On August 6, The Suicide Squad, with all-new Suicide Squad characters, lands in theaters and on HBO Max. Written and directed by James Gunn, the movie is about a team of DC antiheroes. It is not to be confused with Suicide Squad, a movie about a team of DC antiheroes written and directed by David Ayer. Nor is it Birds of Prey, a movie about an all-female team of DC antiheroes, from director Cathy Yan. Although characters from each film do crossover. If your head is spinning a bit, it’s understandable.
It’s still unclear whether the new Suicide Squad film is a direct sequel, a reboot, or something else altogether. DC seems to be going the route of just throwing all the noodles against the wall and seeing what sticks. But if you ignore problems of continuity and cohesion, based on the sheer ridiculous number of new Suicide Squad characters in Gunn’s new movie, it certainly looks like one wild ride.
As a primer, the Suicide Squad, officially known as Task Force X, is basically the anti–Justice League. It’s made up of several prominent DC villains and antiheroes, who are allowed to carry out deadly missions in return for having time taken off their prison sentences. In the upcoming film, Amanda Waller recruits the team to travel to Corto Maltese and wipe out any evidence of something known only as “Project Starfish.” I’m sure it’s a total coincidence that a massive starfish shows up in one of the trailers, throwing King Shark into a building.
In addition to a few returning characters, James Gunn’s version digs deep into the DC backlog to introduce a ton of new Suicide Squad characters from comics history. So in preparation for the film, here’s a rundown of every new member of the all-new Suicide Squad.
Think of Amanda Waller as a sort of amoral Nick Fury. She’s a high-ranking government official who created and oversees the third iteration of Task Force X. Her directive is simple: carry out the mission, or die trying. Refuse any order, and she’ll detonate a charge placed at the base of your skull. Her unorthodox tactics and ruthless devotion to winning at all costs have garnered her a lot of success. But she also made a lot of enemies, both with her superiors in Washington and among the members of the Suicide Squad itself. She has no powers to speak of, unless you count intimidation, manipulation, and looking killer in a pearl necklace as powers. Which, of course you do. In both Suicide Squad films, Waller is portrayed by the excellent Viola Davis.
The man behind the “shot heard ’round the Twittersphere,” Idris Elba’s Bloodsport sent DC fans into a tizzy when the latest trailer announced he was serving time for putting Superman in the ICU with a Kryptonite bullet. A number of characters have held this moniker over the years, but Elba is Robert DuBois, a mercenary (in the comics he was a draft dodger) employed by Lex Luthor to assassinate Supes. Luthor’s cronies supplied DuBois with an arsenal of high-tech weaponry, which in the film includes a suit that only he can use. It looks like Bloodsport is also a father, so he’ll likely have a major role to play, including becoming one of the Task Force’s leaders.
Originally created in 1992 for the popular Batman: The Animated Series as a henchwoman for Joker, Harley Quinn has since become a breakout force all her own. She has no superpowers per se, just don’t get anywhere near that baseball bat she often carries around. As Dr. Harleen Quinzell, an intern working at Arkham Asylum, she was assigned to psychoanalyze The Joker. She eventually fell in love with him, and he used lies and manipulation to turn her into his villainous accomplice. Over the years this has led to some criticism of the way abuse is portrayed in comics. Still, Harley was so successful as a character that she has since been featured in multiple comics, video games, movies, and animated series. Margot Robbie is the definitive live-action version of the character, playing her now in three different films. We’re all very happy she’s back for The Suicide Squad.
Rick Flag is actually the name of three different DC characters — a father, son, and grandson. The eldest Flag led the first iteration of the Suicide Squad during WWII. In both Suicide Squad films, Joel Kinnaman portrays Rick Flag Jr., a special forces operative who is more or less forced by Waller to lead the team on their missions. In the comics, Flag sees himself as a “good guy” and despises the criminals he works with. But his loyalty to the missions and his fellow teammates eventually gets the better of him. The problem is, he’s a bit mentally unstable, and so as a loose cannon he fits in better with the Squad than he’d like to think.
