This article contains major spoilers for The Suicide Squad. We have a spoiler free review here.
The DCEU is alive and well and dividing its time between Corto Maltese and Belle Reve prison. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad gives us the most DC characters in live action in any one movie ever assembled!
OK, fine, the vast majority of them die. And a fair portion of them most folks have never even heard of. But it still counts!
And yes, there are DC Comics Easter eggs in the movie, but perhaps not as many as you might expect. So we’ve decided to split the difference. We’re gonna give you the lowdown on all the characters, especially the obscure ones, and talk about what their existence in this movie means (or could mean) for the wider DCEU. And we’ll still give you all the DC Easter eggs we were able to spot. A real bargain, even though this article didn’t cost you anything!
Let’s take it from the top (cue the Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died”)
What else can be said about Harley Quinn that we haven’t already said a thousand times? You know who she is, you know where she’s from, and you know all about Margot Robbie’s iconic, for-the-ages performance.
And while the DCEU is pretty loosely connected these days, this is definitely the same Harley from the 2016 movie, although somewhat less male gaze-y in her attire, and one who has definitely moved on from her relationship with the Joker (who doesn’t even get mentioned in this film!). Harley already knowing Rick Flag, Captain Boomerang, and Amanda Waller is all the proof you need that this is a sequel to that film, however loose it may be.
Harley’s relationship status and attitude means that the events of 2020’s Birds of Prey movie also definitely happened, and they’re even referenced (albeit in passing). Hell, you could even say that Harley’s grand escape and the “Harley-vision” that accompanies it comes right out of some of the weirder moments of Birds of Prey. But that’s basically it. We’d like more of Robbie as Harley on our screens, though.
What does Harley Quinn mean for the DCEU? Harley’s intro in 2016’s Suicide Squad helped establish that of all the characters kicking around the DCEU, Batman was the most experienced, as she, Joker, and Bats shared a history dating back several years. At this point, Harley is practically the linchpin of old DCEU continuity, and one of the last remaining cinematic ties to Ben Affleck’s portrayal of the Dark Knight.
The version of Bloodsport we meet in this film bears very little resemblance to his comic book incarnation. The comics version of Bloodsport first appeared in 1987’s Superman #4 by John Byrne, and while elements of the comics character made it to the film, the guy Idris Elba is playing is quite different from his comics counterpart. Let’s start with the similarities…
The name, both the codename and his real name of Robert Du Bois? Check. The thing about him shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet? Also check. The rest? Ummm…it’s a loose interpretation.
Here, Bloodsport has a seemingly never ending arsenal of high tech weapons, which fold and collapse out of each other, meaning he’s seemingly always got the exact tool for the job. But in the comics, Bloodsport was equipped with a tiny teleporter (thanks Lex Luthor!) which allowed him to seemingly “materialize” whatever weapon he needed at any given moment. The comics version of Bloodsport was much less of a “purely competent badass” and much more of a tragic, traumatized, and deluded figure…and a mass shooter, to boot.
This isn’t quite a comics thing, but when Bloodsport throws his earpiece in disgust near the end of the film after having enough of taking orders from Waller and company, it’s vaguely reminiscent of the final shot in the first (and by far the best) Dirty Harry movie, when Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan, disillusioned with the constraints of the system, flings his badge and walks away.
What does Bloodsport mean for the DCEU? It’s a little frustrating to know that Henry Cavill’s DCEU Superman is still out there having adventures that we’ll probably never get to see. Cavill deserves another chance in the cape, damn it! Alas, Warner Bros. seems to have different (and very cool) plans for Superman on the big screen these days.
Peacemaker is a weird character, folks. The character first appeared back in 1966, and wasn’t a DC character…he was published by the now defunct Charlton Comics, whose characters like the Question, Blue Beetle, and Captain Atom were later acquired by DC and folded into their own continuity. And you know what else those characters have in common? They became the inspirations for the main characters in Watchmen, with Watchmen’s Comedian functioning as a kind of adaptation of Peacemaker.
