NO SPOILERS! I PROMISE!
When you think of the first four Batman movies, you think of the villains first, Batman second, and with reason! Villains are unpredictable! Grandiose! Violent! And unforgettable, even when they’re played by Arnold Schwartzeneggar. Perhaps moreso.
So a movie about supervillains sent on suicide missions to commute their prison sentences? Count me in. From Ostrander’s run through BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM (2014), I love the Suicide Squad (officially called “Taskforce X” by their superiors) and all of the big ideas surrounding the team: redemption, purpose, ethics, government control, morality, and sacrifice.
Holy cow, the sacrifice. “Suicide Squad” isn’t just a colorful name. Characters die all the time on these missions. Sometimes just a couple, sometimes only one’s left standing, and Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) promises to be no different.
So let’s play a game and wildly speculate on who’s going to die!
First, let’s talk about the director.
David Ayer grew up in South Central LA and spent some time in the Navy, making him no stranger to hardship. His body of work reflects this, with films almost exclusively focusing on the military, ex-military, paramilitary, and the police of central LA. His themes revolve around brotherhood, machismo, violence, deadened emotions, moral ambiguity, and sacrifice.
Most of his male characters are chollo-masculine and speak with heavy colloquialisms. None are sinners or saints, but most have an inextricable attachment to and fixation with violence and their particular brand of honor.
His female characters tend to be victimized bystanders, often at the mercy of his protagonists. If they’re not directly manipulated or injured by the protagonist, they’re unable to fully understand their situation. If a female character isn’t victimized, she’s considered a part of the family and/or brotherhood, and in many cases, behaves indistinguishably from the men. She’s “just one of the guys.”
One last thing, possibly the biggest thing: Ayer LOVES to kill characters. Nobody is safe from the plot in his movies, and the protagonists often go down in flames prior to or directly following an impassioned speech.
SUICIDE SQUAD DETAILS
Other quick things:
1. Every member of Taskforce X, the Suicide Squad, has a bomb implanted in their neck. Stray from the mission, the bomb goes off.
2. A.R.G.U.S. (Advanced Research Group for Uniting Superhumans) is the corrupt government agency that runs Taskforce X/Suicide Squad. A dirty version of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s based out of Belle Reve prison in Louisiana, from where it selects its “candidates.” EVERY inmate is implanted with a bomb. Try to escape, the bomb goes off.
3. Amanda Waller runs Taskforce X and is the head of A.R.G.U.S. She’s got a zero tolerance policy for bullshit and hates criminals. Cross her, the bomb goes off.
And now, without further ado…
WHO’S GONNA DIE?
IN THE COMICS: Christopher Weiss AKA Slipknot is an assassin who specializes in ropes. A former member of the Suicide Squad, his arm-bomb was detonated when he fled a mission. Surprising no one, he’s never appeared in other media.
IN THE MOVIE: He’s played by Adam Beach and looks like a hardcore badass soldier. They gave him a rifle to make up for specializing in ropes being so stupid. Still, he carries more ropes than is healthy and is just asking to trip and fall down a staircase.
ARGUMENT: Slipknot’s an obscure character, even among Suicide Squad fans. He’s been on only a single mission and was dumb enough to test if he really had a bomb in him. Nobody’s talking about him and nobody’s quite sure why he’s in the movie.
PREDICTIONS: Slipknot’s going to die immediately after everyone on the team laughs at how stupid ropes are. Just wait and bleed, Slipknot. Wait. And. Bleed.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 100%
IN THE COMICS: Chato Santana AKA El Diablo, is a Latino gangster from South Central LA who volunteered his services to the Suicide Squad after inadvertently killing innocents with his pyrokinesis.
IN THE MOVIE: He’s played by Jay Hernandez and looks like his comic book counterpart with a snazzy jacket. Everything about this guy is attitude and he’ll undoubtedly be chollo. More than likely, he’ll be playing a walking flamethrower.
ARGUMENT: Yet another obscure character, albeit a deeper one with a more visual power. Arguably, this will be the character Ayer most sympathizes with, but El Diablo just isn’t built to last.
PREDICTIONS: El Diablo’s likely to survive for a long time on Ayer’s empathy alone, but that won’t save him in late in the second act. Expect him to die in a literal blaze of glory.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 100%
IN THE COMICS: Tatsu Yamashiro AKA Katana wields “Soultaker,” a katana housing her husband’s soul, which guides her on the path of justice. She has aided the Suicide Squad and has been a member of the Outsiders, Birds of Prey, and a version of the Justice League.
IN THE MOVIE: Played by Karen Fukuhara, she’s one of the few team members who actually looks like their comic book counterpart, and her costume looks extremely Japanese. Girl stands out like a sore thumb.