Peacemaker, AKA Christopher Smith, is the perfect recruit for something like the Suicide Squad. He’s a pacifist, but he’s so committed to peace that he’s not above using violence to get it. As he turns to more and more extreme (read: violent) tactics, Smith eventually comes to believe that the ghosts of his victims live inside his helmet and whisper advice, something I sincerely hope that John Cena’s version of the character will also believe. This will be Peacemaker’s first film debut, but soon after, he will have a spin-off series of his very own at HBO Max.
One of the rare non-human characters in the Suicide Squad (and just wait until you hear about Weasel), Nanaue is a humanoid shark with powers that include, well, being a humanoid shark. There’s been long-held debate in the comics over whether he’s the son of the Shark God (as he claims) or just a savage genetic mutation. You might think his oceanic nature would make him a custom-made villain for Aquaman, but King Shark actually made his debut in Superboy in 1994. Similar to Harley Quinn, King Shark is making more and more appearances in DC properties, and personally, I would watch a spinoff of this character as well. In The Suicide Squad, he is voiced by none other than Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone.
As a minor DC supervillain who didn’t last very long in the comics, Mongal is an interesting choice for The Suicide Squad. I hope it’s not a spoiler to say that since we expect not all the characters will be left standing by the time the credits roll, it’s a good bet that Mongal might just meet an unfortunate end. She’s an alien overlord, the daughter of Mongul the Elder and the sister of Mongul II (I know, this family nomenclature really needs to sort itself out), and with super strength and stamina, she and her brother have gone toe-to-toe with Superman. However, in a Green Lantern comic, her brother wound up killing her with a single punch after stating that familial bonds just make a person weak. Nice family! Mayling Ng will be portraying Mongal in her big-screen debut.
Polka-Dot Man is definitely a throwback character, created in the ’60s as a minor foil to Batman by comic book writers who were obviously throwing any bizarre idea out there and saying, “yeah, that works — let’s go with that.” Abner Krill was a small-time crook in Gotham with access to advanced technology in the form of small circles embedded in his suit. When removed from the suit, the dots enlarge and take on different forms, including a buzzsaw, a flying saucer, fists, and a black hole for teleportation. It will be fun to see just how off-the-wall Gunn’s version, portrayed by David Dastmalchian, will be allowed to be. We’ve seen a glimpse of Polka-Dot Man’s polka dots in action in one of the trailers, but I’m excited to see more of this bizarre power.
George Harkness, AKA Captain Boomerang, has been a major player in the Suicide Squad since being introduced as a villain for The Flash in 1960. As a child growing up in the Australian town of Korumburra, Harkness taught himself the skill of boomerang making and throwing, since back then that was apparently all Americans thought Australians did. He tried performing as a boomerang artist for a toy company, but when audiences only laughed at him, he naturally turned to a life of crime instead. On the Suicide Squad, Harkness has a bad reputation, which should tell you something about his character. He constantly harasses and antagonizes his teammates. Waller herself refers to him as a “jerk and a screw-up,” adding “sick burns” to her list of superpowers. Jai Courtney played Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad, and returns in the latest outing as well.
Michael Rooker is great in just about anything, and I’m pumped for his third team-up with James Gunn after both Guardians of the Galaxy films. In The Suicide Squad, he portrays Brian Durlin/Savant, a genius-level computer whiz who inherited an enormous fortune and moved to Gotham City to become a crime-fighting vigilante. If that sounds familiar, you would be correct. Except rather than save innocent bystanders, Savant, you know, let them die. When Batman discouraged Savant from continuing vigilantism because of his lack of concern for people, Savant used his skills to blackmail people instead.
Just in time for the Olympics, we will see the first former Olympian turned criminal mastermind on the big screen! Gunter Braun was a German athlete who competed in the Olympics before apparently realizing, “Hey — I can use my javelin-throwing abilities to aid and abet a life of crime instead!” Using a collection of high-tech exploding javelins, he fought against Green Lantern before being captured. Which of course he was, because there’s really no contest between a ring that can literally do almost anything and an exploding javelin. Anyway, Braun joins the Suicide Squad in order to get his sentence revoked, and later teams up with a few other villains in an attempt to frame Amanda Waller. He is played by Flula Borg in the film.