Comics Peacemaker is pretty different (except in looks) to the guy we meet in this film, though. Initially a pacifist using non-lethal weapons, he was reinvented by DC in the ‘80s as a bloodthirsty character with some serious mental issues. Namely, he believed that the souls of the people he killed were then trapped in his distinctive helmet and talking to him. Uhhhh…
He’s popped up a handful of times in DC continuity over the last 35 years, but there’s no version of the character you could safely consider definitive. He’s appearing in the current (and very good) run of DC’s Suicide Squad comics, as well. Like Bloodsport, the origin explained for him onscreen here has nothing to do with his comics counterpart.
What does Peacemaker mean for the DCEU? Well, he’s still alive (as we see in that post-credits scene) for starters. He’s also getting his own HBO Max series, which James Gunn is showrunning, writing, and directing quite a bit of. And since he’s still loyal to Amanda Waller, it would seem that any future Suicide Squad sequels will rest firmly on John Cena’s broad shoulders.
Ah, Rick Flag, we hardly knew ye. Joel Kinnnaman gives Flag a much more likeable makeover in this film, and the character is even rocking a yellow t-shirt in honor of the John Ostrander-written Suicide Squad comics of the 1980s that influenced so much of this film.
In the comics, Rick was a career military man, like his father before him (we assume this is also Rick Flag, Jr. just like in the comics). Screen Rick’s sense of duty and honor would seem to indicate that’s the case here, too.
What does Rick Flag mean for the DCEU? Well…unfortunately, he’s dead, so not much. Unless it turns out that Task Force X has been cloning Rick Flags for use on Suicide Squad missions for years or something, we don’t expect to see him again. In any case, that sure was an epic way for him to go out!
Whoever thought that a ‘90s Superboy villain would become one of the most beloved characters of the blockbuster season? The Suicide Squad isn’t King Shark’s first foray into live action (that would be The Flash TV series) but this is easily his biggest stage yet.
Since his first appearance in 1994, King Shark has been a Superboy baddie, an Aquaman villain, has fought for the bad guys in assorted Crises, a kinda ally to a different version of Aquaman, and our personal favorite, a member of the Squad-adjacent team of antiheroes and mercenaries known as the Secret Six, where writer Gail Simone delivered some of the character’s most memorable and delightful moments.
Oh, and when we first meet him he’s trying to read William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience. But it’s upside down.
What does King Shark mean for the DCEU? Well…we would very much like to see him show up in Aquaman 2, known as Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. It would be a tremendous missed opportunity if not, even if it’s just for a cameo. Don’t those weird/adorable/scary Clyrax just look like they were designed for James Wan’s Aquaman world?
And c’mon, James Gunn’s next DC movie should absolutely be Secret Six, where King Shark is really most at home!
Viola Davis is a national treasure, and her Amanda Waller performance makes the character perhaps the most malevolent of all these kind of not-quite-good guys. Sure, we’ve had other live action Amanda Waller performances, but nobody captures the no-nonsense, morally gray Waller like Davis has here.
What does Amanda Waller mean for the DCEU? At the end of the first Suicide Squad movie, we had that little tease of Amanda dealing with Bruce Wayne and General Wade Eiling. While the DCEU as a whole isn’t terribly connected these days, it would be great if we could see more of Davis’ Waller lurking in the shadows, pulling the strings, and maybe even putting events in motion that ultimately lead to the formation of that aforementioned Secret Six team…
That being said, we’re not holding our breath for it, either. Then again, it’s quite easy to imagine a world where Waller is taking a pronounced interest in someone like Black Adam coming out of hiding.
The villain of The Suicide Squad actually began life as…a Justice League villain! And not just any Justice League villain, the FIRST Justice League villain! Yes, Starro has been kicking around DC Comics since 1960 and the very first appearance of the JLA.
