SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Suicide Squad,” in theaters now.
Warner Bros.’ “Suicide Squad” has already been the subject of rampant debate in its first few days in theaters. Whether you liked it or you hated it, two things are clear: 1) Despite mostly negative reviews, the film’s opening still broke the August box-office record with a $135.1 million weekend, and 2) It plays a major role in shaping the still-young DC Films franchise going forward.
DC’s shared movie universe began in 2013 with “Man of Steel,” and continued earlier this year with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” While those two films featured some of the biggest superhero icons — Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman — David Ayer‘s “Suicide Squad” explores considerably less-mainstream characters on the DC roster, including Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) along with introducing a new — and rather polarizing — Joker, played by Jared Leto. Given the central concept of the film — Waller gathering Task Force X, a team of disparate super-powered criminals acting on behalf of the government in exchange for reduced sentences — viewers get to see new territory of DC’s big-screen world.
Whether “Suicide Squad” goes down in history as a commercially successful misstep or an underappreciated fan favorite remains to be seen, but it already has relevance in how its helped to shape the DC Films universe, along with some significant surprises within the movie itself. The film leaves comic book movie fans with plenty to consider — and here are the 10 biggest revelations from “Suicide Squad.”
10. GOTHAM CITY IS IN NEW JERSEY?
Where DC Comics’ many fictional cities — Gotham City, Metropolis, Central City, etc. — are located is rarely specifically established. After all, once you tie a fictional city to a real state, it permanently links a fantastical setting to a real-world environment, and can potentially limit the types of stories you tell. For the most part, these DC Universe cities could conceivably be in various spots on a map, which gives creators plenty of flexibility.
“Suicide Squad” reveals, through multiple shots of dossier files introducing characters like Deadshot, that the Gotham City of DC Films is in New Jersey, meaning that Bruce Wayne’s governor is Chris Christie and that he probably owns at least one Bruce Springsteen album. This is far from the first time Gotham and New Jersey have been linked — multiple comic books over the years have also placed Gotham City in the Garden State, although it’s usually ultimately still open to creative interpretation.
9. HARLEY QUINN WAS AN ACCOMPLICE IN ROBIN’S MURDER
Something really bad happened to Robin — or at least a Robin — in DC’s film universe. In “Batman v Superman,” a Robin costume is seen in the Batcave with “Hahaha joke’s on you Batman” painted on it — clearly echoing Jason Todd’s murder at the hands of the Joker in DC Comics’ “Death in the Family” storyline.
That story wasn’t told in “Batman v Superman” and still isn’t related in “Suicide Squad” — although a little bit more of a clue is given. In the introductory sequence for Harley Quinn, helpful text on the screen explains she was an “accomplice to Robin’s murder.” While that’s a change from the comics, it’s not exactly surprising — Joker and Harley Quinn already have quite a history together as the action of “Suicide Squad” begins — it also cements that while she may be a fan favorite, Harley has been involved in some really bad things, and hints further toward a story that could be told in an upcoming DC-based movie.
8. SCOTT EASTWOOD PLAYS — WHO, EXACTLY?
Given his famous father and increasing profile with roles in 2015’s “The Longest Ride” and David Ayer’s “Fury,” there was a lot of chatter around who Scott Eastwood might play in this movie. Guesses included Steve Trevor (who Chris Pine will bring to live action in 2017’s “Wonder Woman”) or Green Arrow (played on the small screen by Stephen Amell in The CW’s “Arrow”).
It turns out the answer was not only none of the above, but not even close. Eastwood in fact plays Lt. GQ Edwards, a character original to the film, and, more strikingly, one barely in the movie, and with little to no impact on the plot. He’s a soldier who helps Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) keep tabs on Task Force X — and that’s it. It’s not yet known whether the character may have had some significant scenes cut, but in “Suicide Squad” itself, he’s fairly easy to miss. Common has a similarly minor role, as Joker associate “Monster T.”
7. HARLEY AND JOKER’S RELATIONSHIP
Harley Quinn and Joker’s relationship is a complicated one — and in just about every incarnation, not at all healthy. Joker — being pretty much an embodiment of pure evil — is frequently depicted as abusive toward her, with Harley returning for more until she comes to something resembling her senses. It’s what makes it always feel icky when their relationship is in any way romanticized.
Yet in “Suicide Squad,” their relationship is actually portrayed as — kind of oddly sweet? Well, let’s get this out of the way: He is seen torturing her with electroshock therapy (that “I’m not going to kill you, I’m just going to hurt you real bad” scene from the first footage released last year), but, like it or not, that’s glossed over quickly. Beyond that, Joker actually is depicted as something of a romantic hero, as bizarre as that sounds. In a flashback set at the factory where Joker presumably came to be, it feels like he may throw her into the vat of chemicals, but she dives in herself. Instead of leaving her there, Joker jumps after her and kisses her passionately. At the very end, when Joker and his henchmen break Harley out of Belle Reve, it feels like a moment the audience is meant to root for.
Perhaps this is why the film cut a reported scene of Joker slapping Harley, as that would be out of step with much of their other interactions in the movie.
6. BOOMERANG HAS A RUN-IN WITH THE FLASH
It had been known since very early on that Batman would appear in “Suicide Squad.” But he’s not the only member of the Justice League represented. In the introductory sequence for Jai Courtney’s amusing Captain Boomerang — and credit to the filmmakers for embracing the name “Captain Boomerang” — he’s seen attempting to rob a bank before being foiled by The Flash. That’s right, it’s the second appearance of Ezra Miller as the Fastest Man Alive, following his (suitably) quick cameos in “Batman v Superman.”