Otis Flannegan was a ratcatcher in Gotham City who used his uncanny ability to train and commune with rats, along with his knowledge of the city’s sewer system, to cause Batman a lot of grief. But it’s his daughter Cleo, taking on the name Ratcatcher II, who we’ll meet in The Suicide Squad. She will be portrayed by Portuguese actress Daniela Melchior. Cleo has all of the same powers as her father. She can control and communicate with rats, making them obey her every whim. In the trailer, we see a glimpse of Cleo using a sonic screwdriver-looking thing, which may be how she can control the rats. Either way, you probably don’t want her at your next party.
Speaking of sonic screwdrivers, Doctor Who fans are rightly hyped for Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor, to join the DC Extended Universe as The Thinker. There are several iterations of The Thinker in comics history, but Capaldi is most likely Clifford DeVoe, the first person to ever bear the name. DeVoe was a failed district attorney in Keystone City who, after letting a notorious crime boss go free, offered his services to the boss’ criminal empire. DeVoe discovered a “Thinking Cap” that enhanced his already considerable intellect and gave him telekineses and mind control powers. In his first outing with Task Force X, he was thought to have been eaten by Weasel, but that turned out later to not be true. Still, my money is on Weasel and The Thinker having some…interesting interactions in the new film.
Dick Hertz was a thug recruited by the criminal group known as The 1,000. They outfitted him with a high-tech suit and some gadgets, and he became the criminal Blackguard. When attempting to steal some satellite technology from S.T.A.R. Labs, he was stopped by Booster Gold. Later, after becoming reformed in prison, Waller grew interested in Blackguard as a member of the Suicide Squad. On his first mission, though, part of his team turned against him, and he was beheaded. I guess there really is no honor among thieves. Could this mean we’ll see the Suicide Squad turning on each other? Time will tell. Pete Davidson plays Blackguard in the film.
There’s a fair bit of speculation over just which comic book character Nathan Fillion will be portraying in The Suicide Squad, because no character by the name of TDK appears in the comics. However, internet sleuths believe they’ve solved the mystery: TDK stands for The Detachable Kid. If so, this character is likely a re-brand of Arm-Fall-Off-Boy, who yes, was an actual comics character. He had the ability to detach his limbs and use them as weapons. Again, I am not making this up. Honestly, this power sounds about as hilarious as it is ridiculous, so I’m really excited about seeing this one onscreen.
So here we finally have Weasel. John Monroe was bullied relentlessly as a student at Stanford University. As an adult, Monroe got a job teaching at Vandermeer University in Philadelphia along with several of his old Stanford colleagues. This made Monroe so angry he rationalized murdering them. Donning a costume with long claws and calling himself Weasel, one of the nicknames his tormentors gave him, he murdered three of them until Firestorm eventually put him in prison. After being recruited to the Suicide Squad, Weasel attempted to kill The Thinker on a mission before Rick Flag put him down for good. In the film, Weasel, played by Sean Gunn, seems to be some human/animal hybrid who has killed 27 children, according to the trailer. Safe to say I don’t think we’ll see a stuffed animal of this character anytime soon.
There’s one more member of the team mentioned in the announcement trailer: Sol Soria, played by Alice Braga. She’s also not a comics character, but there is speculation that she could be a gender-swapped version of Juan Soria, who wanted to be a superhero so badly he gave himself a cybernetic hand that could unlock any lock. He tried out for the Justice League but was rejected, and so turned to crime, later joining the Suicide Squad. But I’m not convinced, since Braga’s character seems wildly different from this one. The DCEU Wiki says Braga is a native of Corto Maltese and the leader of a resistance force there. She teams up with Task Force X, but isn’t necessarily a true member. Is there any relation to Juan Soria? We shall find out very soon!