Saving the world with supervillains
Imagine living in a world where an all-powerful alien like Superman doesn't just exist, but he's capable of major global destruction with little effort. How do you prepare for a (potentially inevitable) disaster scenario where your trusted superheroes end up disenfranchised and start going rogue? If you're Amanda Waller, you assemble the Suicide Squad, of course: a cadre of supervillains and antiheroes taking on the most dangerous missions in the world in exchange for shortened prison sentences. And on August 5, 2016, their comic book exploits finally get the celluloid treatment when Suicide Squad hits theaters.
The Suicide Squad assembles a variety DC Comics' most unscrupulous and unsavory characters and expects them to get along well enough to complete their objective - which, of course, leads to some darkly comedic moments. There are the iconic villains, of course - everyone knows the Joker - but not every member of the Squad is as well-known. If you're looking at pictures of Slipknot and thinking to yourself, "Wait, who?", read this guide for a full run-down of who's who on the Suicide Squad - their origins, their powers, and what they're up to in the film.
Played by: Viola Davis
First appearance: Legends #1
Alter ego: None
Origin: Waller escaped from the Chicago projects after the murder of her husband and two children, earning a doctorate in political science and making a move into politics. Eventually, she learns of the existence of two prior incarnations of the Suicide Squad, and armed with this knowledge, sets out to create a third. The White House approves, and puts her in charge of the world's most dangerous rogues gallery in history.
Powers: None, but that's what the Suicide Squad is for.
The movie: She'll likely be doing what she does in the comics: acting as commander of the Suicide Squad, giving them their orders, and figuring how how best to clear the damages with the US government. Since the film is an origin story of sorts, we'll likely see her seek out and recruit each member of the squad. Hopefully we'll get to see her kick some ass, too - she did that a lot in the comics and cartoon show.
Played by: Jared Leto
First appearance: Batman #1
Alter ego: Unknown
Origin: A few different origin stories have cropped up over the years, retelling bits and changing details here and there. In Detective Comics #168, he's revealed to be a criminal known as the Red Hood, while in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, he's an ex-engineer who tried to pursue his dreams as a stand-up comic and ended up bombing hard. Here, he takes on the Red Hood persona to help some criminals rob his former employer blind. Regardless of the minor details, the final events remain the same: Batman intervenes and the man who becomes the Joker ends up falling into a vat of chemicals, and emerges with white skin, red lips, green hair, and an undying hatred of Batman.
Powers: The Joker doesn't exactly have powers, exactly - at least, nothing of the 'lasers-from-hands' variety. Instead, The Joker relies on his keen intellect and his vast array of gadgets. He's a criminal mastermind, often acting several steps ahead of his pursuers, and his tools are typically twisted versions of retro parlor tricks, like a hand buzzer that can actually kill you. He loves working with chemicals, too, whether it's poisonous gas or toxins - a throwback to his prior life.
The movie: Besides getting a new set of tats and a nice grill on his teeth, he's probably committing crimes with with his partner, Harley Quinn. A few trailers have shown the two driving a getaway car together, while other scenes show The Joker harassing some punks and firing a Tommy gun, so expect some mischief on his part. It's hard to say what role he'll play in the film, though - will he work with the Squad, helping out Waller and her assembled gang of misfits, or is he this story's villain? One thing's for sure: Jared Leto has been doing everything he can to step into the role and embody the Clown Prince of Darkness' unhinged personality while making the character all his own.
Played by: Margot Robbie
First appearance: Batman: The Animated Series, "Joker's Favor"
Alter ego: Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel
Origin: As a psychiatric intern at Arkham Asylum, Dr. Quinzel has seen her fair share of freaks and murderers pass through the hospital's doors. But there was one patient that was able to get under her skin and give her a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome: The Joker. Dr. Quinzel helped The Joker escape multiple times, until her supervisors caught wise, stripping her of her credentials and firing her. It was then that she decided to join up with The Joker and became Harley Quinn.
