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Online Trends

Published August 4th 2016

A Year of Hype: What the Data Says About the Fate of Suicide Squad

The Brandwatch React team analyzes conversations surrounding new movie Suicide Squad. Will criticism from film writers put off audiences? We take a look.

Suicide Squad opens this weekend, but with harsh reviews what are we to make of the fast-paced flick that’s taken social media by storm?

The considerable budget (an estimated $175 million) has paid for big stars, high-octane action and a marketing campaign that has seen audiences begging for more despite many of the characters being totally unknown to non-comic book aficionados.

If you’re looking for a model of hype building, Suicide Squad’s isn’t a bad one.

Suicide Squad

The Brandwatch React team decided to take a detailed look at the hype surrounding the film, searching for mentions of the movie going back to the start of August last year.

Instant fame for unknown characters

If you’re not a superhero connoisseur you might not be familiar with all of the characters popping up in the trailers. Even the more recognizable ones, like The Joker, look very different to previous iterations. It’s a movie with lots of new faces.

Saying that, you’ll still recognize the stars. Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Cara Delevingne are amongst the well-known talent on screen.


The top mentioned character for the year has been Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie. She’s been a central character within the promotional material as well as having some memorable lines in the trailers, and has generated around 150k mentions.

Looking at the breakdown of conversations about characters by gender, it looks like female characters tend to get mentioned most by female commenters.


The actors’ antics on set have been have been well documented, with Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang) reportedly experimenting with magic mushrooms and stubbing out cigarettes on himself to get into character, while other stars tattooed each other and Jared Leto (The Joker) had a dead pig delivered to his co-stars.

Critics have moved in with baseball bats swinging

Director David Ayer has suffered a lot of tough criticism, leading him to respond on Twitter this week.

In fact, one of the top shared news stories in the week leading up to the movie’s release was this piece from My San Antonio that brands the film a “soul-sucking catastrophe”. However, the critics’ comments haven’t put off many of the fans who are planning to see the film this weekend.

Considering the amount of speculation/nostalgia/emotional attachment many attach to characters in the movies, critics’ reviews of superhero flicks are particularly controversial. Fans have even petitioned for Rotten Tomatoes to be shut down in the wake of all the negativity.

There are multiple reasons why critics may not be able to agree with general audiences, and one of those is what Alex Leadbeater calls the “Masterpiece until proven sh*t ethos” which many young fans adhere to.

The distance between critics and audience opinions is pretty well demonstrated when you look at the review data – critics have repeatedly scored the films lower than audiences for the biggest superhero films released so far in 2016 (bar Captain America).

While Rotten Tomatoes’ approved critics are largely panning Suicide Squad, 98% of the (currently 50k+) people who voted in their poll say they want to see it.

Rotten Tomatoes Superheroes

It definitely says something about the power of the film’s marketing.

Will the film make or break?

There’s a lot riding on the film’s success, and with all of the criticism Warner Bros. may be panicking about how this weekend will look.

Having counted around 75k mentions of “can’t wait”, however, we’re fairly certain it’s going to be a hit.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? Email [email protected] for more information.

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