Five years after the release of Suicide Squad, the motley team of incarcerated supervillains known as Task Force X is back for another mission. Well, sort of … because this time, Warner Bros. has handed the keys of the franchise over to Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who in turn swapped out the majority of the cast, demanded an R rating, and slapped an article onto the title of the previous movie. This weekend, The Suicide Squad will domestic theaters and HBO Max, and—based on early reviews—it’s going to be bigger, better, and much weirder than its predecessor.
Gunn’s first foray into the DCEU has been described as being “half-sequel, half-reboot”—and hearing the latter should bring a huge sigh of relief from anyone who was left disappointed by the 2016 film. Despite being a hit at the box office, the original Suicide Squad was rightly slammed by critics and audiences alike. The movie was an absolute mess, to the extent that even its director, David Ayer, has disowned it. “I put my life into Suicide Squad,” Ayer wrote on Twitter last week. “I made something amazing—my cut is [an] intricate and emotional journey with some ‘bad people’ who are shit on and discarded (a theme that resonates in my soul). The studio cut is not my movie. Read that again. And my cut is not the 10-week director’s cut—it’s a fully mature edit by Lee Smith standing on the incredibly [sic] work by John Gilroy.”
Whether or not Ayer’s cut ever gets a second look is a story (and a hashtag) for another day—for now, it’s Gunn’s turn. The new director has included only a handful of characters from the first movie: intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), the heartless architect of Task Force X; Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a U.S. special operations forces specialist and Suicide Squad team member; the Australian thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney); and fan favorite Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), fresh off her successful solo debut, Birds of Prey. In addition to the carryovers, The Suicide Squad boasts an extensive cast of big names, from a Saturday Night Live star to ’80s action heroes to the one and only John Cena. Gunn went out of his way to find some of the dumbest characters to ever hit the pages of DC’s long history of comic books, and better still, he banded his team together to fight a fitting enemy: a giant telepathic starfish.
Ahead of The Suicide Squad’s release later this week, let’s take a quick look at each of the new members of this chaotic ensemble, many of whom will certainly not make it to the end of the movie. (Reminder: Beyond the fact that these villains are about to enter a war zone together, each of them has also had an explosive device implanted at the base of their skull that Waller can detonate at will.) Without further ado, here are all the strange yet mostly familiar faces of the retooled Suicide Squad.
After starring in Gunn’s Slither, Super, and Guardians of the Galaxy films, Michael Rooker is teaming up with the director again to take on the role of Savant. Despite previously having blue skin and rocking a small mohawk as Yondu, Rooker’s latest look is somehow even more absurd than his character’s in Guardians. Just look at this glorious wig:
First appearing in a Birds of Prey comic in 2003, Savant is the frivolous heir to a vast fortune. He decided to move to Gotham City to become a vigilante, at least until the Dark Knight himself told him he wasn’t fit for the job—and so, naturally, Savant decided to start a blackmailing business, instead. As with all of these characters being pulled from the comics, it remains to be seen how much his origin will influence his onscreen counterpart. But with Rooker coming in hot with a hairdo like that, it wouldn’t be much of a shock if he’s headed for a swift death in this one.
Not to be outdone by Savant, Javelin sports a long, luscious blond mane, and seems damn proud of it based on his brief appearances in the trailers. Arriving just in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the German is a former Olympian who turned his (you guessed it) javelin-throwing skills into a second career in crime. He first appeared in the comics as a Green Lantern villain, but it now seems as if he was created purely to fit into Gunn’s wild bunch of supervillains. German comedian and actor Flula Borg gave perhaps the best description we’ll get of his character: “If you imagined the most sexy man, or woman, or animal—a goose—and then give this person or animal long hair and a very large toothpick, you would have Javelin.”