ARGUMENT: Karen Fukuhara iss an unknown actress playing a lesser-known character who almost exclusively operates on lesser teams and/or seldomly partners with Batman. Still, she’s wearing a comic-accurate costume and could theoretically help launch other DC properties, specifically the Outsiders and Birds of Prey.
PREDICTIONS: Remember that scene from PREDATORS (2010) where a yakuza member kamikazis against a Predator? Didn’t think so. Here it is. With Deathstroke rumored among the characters, I firmly expect Karana to die in a one-on-one showdown with him to raise the stakes and sell how badass Deathstroke is.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 75%
IN THE COMICS: Wilson Slade AKA Deathstroke is DC’s #1 assassin, and has tangled with-and beaten- nearly everyone. With Captain America-level powers and fighting abilities, master swordsmanship, and enough firepower to start and end World War 3, he’s just about unstoppable.
IN THE MOVIE: Rumors peg Scott Eastwood as Deathstroke, and if so, he’ll be the antagonist with body count. As a rising star, no doubt Eastwood’s going to get some considerable play.
ARGUMENT: Deathstroke’s a fan-favorite character and a major antagonist for the likes of Batman, Green Arrow, the Teen Titans, Deadshot, and the Suicide Squad, and has a personal rivalry with several of them. With WB setting up the DC Cinematic Universe, it’d be a waste to kill him early. That said, with Ayer directing a grounded, paramilitary movie, it’s unlikely that Deathstroke would be merely paralyzed in defeat. It strains credibility and Ayer’s writing habits.
PREDICTION: If Deathstroke dies, he’ll be killed in a duel to the death with Deadshot, who will likely be mortally wounded.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 60%
IN THE COMICS: Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot is a masterclass sniper and assassin. Serving a life sentence, he volunteers for for Taskforce X in the hopes of providing for his estranged daughter and ex-wife. He uses wrist-mounted machine guns, but has recently taken up a sniper rifle. He’s a regular adversary to Batman & Green Arrow, is a member of the Secret Six, and is the longest-standing member of the Suicide Squad.
IN THE MOVIE: Will Smith’s Deadshot’s mask and color scheme look like tactical adaptations of his comic book costume, and the tweaked Bible quote on his neck and three rifles “The Way – The Light” hints at deeper character, though who knows if the spirituality is sincere, mockery, or sheer machismo. A set picture featuring Lawton carrying tons of prissy shopping bags for his apparent daughter suggest a very faithful and deep adaptation.
ARGUMENT: Deadshot is a fan favorite perennial member of the team. At this point, it’s just not Suicide Squad without him. Will Smith, a bankable star, is playing him, but this is a David Ayer movie. Deadshot’s an expendable soldier in a movie ALL ABOUT expendable soldiers. All he cares about redemption and his daughter, and there’s all the reason in the world to believe he’ll die trying to provide for her. Deadshot doesn’t need to be alive for there to be a Taskforce X/Suicide Squad.
PREDICTIONS: If Deadshot doesn’t die in a mutual slaying with Deathstroke, he’ll certainly be mortally wounded by the encounter. Failing that, Deadshot will be mortally wounded and push through his agony to deliver a speech about how there are no heroes and die delivering the coup d’tat to the primary antagonist.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 90%
IN THE COMICS: Waylon Jones AKA Killer Croc is a crocodile-man hybrid who started in freak shows and wound up as a cannibal in Gotham’s sewers. He was popular character on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.
IN THE MOVIE: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje seems to be playing a more human/hitman version of the character, the upturned hood suggesting a level of rejection from and loathing of the world around him. At the very least, he’s the team bruiser and quite possibly the aquatic specialist.
ARGUMENT: Croc’s a popular minor supporting character in the comics and shows, often serving as a brutal obstacle for Batman or, in rare cases, appearing as a tragic, misunderstood figure who lost his chance at redemption. In the movie world, he’s disposable. There are plenty far-more interesting Batman villains and there’s not a lot of purpose in keeping him alive, save as muscle for any one of them.
PREDICTION: Either Croc dies tragically early, unable to find redemption or respect, or he’s mutually killed in a brutal underwater deathmatch with the OTHER animal/man hybrid, King Shark.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 70%
IN THE COMICS: Nanaue AKA King Shark is a shark/human hybrid with a taste for human flesh, and he’s been a constant menace to Superboy, Aquaman, his Suicide Squad teammates, and anyone else stupid enough to get between him and a meal. This none-too-bright walking slaughterhouse has been depicted as a Great White, a Hammerhead, and A GUY WITH A BEARTRAP MOUTH.
