When DC/Warner Brothers made their big announcement last month outlining all of their cinematic universe plans thru 2020, one of the more surprising films to be mentioned was Suicide Squad. With all of the other movies all but certain to connect to Justice League, Suicide Squad, which follows a group of villains who participate in covert missions for the government in exchange for their freedom, stands apart from the other superhero fare currently in the works from DC/Warner. There are already some early casting rumors for the Joker, Deathstroke and Harley Quinn, but outside of that, there’s potential for this production to evolve in a number of different and unpredictable ways between now and its 2016 release.
This list outlines five themes or concepts a Suicide Squad film could include that would satisfy hardcore fans of the comic book series, while also making for an entertaining and compelling film. For now, all we know is that director David Ayers wants the film to be “Dirty Dozen with supervillains.” The rest is open to speculation.
5. Take Note of the John Ostrander Run
While a number of creators have worked on Suicide Squad over the years, the pinnacle of the series and the team is considered the John Ostrander run in the mid-1980s/early 1990s. It was Ostander who decided to take a ragtag group of lesser-known supervillains and transform them into a Dirty Dozen-style comic book series that was quite critically and commercially successful. And while the series has been revived a few times over since Ostrander’s run ended, when most people over a certain age hear the words “Suicide Squad,” they immediately think of the 80s team.
Early casting rumors have linked characters such as Joker and Harley Quinn to Suicide Squad. Both certainly have more mainstream name recognition and commercial appeal than the likes of Deadshot and Captain Boomerang, and both played a key role in the fourth volume of the series which was launched as part of the New 52. But part of the fun of Ostrander’s run was how he assembled these otherwise ignored villains and transformed them into compelling characters. DC/Warner naturally have to make money off this movie, but hopefully there’s a way for the film to make bank, while finding inspiration from one of the better comic book runs from the past 30 years, and that includes putting the focus on some more unheralded characters.
4. A High Stakes Game
One of the ongoing gimmicks of the Suicide Squad dating back to the team’s revitalization in the 1980s is that there is always a considerable chance that one of the team members won’t survive a mission (this is the “Suicide” Squad after all). While such an approach makes characters seemingly expendable, this gimmick has been used to great success throughout the group’s history by adding a high level of tension and drama to a story. Such a tactic signals to readers that anyone is ripe to be killed, meaning if a character is placed in a very dangerous/risky predicament, the audience shouldn’t just assume that they’re going to get out of it. It also doesn't hurt that most Suicide Squad members are D-list, underutilized villains, making it a little easier for a creator to kill somebody off.
Additionally, some of the greatest television shows of all time, such as The Wire, The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, have succeeded, in large part, because creators do not become overly attached to their characters. The deaths of certain characters might come across as shocking or unfair, but it unquestionably gets audiences buzzing. If the Suicide Squad is part of DC/Warner’s long-term plans, it really needs to play this game and not be afraid to sacrifice a character or two in its first film.
3. Be Bold in Casting Amanda Waller
Since being created by Ostrander, Len Wein and John Byrne in the Legends miniseries, Amanda Waller, the director of Task Force X, has made a huge impression on the comic book industry despite not having any superpowers of her own. With her cutthroat, opportunistic ways and ambiguous morality, the character has long walked the line between good and evil, and has been designated as both an anti-hero and villain. Such characterization has transformed Waller into one of the more iconic women in comics, making her casting of the utmost importance for DC/Warner. Like the character herself, whoever is cast as Waller needs to command respect and been viewed authoritatively by movie-goers. An actress with enormous screen presence and experience would probably be the best way to go. The studio should not get overly hung up on Waller’s race or body type when making its choice and should instead pick someone who has the ability to chew scenery when she’s up on the screen. Otherwise it could be a missed opportunity for DC/Warner to create a fan favorite character in its ever-expanding movie-verse.
2. It’s All Connected
In addition to borrowing villains from a number of different superhero comics littered throughout the broader DC Universe, Suicide Squad became well known for how it utilized guest appearances from some of the publisher’s most iconic characters. Batman, Superman and Superboy all either appeared in the Suicide Squad series proper or have crossover stories involving the group. And they did so in a way that not only helped boost sales of comics, but also made sense from a storyline perspective. Batman especially was used to great effect during the Ostrander run as someone who found himself reluctantly aligned with Waller’s Task Force X.
With DC/Warner looking to emulate Marvel’s template of connecting all of its heroes, it stands to reason that the Suicide Squad will factor into the DC Cinematic Universe beyond just one film. But to enjoy the success that Marvel has had with the “it’s all connected” tagline, the characters need to link I a way that’s organic and makes sense for the larger story that’s being told. When looking at the full slate of films DC/Warner is producing over the next six years, Suicide Squad looks to be the odd one out with all of the others sensibly feeding into the two Justice League films. Since it wouldn’t make much sense to see Deadshot or Harley Quinn join the league, DC/Warner will have its work cut out in finding a creative way to seamlessly link these worlds.
1. Direct from the Headlines
Previous comic book movies like The Dark Knight Rises and Captain America: The Winter Soldier absolutely featured plots that were political in their themes and messages, but Suicide Squad is unique in that DC/Warner could very easily create a film that borrows heavily from what’s going on in the news, giving the production a very current and topical feel.
For one, the squad is often pitted against international terrorist threats including (fictinal) organized groups like Jihad and Basilisk, which, intentional or not, are quite similar to some of the groups that are frequently featured in media headlines every day. Additionally, because the Suicide Squad is a (covertly) government-sanctioned organization, the group is often called to provide favors for politicians running for office. As such, over the years, real-world officials like Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev have made cameos in the comics. While it’s doubtful the film version will feature real politicians (we certainly shouldn’t expect outgoing President Barack Obama to show up on the big screen in 2016), there’s no reason why this movie can’t have fun with its references to the real world. Doing that will only make a movie that the audience can more easily connect to, while also still functioning as a bit of escapism for people fed up with the non-stop political dialogue.