While kaiju-sized from the start, Starro’s very creepy ability to spawn spores that are essentially facehuggers didn’t come around until a post-Alien world. This suddenly made Starro a much cooler, and more in-demand threat, and despite there being 17 years between their first and second appearance, since then, Starro has become a regular pain-in-the-face for the entire DC Universe.
Thinker naming the creature “Starro the Conqueror” as a derisive nickname is a reference to how the character is referred to in the comics…and it was literally the text on the cover of its first appearance.
We get lots of imagery of group shots of “Starro zombies,” folks wearing the ol’ Starro facehugger. That’s a recurring image in the comics, and one that comes to mind is the cover of Justice League Europe #26.
Oh, and that’s Taika Waititi voicing Starro, in his second role in the film! (more on the other one in a moment)
What does Starro mean for the DCEU? Well, aside from the fact that we’ve been robbed of a Justice League vs. Starro movie now, there’s no reason to believe that we couldn’t potentially have Starro back. A spore could have escaped. Starro themself could be a giant spore of its own hivemind.
And while it’s unlikely that we’ll get Starro as a primary antagonist ever again in a DCEU film, it would be pretty cool to see the creature or the species referenced in something like the upcoming HBO Max Green Lantern Corps TV series.
One of the few returning characters from the first film, Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang…dies pretty early in the movie. He’s even more gleefully over the top here than he was in 2016, which is pretty appropriate. Boomer was a founding member of the comic book version of the Squad (reluctantly of course) where he was always portrayed as the most dislikeable and abrasive of all the characters.
What does Captain Boomerang mean for the DCEU? His death here is a genuine surprise, though. Captain Boomerang has always been a pretty high profile Flash villain. And yes, we had that little cameo of him and Ezra Miller’s Flash in the theatrical version of Justice League, Courtney seemed destined to appear one day in at least a small role in some version of The Flash movie for WB. Alas, that now appears to be off the table. Ah, well…
There have been so many different versions of Thinker in DC Comics history and…Peter Capaldi is playing none of them. Not a one.
This is a brand-new (sorta) version of the character named Gaius Greeves. He looks like an unnamed version of Thinker who appeared in DC’s post-New 52 continuity in 2014, though, and that character definitely had a Squad connection.
What does Thinker mean for the DCEU? Historically, Thinker in various incarnations has been a Flash villain. Hell, a version of the character was the primary baddie on an entire season of The Flash! But like our pal Captain Boomerang, any hope of seeing Thinker match wits with the DCEU Flash are now over.
Although wouldn’t it be kinda cool if the DCEU gets around to introducing Jay Garrick and we learn that ol’ Gaius once had a beef with him? OK, fine, we’re not counting on it, either.
Poor Abner Krill couldn’t be more different than his comic book version…despite his remarkably accurate costume. Polka-Dot Man is a Batman villain dating all the way back to 1962, except there, he wasn’t the unfortunate recipient of an alien virus with grotesque polka-dot mutations and vomiting and…oh you get the picture.
Comics Abner Krill just had a costume full of trick, high-tech polka-dots. He um…he was not a major villain.
What does Polka-Dot Man mean for the DCEU? Other than the STAR Labs connection, and we believe this is the first mention of STAR Labs since the “Snyderverse” collapsed, not a hell of a lot. Abner is dead, and he ain’t coming back. Although it’d be pretty awesome if it turns out that it was Batman who put Abner away, since we know that in DCEU continuity Bats has been punching bad guys longer than anyone else.
Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2 is a brand new character created for this movie. We think she rules. However, if you’re looking for a comic book connection, we need to go back to her “dad” played in that cool Taika Waititi cameo.
Ratcatcher first appeared in a 1988 issue of Detective Comics, where he was a disgruntled former murderer who was kidnapping everyone responsible for putting him in prison, and holding them prisoner in the sewers. Oh, and he controlled rats. He was far less sweet and charming than either of our DCEU Ratcatchers. Oh, and that story has a panel where Batman vomits sewage because he nearly drowns in it. Good times.
