With Warner Brothers’ DC Cinematic Universe finally kicking into gear, I’ve taken the opportunity to put together a little piece introducing you to one of their lesser known properties. Having only risen to prominence in the last year or so, it was a bit of a shock when David Ayer’s The Suicide Squad was announced as a part of DC’s new slate.
However, with Marvel churning out a $700+ million with Guardians Of The Galaxy this summer, it seems anything is possible within the realms of comic-book movies these days! Already looking like a similarly ‘out-of-left-field’ property, The Suicide Squad assembles a group of C & D-List super-villains – forcing them to work on high-risk missions for the US Government in order to shave time off their prison sentences.
As a long-time fan of the Squad, this is a project pretty close to my heart. Scroll down to find out who they are – and what all of the fuss is about!
Who Are They?
Although the team first debuted in 1959’s The Brave And The Bold (Vol. 1), the squad we all know and love today made their first appearance in John Ostrander‘s Legends #3, back in 1987. Designed as an antiheroic team of former super villains who frequently underwent ‘suicide operations’, Ostrander’s squad drew many positive comparisons to the classic 1967 film: The Dirty Dozen.
But what made this property particularly interesting wasn’t the violence, nor any of the superpowers – but the way Ostrander handled these ‘high risk’ missions. He never shied away from killing off characters – no matter how important they may have been. This gave the stories incredibly high stakes – something uncommon in most other comic-book properties. I mean, how many times have you actually thought Batman was going to die?
The New 52
Over time, the Squad has undergone a number of overhauls – but the core concepts have always remained. Nobody is safe, and even the worst of criminals can be adapted in an interesting and sympathetic light. Adam Glass‘ 2011 New 52 reboot proved this with Harley Quinn – a character so synonymous with The Joker, it seemed strange for her to be without him. Glass changed that, turning Harley into a formidable character in her own right.
Adapting The Squad
Outside of the comics, the Squad have also popped up in both animated and live-action formats. Having already racked up notable appearances during Smallville‘s final season, they featured in Arrow‘s second season to great acclaim, bringing to life talks of a CW spin-off. They were making waves again soon after, in this summer’s Batman: Assault On Arkham – which likely gave momentum to the upcoming live-action movie.
One of the biggest decision’s Warner Bros will have to make is which run to use. Given the popularity of Harley Quinn and Assault On Arkham, you can bet the New 52 run is going to get a lot of focus. However, there is a strong case for including elements from some of the old-school arcs – which offer the same level of violence but with a little added grit. Personally I’d love to see the movie’s script embrace the best of both worlds.
Rick Flag Jr.
“Get this straight – I’m not your friend, I’m not your social worker, and I don’t have to be nice.” – Rick Flag Jr.
Despite the squad’s recent spike in popularity, Col. Rick Flag Jr. has ended up as the ‘forgotten man’. Perhaps the only mistake Adam Glass made in his New 52 relaunch was leaving him out altogether. As the character once said himself: The Suicide Squad “needs a Rick Flag”. He’s their field leader, a hardened soldier and, most importantly, not like the other members. He’s not a criminal – just a man with a lot of regrets.
“Let’s kill some people and see where that gets us.” – Deadshot
Guaranteed to pop-up in every squad incarnation, Floyd Lawton has always been a fan-favourite. Initially just a Batman rogue, he found far more success blurring the lines between good and evil as Task Force X’s most entertaining member. His top-level marksmanship is only matched by his insatiable death wish, and while he has been given the squad’s leadership as of late, I’ve always preferred him as more of a loose cannon.
“Oh this is gonna be fun!” – Harley Quinn
Well this character should need no introduction. Despite only joining the team in the 2011 New 52 reboot, she’s arguably its most famous face. Harley Quinn was once a respectable psychiatrist – until she met a certain clown-faced criminal and went a little… loopy? Her time in the squad has been fascinating – it’s almost been the therapy she needed to cut ties with The Joker, and has helped her to become a formidable anti-hero in her own right.
“Hello. My name is Amanda Waller. Let me explain a few things to you. Starting right now, I own your ass.” – Amanda Waller
Weight issues aside, Amanda Waller has always played a fundamental role in managing The Suicide Squad. Cold, intelligent and often incredibly ruthless, she keeps the criminals in line, bugging them with explosive trackers or torturing them every once in a while. Nicknamed ‘The Wall’, she is one of the toughest customers in DC Comics, able to scare both heroes and villains alike. In the end, Waller is the squad’s most vital member.
“Figured you’d be by, sooner or later.” – Deathstroke
While I believe the four characters above are essential members of the squad’s roster, the other spots are completely up for debate. I’d personally love to see Capt. Boomerang involved – a cowardly, bigoted Flash rogue who shares a brutal rivalry with fellow team member Deadshot. Other long-term members from the Ostrander run such as Bronze Tiger, Nightshade and Nemesis are also great picks.
WB could also look to the New 52 for inspiration. King Shark is an interesting pick, having worked so well in Glass’ New 52 run. Many fans would also love to see the Aquaman rogue, Black Manta feature too. The big question, however, is whether or not Deathstroke will appear. While I’d love to see him as a rival, I can’t see him as a team member. Plus they’d have to top Manu Bennett’s magnificent portrayal on Arrow.
There’s also a case of throwing a few even lesser known one-off characters, such as Blockbuster and Mind-Boggler, in there – just to kill off for good effect. The problem with these criminals is nobody really cares whether they die – thus loosing a vital part of what the Squad’s always been about. I’d much rather we get to know a scum-bag like Capt. Boomerang, before having him cruelly killed off, just as we start to love him.
Due to the fact that The Suicide Squad is to be DC’s next movie (after Batman Vs Superman), the rumours have begun to flood in – to mixed reception. On the one hand, it appears Ayer is looking at some quality A-List acting talent (Hardy and Robbie, in particular, look like real coups). But on the script front, things appear less encouraging.
About a month ago, El Mayimbe revealed an altogether underwhelming rumoured line-up, featuring Deadshot, Boomerang, Vixen (as opposed to Harley/Waller) and a bunch of forgettable unknowns – and focusing on flashy super-powers instead of more human action. If this is the direction they’re going, I, for one, will be incredibly disappointed.
Elsewhere, there have been recent claims that Jesse Eisenberg has been approached to reprise his role as Lex Luthor, possibly even as the squad’s leader. While this may be some clever cross-marketing between DC’s movie properties, I can’t help but disagree with the idea. Lex Luthor just doesn’t belong in The Suicide Squad. Period.
Well there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and learnt at least a little about the team. Are you guys looking forward to The Suicide Squad movie? Which characters/story-lines would you like to see feature? Let me know in the comments – I do my happy dance every time you do!
The Suicide Squad will be released 5th August, 2016 with David Ayer (Fury) in line to direct.
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