While the critical reactions to the live-action DC Comics films of the last decade or so have been all over the map, the franchise has done a consistently phenomenal job when it comes to casting. Henry Cavill as Superman was a grand slam choice to kick off the DCEU. Gal Gadot is now the definitive Wonder Woman. And Margot Robbie's take on Harley Quinn is sublime. Even some of the choices that initially caused people to scratch their heads have become some of the most popular, like Jason Momoa as Aquaman or Ben Affleck as Batman. From starring turns to small supporting efforts, the DCEU has made a ton of great casting decisions, but none of them are quite as perfect as Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad.
Look, Boomerang isn't a very important character in the greater DC film franchise. He's not like Superman or Batman, where nailing the character is absolutely pivotal to the success of an on-screen universe. Anyone could have been cast as Boomerang and the DCEU would be in the same place as it is now. But thinking about the character's on-screen importance would take away from this brilliant casting job.
Even though the first Suicide Squad film was panned by critics upon its release, the cast is delightful, led by powerhouse players like Robbie, Will Smith, and Viola Davis. Somehow, with all of that talent on the screen at the same time, it's Courtney who manages to elicit the biggest laughs and run away with whatever scene he happens to be in. His character should not be memorable, but that gold-filled smirk is one of the first things that comes to anyone's mind when thinking about the original Suicide Squad.
It's all about understanding the assignment, both as an actor and a casting director. Let's start with the latter. Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu are listed as the minds behind the casting of Suicide Squad, working closely with director David Ayer to put the team together. Whoever made the call to bring Courtney in for Boomerang clearly saw something that no one else in Hollywood was able to: Jai Courtney is hilarious.
For years, Courtney only landed serious action roles. Sometimes he'd play a hero, others he'd play a sleazy villain. In all of them, however, he was boring. Just a stick in the mud, standing in for whatever generic character the script called for. Divergent, Jack Reacher, A Good Day to Die Hard, Terminator Genisys; it felt like Courtney was a stiff actor destined to star in forgettable movies. No one quite got what he brought to the table.
Fortunately for Courtney, it seems like his trajectory could be moving in the opposite direction. Boomerang was the perfect role for him at the absolute perfect time. The character of Captain Boomerang is a total asshole, a selfish turd that doesn't really care about anyone but himself. He's also deeply hilarious, which creates a villain that you love to see appear. He's always entertaining. Courtney had played that kind of grimy bad guy before as the character Eric in Divergent, but there was nothing funny about that role. Boomerang offered him the chance to really let loose and see what he could do. Much to the surprise of his detractors, he seized the opportunity and ran with it.
There may not be another character in the DCEU cast quite as perfectly, nor a character/actor combination that did more for one another. Boomerang became more popular because of Courtney's pitch-perfect portrayal, and Courtney showed the world that he was talented when given the right role.
It should come as no surprise that James Gunn wanted Courtney back for The Suicide Squad. He gets the balancing act of a character being simultaneously horrible and lovable. His dark humor aligns well with the entire Suicide Squad property, but specifically with a character like Boomerang.
We're probably not getting a Captain Boomerang appearance in The Flash or other DC movies. And there's a great chance he doesn't survive The Suicide Squad. But that's okay. Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerag is a J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson-level match made in heaven, and I'm just glad we got to see it at all.
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