But even that pretty malevolent comics Ratcatcher probably isn’t quite the Ratcatcher of the DCEU. After all, Ratcatcher 2 is named Cleo Cazo, and comics Ratcatcher was Otis Flanagan, and Otis didn’t seem nearly as sympathetic as Taika’s performance here.
What does Ratcatcher mean for the DCEU? Other than the possibility that this was someone else Batman put in Belle Reve? Not a lot. Although since Ratcatcher 2 lives on, we’d love to see her in another Suicide Squad movie, or make her a cornerstone of a live action Secret Six or something.
In the comics, as in this film, there isn’t a heckuva lot to say about Savant. What’s interesting is that he was a key player in one of Gail Simone’s earliest Birds of Prey storylines. Michael Rooker looks remarkably like his DC Comics counterpart in that wig, though.
What does Savant mean for the DCEU? Going forward? He’s dead, so not much. But in the past? Is it possible he ran afoul of Birds of Prey’s Huntress or Black Canary and that’s how he ended up in the Squad? We’d like to think so.
Also, one interesting bit about ol’ Savant. He started off as a guy who thought he could be a costumed vigilante. Of course, he was in it for all the wrong reasons and got a stern talking to from Batman and that set him on his life of crime. We’d like to imagine Ben Affleck’s Batman telling Michael Rooker’s Savant “you’re not morally equipped for this job,” just like he did in the comics!
“The Detachable Kid” is actually a riff on an obscure Legion of Super-Heroes and Legion of Substitute Heroes character named…Arm-Fall-Off Boy. I couldn’t make that one up if I tried, folks. His powers are identical, although his comics look is pretty different.
What does TDK mean for the DCEU? OK, so bear with me for a moment…what if TDK is actually from the 31st Century and ended up back here somehow before he found himself stuck with the Squad? Until they say otherwise, this is my headcanon. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go write up a headline called “How The Suicide Squad Confirms the Legion of Super-Heroes in the DCEU” which will get me hate mail for the rest of the summer.
Blackguard is a pretty minor DC villain, mostly notable for being the baddie in the very first Booster Gold comic! He’s a much beefier, more heavily armored character than the guy we get on screen here, but honestly…not much more interesting. And yes, his name really is Dick Hertz.
What does Blackguard mean for the DCEU? Look, if Blackguard exists, Booster Gold exists. I’ve been waiting for a Booster Gold movie forever now, and it’s long overdue. It’s time. Come to think of it, this would also be perfect for James Gunn to direct.
Weasel was a Firestorm villain from the 1980s who…was actually a dude in a weasel suit. A disgruntled college loser who took revenge on people later in years for uh, calling him a weasel back in their younger days. The character was later revamped as a more kind of, well, traditionally animalistic/weaselly figure, but the version we meet in this film has more in common with Bloom County’s Bill the Cat than any of his DC Comics incarnations.
What does Weasel mean for the rest of the DCEU? He’s still alive! Count your children! Bring on Firestorm! OK, but in all seriousness, Firestorm would look pretty cool on a big screen budget.
Javelin was a Green Lantern villain, believe it or not. See, back in the day, Green Lantern was powerless against the color yellow, hence this guy’s color scheme. Flula Borg has a remarkably accurate translation of Javelin’s comics costume in this film, and the character is pretty much exactly as he was portrayed in his early comics appearances, cool accent and all.
Amazingly, this is the second Watchmen connection of this piece (wait, what?). You see, Javelin was created by Len Wein (editor of Watchmen) and Dave Gibbons (co-creator and artist of Watchmen). So, not quite as direct a connection as Peacemaker, but a connection nonetheless.
What does Javelin mean for the DCEU? As far as I’m concerned, this is proof that Earth has a Green Lantern, despite the fact that we haven’t seen a modern day, human Green Lantern Corps member in official DCEU continuity yet. But someone had to put him in Belle Reve, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s Hal Jordan.
