When Warner Bros. announced the official cast of director David Ayer‘s upcoming “Suicide Squad” film, the list was full of surprises — both in actor and character choices. As widely expected, the movie looks to be based in large part on writer John Ostrander‘s incarnation of the government-organized team of incarcerated villains. Known officially as Task Force X, the Suicide Squad’s members are offered freedom and a clean record in exchange for their participation in top-secret, highly dangerous missions. Of course, not everyone will make it out of every op alive — and even if they do survive, there’s always the matter of the micro-bomb implanted at the base of Squad members’ skulls, a failsafe just in case they decide to go into business for themselves and step out of line.
The best part of the film’s Squad roster is that it seems to celebrate many different eras of the Squad, from Ostrander’s aforementioned run to the early Silver Age days of the Squad, to the current New 52 comic book incarnation. And while there are a number of characters who remain to be cast — the most obvious being the Squad’s leader, Amanda Waller — there’s plenty to chew on with the half-dozen Squad members Warner Bros. has already revealed. And while a couple of them need no introduction, the majority of the Squad’s announced roster consists of, shall we say, lesser-known DC Comics characters. So as we await word on whether Oprah Winfrey will make her DC movie debut alongside Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto, let’s take a look at who, exactly, the U.S. government will enlist to protect us when the Squad is unleashed in 2016.
Deadshot (Will Smith)
Of the announced characters, Deadshot’s history with the Squad runs deepest. When the character first appeared in 1950’s “Batman” #59 (created by Bob Kane, David Vern Reed and Lew Schwartz), Floyd Lawton was a mustachioed, gun-wielding villain whose gimmick was that he never missed. The original Deadshot, in his trench coat and top hat, might have been relegated to the mists of history if Ostrander hadn’t dusted him off as a founding member of the new Task Force X. Since then, Deadshot has been the heart of virtually every iteration of the Squad, in comics, animation and the live-action incarnation seen on last season of “Arrow” — becoming one of the most popular anti-heroes in the DC Universe. Of course, as cool as Lawton’s iconic mask is, it’s the dichotomy surrounding Deadshot that makes him such an appealing character. On one hand, he’s a trained killer with a death wish, but on the other, he’s a devoted father who wants to make the world a better place for his little girl. Bottom line: Lawton brings to the movie the winning combination of a character with a killer look and a complex personality.
Rick Flag (Tom Hardy)
Including Rick Flag in “the Suicide Squad” film is exciting for longtime fans because it acknowledges the length and breadth of the Squad’s rich history. Flag, created by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru, first appeared in 1959’s “The Brave and the Bold” #25, as the leader of the original Squad when they were a paramilitary unit of non-powered soldiers sent on one-way missions for their country. When Ostrander recreated the team as an elite unit of super villains forced to go on missions for Uncle Sam, Flag was their leader until he met his untimely demise on a mission. It will be interesting to see just which member of the Flag legacy Hardy will be playing in the new film, as three generation of Flags have served with the Squad.
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie)
Harley Quinn doesn’t have a long history with the Suicide Squad, having joined just over three years ago as a founding member of the New 52 version of the team, but since then, she’s become an integral part of the franchise. Though she’s making her live-action debut in “Suicide Squad,” Harley is such an integral part of Batman’s world, there’s a good chance that it’s a matter of when rather than if she’ll join the Joker (more on him later) in sharing screen time with Ben Affleck’s Batman. As far as fans are concerned, the cinematic debut of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s most famous creation has been a long time coming, and as a charter member of the big screen Squad, Harley should find herself with plenty of time in the spotlight and could mirror her current comics success — she stars in one of DC Comics’ most popular ongoing series, second only to “Batman” — as one of the DC movie-verse’s breakout characters.
Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney)
Courtney exudes the presence, the wit, the moral ambiguity and that all-important Australian heritage that has defined the character of Captain Boomerang since Ostrander added the Flash rogue to the Suicide Squad so many years ago. Boomerang has long been the foil to Amanda Waller and Deadshot, a self-serving, slimy scoundrel whose selfishness and immorality has resulted in the on-mission death of more than one Squad member. The “Suicide Squad” film is built in such a way that it could seed future DC films with ready made villains, and with a Flash movie in the works, Boomerang could be the first one to make that leap.
Interesting note: After the character had existed solely in the realm of comics and animation for over five decades, the same week Courtney was announced as the Squad’s Boomerang, the Rogue was brought to life on “Arrow” by Nick Tarabay, Courtney’s “Spartacus” alum!
Enchantress (Cara Delevingne)
Perhaps the most unexpected Suicide Squad member to join the movie is Enchantress, a Bob Haney and Howard Purcell creation who first appeared in 1966’s “Strange Adventures” #187. And while her powers are pretty straightforward magic abilities, she has a rather convoluted history. In her first few appearances, the Enchantress was a hero, but in subsequent appearances in the pages of the “Supergirl” feature in “Adventure Comics,” she was portrayed as a misguided villain, a role she continued to hold for many years. John Ostrander included Enchantress on his first Squad, where she finally found consistency as a mainstay of the title. She later joined the Shadowpact, and became a major player in the magical side of the DC Universe, which leads us to wonder — is Enchantress’ introduction a potential narrative tether to the world of Guillermo Del Toro’s still-gestating “Justice League Dark” movie??
Joker (Jared Leto)
You have to give Jared Leto credit — any actor that dons the purple suit and grease paint will invite comparisons to the Oscar-winning performance of Heath Ledger in 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” Leto (himself an Oscar winner) will have to put his own stamp on the role, and with the villain’s casting, Warner Bros. shows it’s very much aware of this fact. Whether he’s re-introduced as the Squad’s antagonist or as a member, by choosing to unleash Joker into the wider world of the DC Universe, Batman’s greatest foe will stretch his legs on screen in ways he never has, and we’re eager to see the results.
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