreographed action sequences. These scenes generally don't bother with clarifying where any of the characters are in relationship to each other and use constant cuts in an attempt at making it seem fast and intense despite the much more boring content of the actual action.
Although Snyder's impact is apparent, it is also heavily masked by editing done after Batman v Superman's negative reception led to a change in approach to the DCEU, the general trajectory of the series now being largely in the hands of comic writer Geoff Johns. This has caused a major shift in the tone for the series, changing from the dark and brooding approach that Zack Snyder's two previous films used to an attempt at being lighthearted and entertaining in the vein of the MCU. Suicide Squad had the bad luck of landing in the middle of this shift, and as a result its tone is totally confused. Although much of the film tries to be as grim as the franchise's previous installments, such as with much of the plot tied to characters Deadshot and El Diablo, music is played over many of their scenes that seems to imply a similar form of comedic character interaction to that which was used in Guardians of the Galaxy. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, it uses classic rock songs heavily in order to exploit audience familiarity and the fun atmosphere often intended by their musicians, but, unlike Suicide Squad, Guardians of the Galaxy tied this soundtrack choice into one of its character's personalities, building the music directly into the narrative and tone of the film. Suicide Squad uses its music as a replacement for having a fun script and direction, effectively making its soundtrack background noise for dull, tiresome film.
Although I doubt it would have been good either way, I feel that Suicide Squad wouldn't have been quite so terrible if it was produced with a single consistent vision in mind. Instead, the film we got took the worst elements of both ideas and combined them. It is an obvious victim of studio butchering and changing hands, as made obvious by its bizarre pacing. The film opens with a tedious and poorly written dossier-style character introduction scene that does nothing to explain its characters' origins or personalities beyond the most obvious elements that are made obvious through the rest of the film anyway. Multiple main characters, such as Killer Croc, Katana, and Slipknot do absolutely nothing of any importance at any point in the film, implying that there was likely a more ambitious story planned that was heavily trimmed to be more palpable for a mainstream audience. It is a film that, in its attempts at broad appeal, succeeds in no possible fields. It's too boring to be simple fun, but it's too shallow and underwritten to be intelligent. It's a comedy with barely any jokes and an action movie with barely any action. Suicide Squad is utterly pointless.