Mongal is a member of a warlike, and immensely powerful alien race. She’s also the daughter of Mongul, the ruler of Warworld and the villain of one of the greatest Superman stories ever told, “For the Man Who Has Everything” by the Watchmen creative team of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Mongal um…didn’t live long in the comics, either.
What does Mongal mean for the DCEU? If Mongal exists, then this is proof that Mongul and Warworld exists. And once again, I am annoyed that Henry Cavill isn’t getting another shot as Superman. An adaptation of “For the Man Who Has Everything” would actually be a brilliant move for the DCEU, albeit a weird one.
If Warner Bros. wanted to do something more traditional with the character, the Superman “Exile” story would also make for great big screen fodder, taking Superman offworld and into Mongul’s gladiatorial contests. Anyway…there’s two more DCEU Superman movies that should have happened for ya!
That’s Sean Gunn in a cameo as Calendar Man (yep) shouting “You fucking pussy” in Belle Reve.
What does Calendar Man mean for the DCEU? Hey, maybe we’ll get a live action adaptation of Batman: The Long Halloween one day! On second thought, maybe that’s not such a great idea.
And right behind him? That would be Double Down, a playing card themed villain perhaps “best” known as a minor Flash villain.
What does Double Down mean for the DCEU? Pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Feel free to imagine he was locked up by Ezra Miller’s Flash, though.
The fortress known as Jotunheim here does indeed have a comics connection. It was the site of the comic book Squad’s very first mission in 1987’s Suicide Squad #1. That being said, the nature of the mission itself and even the location couldn’t have been more different than what we got in the movie, but it’s a nice little callback.
It isn’t the only reference to that famed first issue, either! The yellow shirt Rick Flag wears throughout this movie (minus the logo) was also pioneered in that comic, and there’s also…
Steve Agee’s non-King Shark motion capture performance is as John Economos, one of Waller’s flunkys. In the comics, Economos is the warden of Belle Reve, and he also first appeared in Suicide Squad #1 which was written by…
Wait, John Ostrander isn’t a DC character! No, but he IS the person most responsible for the Suicide Squad as we know them. He has a cameo in the film as “Dr. Fitzgibbon.” This isn’t a DC Comics character, but it IS the second time Gunn has snuck a “Dr. Fitzgibbon” into his films…the other was in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie when a Dr. Fitzgibbon was treating Meredith Quill as she was dying.
A throwaway line in the film refers to “Senator Cray,” and this is no accident either. Senator Joseph Cray was indeed a minor Suicide Squad character, who only appeared in three stories. He was corrupt, so the idea that anyone is playing golf with him in the DCEU doesn’t say great things about them.
DC fans will recognize the fictional nation of Corto Maltese from its central role in Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley’s incredible The Dark Knight Returns. From there, you’ll know it from its mentions in Tim Burton’s Batman movie and various namedrops on assorted Arrowverse TV shows. The Suicide Squad marks the first time we’ve spent significant time there on the big screen.
But the Corto Maltese name goes back further than The Dark Knight Returns. Miller named the fictional country after Hugo Pratt’s beloved comic book series featuring a sailor of the same name.
It doesn’t appear that Silvio Luna, Matteo Suarez, or the Herrera family depicted in the movie have any additional comics connections, though.
What does Corto Maltese mean for the DCEU? Well, if we ever get that live action Dark Knight Returns adaptation with Ben Affleck, this place will be a movie hotspot once again!
It’s always a nice touch when we see a TV broadcast coming from a GBS network. GBS is the Galaxy Broadcasting System, one of the biggest fictional news conglomerates in the DC Universe. It’s owned by Morgan Edge, who depending on what version of the character you’re looking at has connections to Darkseid and Apokolips (paging fans of Zack Snyder’s Justice League) or Krypton (hello Superman & Lois!).
What does GBS mean for the DCEU? Not much, but it’s popped up in several movies now, and it’s one of the few pieces of worldbuilding connective tissue still holding the DCEU together.
Spot anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!