Who Will Be in James Gunn's 'The Suicide Squad'?
Warner Bros. has squad goals. Thursday evening fans learned that James Gunn will be directing a new iteration of the Suicide Squad for release on Aug. 6, 2021. The writer-director, who was infamously fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 following the resurfacing of controversial jokes made on Twitter in 2008 and 2009, became attached to pen the movie last October. The Suicide Squad will hit almost five years to the day after David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016). Ayer’s film, while critically maligned, proved to be a box office success and went on to make $746.8 million worldwide.
Despite the negative reviews, and hasty tonal edits by Warner Bros. — an overreaction to the negative response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice earlier that year, Ayer’s film brought an awareness of a largely unknown property to general audiences. Suicide Squad may not have elevated the genre, but it offered a unique perspective that hinged on cast diversity and helped make Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn a household name. But the next time we see the Squad, they’ll be quite different.
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While still taking place in the continuity of the DC film universe, Gunn’s movie is being described as a reboot and will feature “a mostly all-new cast of characters and actors.” While it’s certainly a loss that most of the characters we were introduced to in 2016 won’t be returning, the concept of the Suicide Squad relies on a rotating group of members pulled for different missions. We should take term reboot lightly as it holds different meanings for studios, and could presumably see some of the absent team members return in sequels or in another corner of the DC movie universe. The first film was held together by Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Will Smith’s Deadshot. With Robbie kicking around with the Birds of Prey and Will Smith being Will Smith, one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood, it wouldn’t be surprising if neither character returns for this film.
Ayer’s Suicide Squad drew most of its inspiration from DC’s New 52 iteration of the team. Gunn is said to have been digging into the original '80s incarnation of the Suicide Squad created by John Ostrander. With that in mind, and the hopes that Squad director Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), leader Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), and bad penny Boomerang (Jai Courtney) will return, here are a few ideas on members we’d like to see join The Suicide Squad.
One of the original members of the Suicide Squad, Ben Turner a.k.a. Bronze Tiger has a storied history in the DC Universe. As one of the world’s best martial artists, he joined the League of Assassins, trained Cassandra Cain (who will make her big screen debut in Birds of Prey), and has partnered with Batman and Deathstroke on several occasions. Turner spent most of his early career as a brainwashed assassin before being deprogrammed by Waller who used his talents in the Suicide Squad. Turner is one of the only members of the original Suicide Squad, alongside Flagg, who wasn’t a villain and was often used as the team’s moral compass. Despite that moral compass, Turner is possessed by a rage that channels through his identity of the Bronze Tiger in order to keep violence separate from his life as Ben Turner. While never an A-lister, Bronze Tiger is one of DC Comics most complex black characters and could benefit from a bigger reputation.
If Bronze Tiger’s going to be on the team, then it makes sense that Vixen would be there too, seeing as how Gunn appreciates a good love story. Mari Jiwe McCabe possess the Tantu Totem which allows her to channel the abilities and strengths of any animal. It’s a kooky comic book concept that’s quite awesome when utilized correctly. Originally a superhero and a member of the Justice League, Vixen eventually lost control of her animal abilities and killed a crime lord, leading her to seek redemption within the Suicide Squad. There, she developed a relationship with Bronze Tiger, though his personal demons drove them apart. Vixen is an interesting character because she represents the thin line between heroism and villainy in the eyes of DC’s superheroes and villains. She was once a part of the most prominent superhero team in the world, yet one mistake that broke the code found her on the outs and taken in by villains. Vixen could be the emotional anchor of The Suicide Squad, and perhaps the only character with a real shot of getting out and moving on to something better.
We have a feeling that Gunn is going to want to tap into some pretty wild superpowers and stretch his visual sensibilities. There are few better Squad members to do that with than Nightshade, Eve Eden, a disgraced spy with the ability to manipulate darkness, transform into shadows, and teleport. But Eden is more than just a former spy. She has a wild backstory that falls right into Gunn’s lane. A princess from the Land of Nightshades, she was brought to Earth by her mother as an infant in order to escape the demon Incubus. One of the Suicide Squad’s missions found them entering the Land of Nightshades to defeat Nightshade’s brother Larry, who had been possessed by the demon. Elements of this story were used in 2016's Suicide Squad, but even if Incubus is off the table, the idea of the Suicide Squad traveling to a fantasy realm, if only briefly, sounds like an interesting departure from cityscapes and Earth-bound battles.
Half-man, half-shark. ‘Nuff said. Seriously though, while not an original member of the Suicide Squad, who wouldn’t want to see a giant shark man bite his way through enemies and charm audiences? Originally a Superboy villain, King Shark has gone on to become one of Aquaman’s villains, and has frequently teamed with Black Manta. In his recent Suicide Squad comic appearance, King Shark tried to eat a teammate. That could be something taken all the way in a movie by way of a lesser known character. Maybe there could be a brief line hinting at a prior encounter with Aquaman, tying The Suicide Squad to the larger world of the DCEU without bending over backwards to create a sense of continuity. Gunn’s affinity for monsters is too great to see him pass up on the chance to make this character just as beloved as Rocket and Groot.
There have been a number of versions of Killer Frost in the comics over the years, one of whom, Caitlin Snow, is a regular on CW’s The Flash. But for The Suicide Squad, we’re looking at the Louise Lincoln version of the character who briefly served on the Suicide Squad. The best argument for her inclusion is her cold and ice manipulation powers which are always a visually cool cinematic element. Known as being quite ruthless, Gunn could add more depth to her characterization so that she’s more than just a villain. One of Lincoln’s latter storylines involved her being diagnosed with cancer and that’s something that could play into the film. Perhaps she only staves off the cancer by going into cold mode, but in the process looses her humanity. A Suicide Squad member who’s already facing death seems like an obvious angle to explore.
Neither an original member of the Suicide Squad, nor a long-serving member, Major Disaster has some of the coolest powers in all of comics even though he’s rarely used. Originally a Green Lantern villain who came up against the Justice League, Paul Booker can see strands of chaos in the universe and manipulate them to increase the probability of accidents and disasters. Think of him as a living and costumed embodiment of the force of death seen in the Final Destination movies. Originally his powers came from weapons of his own creation, but were enhanced after he made a deal with the demon Neron. The Neron angle seems like a better fit for a movie. Major Disaster may have a silly name and costume, but he could be the most frightening member of the Suicide Squad, and perhaps its greatest villain, especially if he were to develop a grudge against a member or two.
Knowing Gunn, he’s sure to have plenty of surprises up his sleeves when it comes to The Suicide Squad. Hopefully, he’ll find a clever way to incorporate the events of Ayer’s film into this one and further build up the reputation of the Suicide Squad within the DC film universe.
by Sheraz Farooqi
by Graeme McMillan