Hi folks, I’m starting a new column here on 2 Shots of Geek titled “So You’re Going to Watch” where I do a backgrounder for an upcoming comic book movie so you have all the details in one place. It’s mainly meant for non-comic book fans but there are details meant for everyone. On with the info on the Suicide Squad…
The Short and Dirty
When is it out? August 5th 2016 (US release)
What’s it about? A dirty dozen style group of super-villains is gathered by the US Government to use as expendable agents on a dangerous mission and kept inline with implanted explosives. Despite this dark premise “Suicide Squad” looks like it has the lightest tone of the DCEU films so far.
Who’s in it? The big names are Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn with cameos from Jared Leto as the Joker and Ben Affleck reprising his role as Batman.
What’s it rated? It’s PG-13, but it is about a bunch of crooks shanghaied by the government to go on a suicide mission, so a high level of violence is likely inevitable.
Do I need to have watched other movies to get it? I’d say it’s a strong no. While this film is set in the same universe as Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman, from what we’ve seen in the trailers it doesn’t have a strong connection to either film other than an appearance by Batman.
The Long and Nerdy
History of the Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad is officially known as Task Force X in the DC universe. They first appeared in “The Brave and the Bold” #25 in 1959. Then as in its present incarnation, it was a gang of supervillains given a chance at getting out of jail in exchange for doing a dangerous and deniable mission for the government and was led by Rick Flagg. They did not appear again until 1987 and have appeared more frequently in DC’s line up since then. Given the adhoc nature of the team has included a number of characters over the years but some version of Rick Flagg (there are three generations of them) and more recently Amanda Waller usually appear.
DC has wrapped its latest version of the team in “New Suicide Squad” but the Suicide Squad will be given a soft reboot in DC’s Rebirth event, with “Suicide Squad Rebirth” #1 scheduled to be released on August 3rd.
The Suicide Squad has also appeared in a number of DC Animated productions including being featured in “Batman: Assault on Arkham” and have appeared in DC’s live-action television as well in “Smallville” and “Arrow”.
The Government Types
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis): A hardnosed agent of the American government and the director of the Suicide Squad project. In the comics she had her debut in “Legends” #1 in 1986 and has appeared in a number of DC’s other media including the TV series Arrow (played by) and on several of their animated projects. Amanda, in all but her most recent comic appearances, has been a stout but commanding black woman, who’s nickname ‘The Wall’ not only described her physically but her personality as well. More recent comics have made her younger and thinner but with the same attitude as her predecessor.
Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman): A military officer charged with being the team’s leader and babysitter. In the comics Rick Flag is a legacy character, the name being passed down from father to son three times with each of them being involved in the Suicide Squad in one form or another. The First of the Rick Flags appeared in 1959’s “Brave and the Bold” #25 and the most recent version, Rick Flag III appeared in “Suicide Squad” #50 in 1991. As the Suicide Squad is a new to the the DCEU it’s not quite clear which version the movies’ Flag wil be based on.
Katana (Karen Fukunaga): A supernatural samurai with a soul-stealing Katana. The released materials about the Suicide Squad film suggest that Katana volunteered for the team and is acting as Rick Flag’s bodyguard on the mission. In the comics she debuted in 1983 in “The Brave and the Bold” #200, since then has been on a number of teams including the Justice League and had solo mini-series in 2013 of ten issues.
Task Force X (aka the Suicide Squad)
Deadshot (Will Smith): An expert marksman and assassin. We don’t know much of his backstory in the movie but in the comics he debuted way back in 1950 in “Batman” #59 and has been and on and off again adversary for the caped crusader. He has been part of the comic version of the Suicide Squad before as well as appearing on DC’s Arrow and in the Batman: Assault on Arkham animated feature.
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie): A psychiatrist turned The Joker’s girl Friday. Harley Quinn is now a major figure in the comics and has had her own solo title since 2013. Unlike most characters in the DC Universe Harley originated in DC’s “Batman: The Animated Series”. Gaining popularity, she made the jump from the cartoon to the comic page and has continued to be a fan favorite. As a result in her recent portrayals Harley has been less of a villain and more of an anti-hero and has broken off her twisted relationship with the Joker, at least for now.
Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney): Another assassin, this one using trick boomerangs. In the comics he is George “Digger” Harkness an Australian criminal who like his movie counterpart uses trick and often exploding boomerangs to commit his crimes. In the comics he has been a frequent enemy of the Flash since his debut in “Flash” #117 in 1960. It’s unknown if there will be any ties between him and the Scarlet Speedster in the film but with the Flash’s solo movie due out in 2018 we can probably count on at least a reference.
El Diablo (Jay Hernandez): A former gang member who can summon flames on command. In the comics the current El Diablo is Chato Santana, who like his movie counterpart can summon flames. The name El Diablo has been used by three characters in the DC universe starting with Lazarus Lane, who first appeared in “All-Star Western” #2 back in 1970 followed by Rafael Sandoval in 1989 and Santana in 2008. Each of the three had their own powers despite using the same identity. Like his movie counterpart El Diablo (Santana) is currently a member of the Suicide Squad.
Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje): A criminal with a skin condition that gives him reptilian features and who has developed a taste for human flesh. Like Deadshot and Harley Quinn he debuted as a Batman villain and has remained a regular member of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Croc’s appearance, motives and overall intelligence has varied greatly over the years though with more-or-less human appearance and some dialogue in the trailers it is likely we’ll see a Croc at his most animalistic.
Slipknot (Adam Beach): There’s not been a lot released about the movie version of Slipknot and on the comic side he’s been something of D-List villain, who like his name suggests uses ropes as a weapon.. He had his debut in 1984’s “Firestorm” #28 and has sporadic appearances since then.
Batman (Ben Affleck): Batman is well, Batman. He last appeared in the DCEU in Batman vs Superman and has a solo picture in the works that’s going to be written and directed by Ben Affleck. His role in the movie seems to be in flashbacks but who knows, the Bat might have a bigger role to play.
The Joker (Jared Leto): Much like Batman, the Joker really needs no introduction. He hasn’t shown up in the current DCEU yet, so this will be his debut. The Joker’s role in the film hasn’t been fully revealed in the trailers but it looks like he plays a role in the flashbacks as well during the Squad’s mission which will be sure to cause complications for Harley.
The Enchantress (Cara Delevigne): The Enchantress is a bit of a mystery when it comes to the film and it’s not certain if she will be part of the team or the reason for their mission.. The comic character, a woman named June Moone who is possessed by the magical being Dzamor, has been a member of the Suicide Squad and most recently Justice League Dark. Though through most of her comic history she’s been a villain for heroes such as Supergirl, The Spectre and Green Lantern so it’s probably safe to say if she’s not the movie’s main villain she’s certainly going to be someone they need to watch out for.
Where to Find More
Comics: As stated above DC Comics has wrapped up the run of New Suicide Squad which began in 2014 but it and earlier series are available in trade paperback. As well the line will be re-launched on August 3rd in “Suicide Squad Rebirth”, which should make a good jumping on point for new readers.
Animation: The DC Animated film, “Batman: Assault on Arkham”, is despite the name pretty much a Suicide Squad movie and a good one at that. If people are looking for something to give them a taste of what they’re in for with Suicide Squad this is probably the best place to look. The film features Amanda Waller sending the squad including Harley, Deadshot and Boomerang on a dangerous mission including Batman and Joker. Sound familiar?
TV: CW’s “Arrow” and their earlier series “Smallville” has had a few Suicide Squad. In “Arrow” they appear in episodes S02E16 “Suicide Squad”, S02E23 “Unthinkable” and S03E17 “Suicidal Tendencies”. The episodes are pretty great but with the advent of the Suicide Squad film and DC’s policy about avoiding overlap between their film and TV properties the team is unlikely to appear again. The “Smallville” has the Squad appear in episodes S10E01 “Lazarus”, S10E02 “Shield”, S10E07 “Ambush” and S10E12 “Collateral”.