Powers: Like The Joker, Harley Quinn doesn't have any supernatural powers, but she's picked up a trick or two working under the Clown Prince of Crime as his protge, often using the same cunning and trickery The Joker does.
The movie: Amanda Waller may be the commander of the Suicide Squad, and Rick Flag may be their leader on the ground, but Harley Quinn is the star. Trailers have shown Quinn having a grand old time, stealing from store windows, beating up punks, and generally having a laissez-faire attitude about the whole life-or-death thing. Quinn's been a fan favorite ever since the beginning, so it makes sense that WB is reportedly working on a spin-off featuring her and several other iconic women of the DC Comics universe.
Played by: Joel Kinnaman
First Appearance: The Brave and the Bold #59
Origin: Rick Flag is actually the name given to three different characters. There's Rick Flag, Sr., who led the very first incarnation of the Suicide Squad in WW2; a group of hardened US troops who took on some of the war's most decisive - and deadly - missions. There's Rick Flag Jr. - he's the one most heavily featured in the comics, who takes up the position as commander of the Suicide Squad after his father's death, though this group - formed by Amanda Waller - ends up being filled with supervillains instead of hardened government soldiers. Then there's Rick Flag III, who has a minor role in the comics, spending a lot of his time kidnapped by Koschei the Deathless. The film is likely going to follow Rick Flag Jr., as he is the one most closely associated with the Suicide Squad we've come to know.
Powers: Like Deadshot, Flag doesn't have superpowers, exactly, but he is highly trained for a variety of ops, and is a specialist in demolitions, stealth, armed and unarmed combat, and has shown his aptitude as a gifted leader.
The movie: While Amanda Waller is responsible for the team's oversight, Rick Flag is the Suicide Squad's direct supervisor while on missions. It's his job to make sure this ragtag bunch of villains doesn't, y'know, do a bunch of villain-type stuff when they should be helping out.
Played by: Will Smith
First appearance: Batman #59
Alter ego: Floyd Lawton
Origin: A traumatic incident at a young age has influenced Lawton to pursue a life of crime. Lawton's mother persuaded his brother to kill their father, and Lawton attempted to spare both of their lives by shooting the gun out of his brother's hands. The tree branch he was sitting in broke, the shot went wide and ended up killing his brother, rather than merely injuring him. As as result, Lawton has a deathwish, training himself as a powerful assassin and taking on the riskiest jobs available to him. Hence, why he joins the Suicide Squad.
Powers: Deadshot doesn't have any supernatural powers either, but his physical prowess and marksmanship training has made him one of the most effective assassins in the DC Universe.
The movie: He's seen carrying around loads of guns - practicing with them, loading and unloading them, firing them, etc. So he'll probably do a lot of shooting, there's no doubt about that. But even with Rick Flag as their leader in the field, Deadshot appears to be their de facto second-in-command, helping boost morale and directing his teammates in a pinch.
Played by: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
First appearance: Batman #357
Alter ego: Waylon Jones
Origin: Jones was born with a birth defect that progressively turned him more crocodile-like as he aged, causing him to be mocked and ostracized for much of his youth. Eventually, he joined a travelling carnival as an alligator wrestler, and was able to break their backs with his bare hands. Eventually, he realized his super-strength was more suited for a life of crime, and began calling himself Killer Croc, after his sideshow name.
Powers: His birth defect has turned out to be a boon for Jones, granting him with hard, nearly impenetrable skin, super-strength, speed, agility, and a reptile-like healing factor.
The movie: Killer Croc's got muscles on top of his muscles, so he's going to be handy for cracking more than a few skulls.
Played by: Cara Delevingne
First appearance: Strange Adventures #187
Alter ego: June Moone
Origin: Her first appearance cast her as a freelance artist who, while attending a dinner party, stumbles across a secret room inhabited by a powerful being known as Dzamor, who transforms her from the blonde Moone to the black-haired Enchantress. Her next appearance pits her against Supergirl as the villain, a role she continues to play throughout her history.