IN THE MOVIE: While there haven’t been any official pics yet, I’m REALLY hoping Raymond Olubawale plays the Guy-with-a-Beartrap-Mouth version, which seems the most likely. Personality wise, I don’t expect there to be much difference. There will be blood. Buckets of it.
ARGUMENT: Despite my love of the character, he’s a stock bruiser and among DC’s lesser villains. He exists to be a bloodthirsty menace and to be overcome. Probably for the best. If he were popular, he’d be hearing an endless barrage of Street Shark jokes.
PREDICTION: No question, he goes out in a gore-drenched fight with Killer Croc, where both “men” tear each other limb from limb. I suspect this might take place in a sewer or in an A.R.G.U.S. holding tank.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 100%
IN THE COMICS: June Moon AKA The Enchantress is a regular foe of Firestorm, the Green Lantern, Superman, and the Justice League. She’s also been a member of the Suicide Squad. Docile and powerless as June Moon, when her split personality, the Enchantress, manifests, she’s an omnicidal magical onslaught.
IN THE MOVIE: Cara Delavingne’s Enchantress looks like Hermione on PCP, utterly corrupted by dark magic. She’ll probably try to kill everyone around her.
ARGUMENT: Enchantress isn’t all that popular, but if some of the plot rumors flying around are true, she’s absolutely vital to the plot. Y’see, Superman is weak to Kryptonite AND magic, and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor WILL be in this movie. Similarly, Enchantress is suspiciously overpowered for the team, if she’s even on it…
PREDICTION: I see Enchantress doing the magic equivalent of “Hulking out” and wreaking havoc for everything in a ten-block radius, possibly killing members of the team. Her death will probably be sudden and unexpected. Likely Deadshot, who sniped her in the back of the head from half a mile away.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 80%
IN THE COMICS: George “Digger” Harkness AKA Captain Boomerang is a regular Flash adversary and primary member of the Suicide Squad, where he’s trusted about as far as they can throw him. A deadly master of trick boomerangs, Captain Boomerang is a scummy, conceited, misogynist, hostile piece of shit. And he’s kind of endearing that way.
IN THE MOVIE: Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang certainly looks like a scummy, conceited, misogynist, hostile piece of shit. Hopefully that comes off as endearing.
ARGUMENT: Captain Boomerang is a fan favorite from John Ostrander’s run of the Suicide Squad and has a longstanding rivalry with Deadshot. He’s got little value to the bigger DC movies on the way, but if SUICIDE SQUAD takes off, he’s the kind of guy you’ll want around for a sequel.
PREDICTION: Truth be told, I have trouble seeing Captain Boomerang put down in combat. Sure he’s not that great a fighter, but bullheaded as he is, he’s more likely to test Amanda Waller and/or his field commander. Either his implanted bomb gets blown, or he carves it out with a boomerang and skips town. As I said, he’s just kind of a piece of shit.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 30%
IN THE COMICS: Described as “Batman’s Moriarty,” Dr. Hugo Strange was once Bruce Wayne’s psychologist and nearly drove his client to insanity. Donning the Batsuit, Strange terrorized Gotham until Bruce finally snapped out of it.
IN THE MOVIE: There are few details and no official picture of Ike Barinholtz’s Strange, but he’ll likely be Belle Reve prison’s chief criminal psychologist with nefarious ulterior motives…
ARGUMENT: Strange is an obscure but formidable Batman villain enjoying a surge of popularity after ARKHAM CITY. While he’s unlikely to be the star villain of a Batman movie, he’s the right kind of guy to keep around for a Suicide Squad sequel and general DC Cinematic Universe continuity.
PREDICTION: There’s a damn good chance the Suicide Squad decides not to play ball with A.R.G.U.S. and launches an attack on Belle Reve. Should that happen, Dr. Strange will probably meet his fate at the hands of Joker and Harley, who’d be his prized patients.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 30%
IN THE COMICS: Head of A.R.G.U.S., Amanda Waller lost her family to tragedy and is a decorated military vet where her iron will and inflexibility earned her the nickname ‘The Wall.’ Recruiting villains from every major city, she’s rubbed just about every DC hero the wrong way in the name of national defense.
IN THE MOVIE: All signs point to Viola Davis behaving like her comic book counterpart: cold, calculating, and uncompromising.
ARGUMENT: She IS A.R.G.U.S., more than any character, and if you want a sequel, you want her around. She’s the single most power P.O.C. in this movie and the one with the most transferability to other movies if Suicide Squad gets big. Besides, remember GREEN LANTERN (2011)? Back then, she was poised to be its Nick Fury.
