suicide squad

In case you’re confused, Bob breaks down Warner Bros. and DC’s supervillain supergroup.

Now that there’s finally a cast, mainstream movie journalism is finally starting to take notice of the utterly bizarre fact that the very next installment of Warner Bros DC Cinematic Universe movies is going to be a “Dirty Dozen with Comic-Book Villains” from the director of Fury. But what, exactly, is The Suicide Squad?

Well, technically there are two. DC’s original Suicide Squad was a WWII-era team (though the stories were written in the 70s) of humans tasked with battling superhuman villains during the period when most of the Justice League/Society were laying low because Joseph McCarthy was targeting metahumans. DC likes to create elaborate answers to questions about why Superman etc didn’t intervene during major historical conflicts of the past.

The Squad on the slate now, on the other hand, was created in 1987 by writer John Ostrander. The premise? In part, to answer the question of how costumed supervillains just couldn’t seem to stay in jail. The answer? The government parols them in exchange for undertaking high-risk covert-ops missions that officially never take place. That book lasted for 66 issues and is widely celebrated as an innovative high point of DC’s sometimes erratic 80s output (ever hear of “Justice League Detroit?”) and remains the basis for most modern incarnations of the idea.

As befits the premise, The Suicide Squad of the comics has had a largely rotating membership over the decades; usually made up of obscure B and C-list villains but occasionally incorporating bigger name baddies. The film version is going for a mix of big and small names, both in regards to the characters and the actors portraying them. Read on, and let’s take a look at who we’ve got on the roster…

Deadshot

DEADSHOT (Will Smith)

Real name Floyd Lawton, Deadshot is a tech-enhanced assassin (the world’s deadliest) and master marksman who began his career as a minor-level Batman nemesis. In the comics, he’s one of the most “loyal” members of the Squad – continually re-upping for more missions even after his pardons are effectively earned.

boomerang

CAPTAIN BOOMERANG (Jai Courtney)

The name sort-of says it all: Captain Boomerang (likely to be called simply “Boomerang” in the final movie) is an Australian villain whose skillset is based around his mastery of weaponized boomerangs. The version seen in the film will apparently be based on Owen Mercer, the second man to use the moniker and the son of the original. In the comics, he is actually more dangerous than his father owing to having inherited superhuman genes from his mother.

June Moone Enchantress

ENCHANTRESS (Cara Delevingne)

Not to be confused with a Marvel character with the same nickname, June Moone is possessed by an ancient magic-using entity called Enchantress that occasionally takes control of her in the fashion of a split-personality. Of note: If her origin and powers remain unchanged from the comics (unlikely) she will become the first magically-powered character in the DC Movieverse. A relatively obscure character, she’s mainly known as a nemesis of Supergirl.

Rick Flag

RICK FLAG (Tom Hardy)

No, Hardy is not returning to his role as The Dark Knight Rises’ Bane. Instead, he’ll take up the role of a former soldier turned government agent who serves as field commander of the Squad even as he despises and distrust the villains he’s tasked with keeping on-task. It has been implied that his memories of having served heroically in the U.S. military are actually false, the result of extensive brainwashing.

Harley Quinn

HARLEY QUINN (Margot Robbie)
Originally created for Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn exists in the proud tradition of Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl as characters invented for TV adaptations who proved popular enough to become part of the comics. So goes the story, B:TAS creators were worried that TV restrictions would force them to undercut how scary they wanted The Joker to be by forcing him to use amusing clown-themed weapons instead of guns, knives and acid. The solution? Give the slapstick to a regular henchman – or maybe hench-woman… or maybe a girlfriend. Quinn (real name Harlene Quinnzelle, an Arkham psychiatrist who attempted to analyze The Joker) proved to be the breakout original character of the series, and quickly transitioned from sexy comic-relief to a well-rounded vehicle for the writers to explore stories about rehabilitation, the implications of her abusive relationship with Joker and even heavily-implied bisexuality via her “maybe more” friendship with Poison Ivy.

The Joker

THE JOKER (Jared Leto)

It’s going to be interesting to see how Leto’s vision of the Clown Prince of Crime is received, given how fresh the late Heath Ledger’s iconic take still is in the minds of many fans. Will the film try to continue from that direction, or blaze a new trail?

Amanda Waller

AMANDA WAlLER (Not yet cast)

One of the film’s biggest parts still remains uncast: Amanda “The Wall” Waller, the hard-nosed government official in charge of the Suicide Squad program. A mother coming from modest means, Waller built herself into a figure of fearsome political power – not only reviving the original Squad program but also building an entire covert agency dedicated to monitoring superhumans, “Checkmate,” from scratch. Supposedly, Warner Bros wants Oprah Winfrey for the part.

Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.

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