Powers: Enchantress has an array of magical powers at her fingertips, including the ability to control the elements, teleportation, telepathy, and even flight.
The movie: I'm… not really sure what she's up to. She's got paranormal powers, that's a given, but is she actually working with the Suicide Squad? There are rumblings that she may actually be the movie's villain - but WB is, of course, keeping awfully quiet about why the Suicide Squad is being assembled in the first place and who they're even trying to stop. Perhaps this is why?
Played by: Karen Fukuhara
First appearance: Brave and the Bold #200
Alter ego: Tatsu Yamashiro
Origin: Tatsu was living a normal life in Japan when she caught the eye of two brothers, Maseo and Takeo. She ended up favoring Maseo, marrying him and giving birth to twins. This upset the jealous Takeo, who joined the yakuza and quickly rose through the ranks. Takeo came into possession of two ancient swords, one of which was known as the Soultaker, a weapon with mystical properties. Takeo challenged Maseo to a duel, killing him with the Soultaker and accidentally setting fire to Tatsu and Maseo's house. Tatsu disarmed Takeo and fled the burning house at the Maseo's behest, his voice now emanating from the blade. With everyone she loves now dead, and Takeo at large, Tatsu begins her martial arts training, taking on the persona of Katana.
Powers: Tatsu's training has transformed her into an expert martial artist, specializing in hand-to-hand and sword combat.
The movie: In the comics, Katana joins the Suicide Squad of her own volition, so she's not beholden to the same leash that the other supervillains are. As such, she works with Commander Rick Flag to keep the other members in check, in addition to slicing up unsuspecting fools with her expert samurai skills.
Played by: Jay Hernandez
First appearance: All-Star Western #2
Alter ego: Currently, Chato Santana, succeeding Lazarus Lane and Rafael Sandoval
Origin: El Diablo has gone through a couple of character changes over the years. Lazarus Lane was a bank teller living in the American Southwest during the 19th century. After being attacked by gang of thieves, struck by lightning, and left for dead, a shaman revived him from his coma, inspiring him to become El Diablo and work for justice. Fast-forward to today, when a criminal named Chato Santana gets hospitalized during a shootout with the police. He meets a comatose Lazarus Lane, who somehow transfers his powers to Santana.
Powers: Appropriate to his namesake, El Diablo has pyrokinesis: the ability to create and control fire with his mind.
The movie: El Diablo has a checkered past, and his life is filled with regret. As a result, he's much more reserved than his off-the-hinge teammates, and is more keen to avoid lighting people up with his flame hands. In a recent trailer, it takes some goading from Deadshot to get El Diablo to use his powers - so expect him to be a tiny beacon of sanity in this madhouse… at least until the gloves officially come off, so to speak.
Played by: Jai Courtney
First appearance: Flash #117
Alter ego: George "Digger" Harkness
Origin: Harkness was born in Australia, the illegitimate son of an Australian woman and a US soldier. He grew up in poverty, and spent much of his youth creating boomerangs out of wood and training himself to throw them. He became a performer working for a toy company owned by his father, but was ridiculed and driven to a life of crime.
Powers: Really, really good at throwing boomerangs - many of which are either bladed, spew acid, or explode.
The movie: He'll spend most of his time quipping (with an Australian accent) and throwing boomerangs, most likely.
Played by: Adam Beach
First appearance: Fury of Firestorm #28
Alter ego: Christopher Weiss
Origin: As a relatively minor character in the DC Universe, Slipknot's backstory is rather half-baked. Essentially, Weiss worked at a chemical factory (as one does), and developed a formula that could turn ropes into metal. He then took those ropes and turned to a life of crime (as one does).
Powers: Ropes made out of metal. He's an effective assassin, too, but still. Ropes. Made out of metal.
The movie: Finally Slipknot has a platform to show a worldwide audience the benefits of learning how to tie knots in Boy Scouts. Ropes, people.