When I mentioned that Gunn went out of his way to find some of the dumbest characters in DC Comics, I was mostly referring to the infamous Polka-Dot Man. Please join me in taking a moment to appreciate this wonderfully colorful villain as he launches polka dots at his enemies:
Polka-Dot Man is an early Batman character who made his grand debut in Detective Comics no. 300 (1962) and first appeared among a spate of costumed villains who were inspired by the Caped Crusader’s sensational exploits. His suit is, crucially, covered in polka dots, which can rather miraculously transform into weapons and serve other various purposes. But despite Polka-Dot Man being an undoubtedly ridiculous character in the comics, Gunn hopes to use that to his advantage. “Polka-Dot Man is great, but I did think I needed a character who’s thought of as one of the dumbest ever,” Gunn recently told Gamesradar. “So I went and looked online, ‘Who’s the dumbest DC character of all time?’ and it was Polka-Dot Man. We’ve turned that character who’s a sad, pathetic character into a character who’s depressed because people think he’s stupid. He has a very tragic story that you learn about throughout the film—to be able to add depth to characters who are thought of as the silliest is a fun thing for me to do.”
Just as Gunn helped revitalize the Guardians of the Galaxy and propelled that lesser-known group from the comics into one of Marvel’s most popular franchises, the director seems hell-bent on pulling some of the most ridiculous DC characters out of obscurity. With
David Dastmalchian, who’s no stranger to superhero movies himself, donning this resplendent suit in The Suicide Squad, don’t be surprised if Polka-Dot Man wins your heart over by the time the credits roll.
One of the two original characters created for the film, Ratcatcher 2 should be a Task Force X member to keep an eye on. Twenty-four-year-old Portugese actress Daniela Melchior is the youngest thespian on this list, but her character seems primed to play a major role in the film based on her prominence in the trailers. Ratcatcher 2 has the ability to control and communicate with rats (who appear to be about as charming as Ratatouille’s master chef, Remy), as she seems likely to be the daughter of the original Ratcatcher from the comics. Like many of the other supervillains in The Suicide Squad, the Ratcatcher is one of Batman’s countless bizarre adversaries, a man who trained rats to carry out his bidding from the sewers of Gotham City. Taking after her presumptive father, Ratcatcher 2 will be leading an army of rats in the battle against the massive starfish villain Starro, and she and her rodents have a great chance of stealing some scenes along the way.
The first of two humanoid animals on the team, King Shark is expected to be the heart and soul of The Suicide Squad. Unlike many of his contemporaries, King Shark is already a fairly established supervillain, second to perhaps only Harley Quinn. Along with the character’s comic book appearances that began with Super Boy in the mid-’90s, King Shark has recently appeared in various forms in The Flash and in the delightful animated series Harley Quinn. But rather than following Harley Quinn’s lead in making the would-be predator into a tech-savvy pacifist (so long as you keep him away from blood), Gunn has taken King Shark in the complete opposite direction. Not only does The Suicide Squad’s version of the Aquaman advarsary seem to want to eat any human in sight, but he seems about as capable of holding a conversation as Groot.
Perhaps best of all: after hiring three different actors to voice King Shark, Gunn felt the character just wasn’t working. In the end, there was only one man who could play the role of this dad-bodied devourer: Sylvester Stallone.
As Amanda Waller details in one of the trailers, Robert DuBois is in prison for “putting Superman in the ICU with a Kryptonite bullet.” That’s about as impressive a claim to fame as you’re going to get with this crew of misfits and outcasts. While Harley Quinn will presumably continue to be front and center in The Suicide Squad, Idris Elba’s newcomer, Bloodsport, is positioned to be one of its main characters as well.
Based on the trailers, DuBois is the only villain in the movie with any familial connections, as it’s revealed that the ever-ruthless Waller is using his daughter’s impending court date to lure him onto her unique task force. While securing his daughter’s freedom would almost certainly be one of the more emotional beats in this ultra-violent film, the only way Bloodsport is topping his hit on Superman is if he manages to take down the kaiju starfish himself.
Fitting in nicely with most of these terribly named supervillains is Mongal, an alien warlord from a planet called Debstam IV. She’s the daughter of the classic Superman and Justice League villain Mongul, a rare being in the DC universe capable of challenging even the Man of Steel. In her second stint in the DCEU following her appearance as an Amazonian in Wonder Woman, actress and black belt martial artist Mayling Ng returns to play an even more powerful, and significantly more orange warrior. “Mongal has super strength, super speed,” Ng explains in a teaser. “She’s just, like, a super bitch.” Noted.