This time, The Flash is fully suited-up — as opposed to his caught-on-camera convenience store heroics in “BvS” — and quickly dispatches the Captain. Not only was this a genuine surprise — well, before the details leaked online, at least — it also establishes a history between Flash and Captain Boomerang, who are longtime rivals in DC Comics. (A similar set-up is used for Deadshot’s backstory, as he’s shown being taken out by Batman — maintaining that character’s comic book origins as a Batman villain.)
5. BATMAN KNOWS WHAT AMANDA WALLER IS UP TO
Speaking of Batman: He’s not in “Suicide Squad” a lot, but he is in it more than you might think. He’s chasing after Joker and Harley Quinn as seen in previously released footage (and administering some oddly intimate mouth-to-mouth to Harley), he’s capturing Deadshot (which led to that character’s imprisonment) and, most meaningfully, he’s in the mid-credits scene.
There, Amanda Waller meets with Bruce Wayne at a restaurant, and gives him documents on superhumans that she’s been monitoring — clearly bridging to “Justice League,” which is already known to depict Batman assembling the titular team. As the tense encounter ends, Waller tells Wayne he should maybe “stop working nights” — obviously suggesting that she knows he’s Batman — with Wayne responding that she needs to shut down Task Force X before he does; making it absolutely clear he knows what she’s up to, and he doesn’t approve. (Given that Waller put an accomplice to Robin’s murder in her service, it’s not surprising that Batman’s not on board, even beyond any moral ambiguity.)
4. SLIPKNOT ISN’T HERE TO STAY
Given the amount of characters — remember that packed group shot released last year? — it was easy to wonder whether “Suicide Squad” might be a lot like a rejected tweet: Too many characters!
Yes, there are a lot of characters in Suicide Squad. But, naturally, not all of them receive equal screen time. Adam Beach‘s Slipknot was featured with the rest of the Squad in marketing material — he even had his own character poster — but he’s killed off soon after his introduction (which doesn’t occur until late in the film’s second act).
Keep in mind, Task Force X is nicknamed “Suicide Squad” for a reason: If any members of the team of convinced criminals disobey orders, an explosive device implanted in their heads is triggered. And that would be just an empty threat unless Waller and company were willing to exert that power, leaving Slipknot the story’s designated sacrificial lamb. When Slipknot uses his power to “climb anything” — perhaps not all that impressive on a team with someone who can create fire — in an attempted escape, Waller activates her “killer app” and demonstrates she’s not messing around.
3. IT PICKS UP WHERE “BATMAN V SUPERMAN” ENDS
Given that “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was released less than five months ago, it’s a natural move for “Suicide Squad” to pick up where that film leaves off. Although it doesn’t involve any of the same characters (except for Batman’s quick appearances), it touches on major thematic elements to illustrate the type of cross-film connective tissue that has helped make Marvel Studios’ movie franchise such a success.
“Suicide Squad” is the first film in the new DC Comics-based canon that doesn’t feature Henry Cavill’s Superman, but that doesn’t mean his presence isn’t felt. It’s explained the creation of Task Force X is both inspired by newfound concerns following the Man of Steel’s arrival — what if he used his powers for evil and became a threat to national security? — and his apparent death at the end of “Batman v Superman,” given the void he left behind in terms of dealing with otherworldly threats.
2. ENCHANTRESS IS THE VILLAIN
As the main cast of “Suicide Squad” is basically entirely villains — or in the case of Amanda Waller, very, very morally ambiguous — it wasn’t always clear who the antagonist actually was. Considering the character’s profile and prominence in early advertising, it seemed as if it could be Jared Leto’s Joker, but his role is actually a lot smaller than viewers might have expected, mainly operating in subplots related to Harley Quinn and her backstory.
Speculation quickly centered on Enchantress, who’s been both a villain and antihero in the comics, and that’s indeed the case — although she’s essentially a reluctant antagonist. Cara Delevingne’s June Moone is an archaeologist who becomes possessed by the spirit of an ancient deity named Enchantress. Although she’s meant to keep it in check and act as a part of Task Force X, the bad side of her takes over fairly quickly, with Rick Flagg — who has been manipulated by Waller into a relationship with Moone — motivated into action to save her.
1. THE FILM DOESN’T SHY AWAY FROM SUPERPOWERS
Speaking of Enchantress, although much of “Suicide Squad” feels somewhat street-level, the Enchantress definitely isn’t. She (and her brother Incubus, not referred to by name in the actual film) turn people into zombie-esque soldiers and open an ambiguous but ominous portal over Midway City. The stakes get high and the characters feel like they stepped out of a fantasy film, in contrast to more grounded characters like Deadshot.
That’s not the only instance where “Suicide Squad” embraces large-scale superpowers. In DC lore, Katana (played in the film by Karen Fukuhara) has one of the more high-concept abilities in comic books: a sword dubbed the “Soultaker,” which, as the name implies, traps the souls of its victims inside of it. In an earlier era, a live-action adaptation might have mitigated something like that, but it’s in full force in the film, even if Katana doesn’t get much screen time. Of course, there’s also El Diablo, who can incinerate anyone around him with his pyrokinetic powers, or just conjure some fire into the shape of his deceased wife.
So if there was any doubt as to how “big” “Suicide Squad” would get — rest assured, they weren’t aiming for stark realism, and DC’s film franchise will surely only continue on this path.
“Suicide Squad” is in theaters now.
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