There really isn’t too much to say about this hellish creature that will soon invade movie and TV screens (and likely your nightmares) across the country. I mean, my God, just look at him:
Standing in as this absolutely haunting beast is the director’s younger brother and frequent collaborator, Sean Gunn, who is pulling double duty in the film as Weasel and the Batman villain Calendar Man. (While Calendar Man does not appear to be a Task Force X member in the movie, it seems as if the Gunns simply couldn’t resist including a villain who only commits crimes on holidays and other significant dates.) In the comics, Weasel was a fully-formed human named John Monroe who committed murders while wearing a costume rather than being, well, whatever this creature in the movie actually is. Even his teammates aren’t sure what he is. Either way, it’s at least safe to say that adorable plush toys of Weasel won’t be selling out everywhere like they did for Rocket and Baby Groot.
The Pete Davidson Experience continues to evolve before our very eyes. A year after his star turn in The King of Staten Island, the 27-year-old SNL actor finds himself in a superhero movie in the role of Blackguard.
Davidson’s version of Blackguard has unfortunately shed his iconic purple ponytail from the comics in favor of looking exactly like, well, Pete Davidson. (Honestly, he looks like a DC character in his everyday life, so why fix something that isn’t broken.) Like many of his outcast teammates, Blackguard isn’t exactly the most memorable character from the comics, as the Booster Gold villain is best remembered for being a big ’ol dummy and getting his head chopped off in battle. And based on Blackguard’s (understandable) fear of Weasel’s mere presence, I’d say that the Pete Davidson Experience in The Suicide Squad may unfortunately be very short-lived.
Oh, and before I forget: Would you like to know Blackguard’s real name? It’s Richard “Dick” Hertz. Chad is surely going to have some fun with that one.
Only a few years removed from his stint serving as the 12th Doctor on Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi enters the DCEU as the Thinker. All the CW Arrowverse-heads out there might recognize the character from his appearance in Flash, but his origins extend all the way back to 1943, when he first went toe-to-toe with the OG Flash, Jay Garrick. Four different characters have taken up the mantle of the Thinker over the years. (Despite all of them sharing their defining traits of heightened intelligence, apparently none could come up with a better name.) The original Thinker in the comics was named Clifford DeVoe, and he became one of Gotham City’s many villains after failing in his career as a lawyer. To amplify his already superior intellect, the guy uses a metal device on his head called a [pause for dramatic effect] “Thinking Cap.”
Aside from being wicked smart, the Thinker also has a tendency to betray his allies (especially Thinker II, Cliff Carmichael, who gets recruited into the Suicide Squad in the comics as well), so there’s a high chance that the villain tries to out-villain his new teammates on screen.
The second original character created for the film is T.D.K., or “The Detachable Kid.” Played by one of Gunn’s longtime friends and another Slither alum, Nathan Fillion, T.D.K. has the truly twisted ability to, uh, detach his limbs from his body and telepathically control them. It looks both as disgusting and hilarious as it sounds based on the teasers. As Gunn describes him: “T.D.K. is just a guy whose arms and legs come off. That’s his only power.” While he’d probably be a fantastic petty criminal and an intriguing athlete in any sport, it’s hard to imagine the guy will make it far on the battlefield with skills like that.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Peacemaker. When approaching the role, John Cena was told to be “like a douchey Captain America,” a direction that I’m sure Gunn delighted to give after being freed from working under the more family-friendly constraints at Disney. Peacemaker, according to Gunn, “believes in peace at any cost, no matter how many people he needs to kill along the way.”
With his comedic and action-hero sensibilities, the hulking WWE superstar seems to be a perfect fit for the squad, like so many of the actors listed above. And while Peacemaker may be new to many, the character first appeared in the 1960s within the pages of Charlton Comics’ Fightin’ 5 before it was acquired by DC Comics. Peacemaker, whose real name is Christopher Smith, seems to be one of the few supervillains on the squad who has a strong chance of survival due to the fact that Cena is already set to reprise the role in his own upcoming spinoff series on HBO Max. The show will arrive as soon as January 2022, and will feature Gunn as the writer on all eight of its episodes and as the director on five of them.
On Friday, we’ll finally see whether Gunn can make good on the Suicide Squad’s second chance and deliver on all the hype surrounding the new movie. But maybe just as importantly, we’ll also find out just how many of these bizarre new villains make it to the end credits.