PREDICTION: IF Waller dies, and it’s a big if, she’ll die in a towering explosion that takes out a wing of the prison, if not the entire thing. She could very well be the principle antagonist, afterall. More likely, she’ll be the only one standing in the rubble, staring out at a sea of bodies that she helped create.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 20%
IN THE COMICS: Rick Flagg, the field leader of the Suicide Squad is an army brat who volunteered for service after his WWII vet father, the first Rick Flagg, founded the team to fight dinosaurs. He’s humorless, mopey, insecure, and thinks he’s owed leadership. Time and again, he’s proven wrong.
IN THE MOVIE: Joel Kinnaman sure looks like a soldier, all right.
ARGUMENT: There’s not a whole lot to say about Flagg other than he continually needs to get knocked down a peg. If anything, the character might learn what it means to lose an entire squad or to think of soldiers as pawns, not people. BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM didn’t bother including Flagg, instead using Deadshot as field commander. Then again, Flagg’s one of the few “good” characters in this whole affair and the audience may need someone to latch onto.
PREDICTION: If Flagg goes down, he’s going down with a long, sentimental speech about humanity and what it means to him. He’ll have finally learned the meaning of sacrifice and blow himself up to give the surviving team members a fighting chance.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 40%
JONNY FROST (UPDATE)
IN THE COMICS: Jonny Frost appeared only in Brian Azzarello’s “JOKER” where he was an ambitious lowlife thug and Joker’s chauffeur. As you might expect, things didn’t go so great for him.
IN THE MOVIE: Jim Parrack brings Frost to life and there’s a brief glimpse of him in the trailer shooting up a store with the Joker, suggesting a fairly faithful adaptation. Likely, Frost will play Joker’s right hand thug, but will likely have absolutely no place on the Suicide Squad.
ARGUMENT: Frost’s story is a tragic one, as befitting all near the Joker. In his only comic appearance, Frost suffers immeasurably at the Joker’s hands before falling to -in all likelihood- his death. Parrack is a strong actor, no question, but not necessary for this series to continue.
PREDICTION: If Joker’s good at anything, it’s killing his subordinates on a whim. Likely as not, Joker will betray Frost to raise the stakes and highlight how unpredictable and terrifying he is.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 100%
THE TATTOOED MAN (UPDATE)
IN THE COMICS: Abel Tarrant, the Tattooed Man, is a former Green Lantern villain with the power to create physical objects from his tattoos -weaponry and monsters included. A member of the Injustice Gang and the Society of Super Villains before being recruited to the Suicide Squad, the Tattooed Man was killed by his Suicide Squad mates after he betrayed them on a critical mission.
IN THE MOVIE: Little is known about the Tattooed Man as played by Common, but given all that happens in trailer one, it’s safe to assume that he’s as deadly as his comic book counterpart. Living tattoos will have that effect.
ARGUMENT: The comics spell out the Tattooed Man’s a traitor and a deadman. While David Ayer has worked with Common before, he has zero problem killing him. Onscreen. Of course.
PREDICTION: The first trailer shows him decimating a subway train. As such a potent threat, I doubt anyone on the team would have second thoughts about dropping him where he stands.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 100%
IN THE COMICS: Harleen Quinzel AKA Harley Quinn was Joker’s psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum until he drove her insane -with love. She’s a kooky Jersey Girl who’s known for hitting things with an oversized mallet or using a lethal pop gun. Starting life as a one-off in BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, she’s taken pop culture by storm, and has become as popular as Wonder Woman -if not moreso.
IN THE MOVIE: Margot Robbie’s punk rock Harley Quinn certainly looks like she’s going to make an impression, if not for her outfit, then with her baseball bat and bubbly personality. Rumor has it that the film begins with her on the outs with Joker. We’ll see how long that lasts.
ARGUMENT: As indicated, Harley’s a pop culture icon to be reckoned with and her legendary relationship with the Joker suggests all kind of film longevity. If ANY female character is going to survive this movie, it’s going to be her.
PREDICTION: No matter what, Harley’s going to side with the Joker. If he’s on the Suicide Squad, they’ll conspire together and make their move at the worst possible moment. If he’s not on the team, Harley will betray them in a big way. I foresee her clawing out her implanted bomb and baseball batting it into a handful of A.R.G.U.S. soldiers.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 0%
IN THE COMICS: The unknown man known as the Joker is THE most iconic villain in comics, Batman archenemies and a regular threat for the Justice League. He’s been adapted the most times to film, has appeared in nearly every Batman TV show, and generally steals the story in Batman video games.
IN THE MOVIE: Look at this guy. You can’t look at Jared Leto’s Joker and NOT have an opinion. The reveal of this guy messed up twitter for days, leading some to believe that it isn’t the real Joker. Clearly he’s the real deal and clearly WB/DC has a lot planned for him, especially after Tom Hardy’s comments.
ARGUMENT: It’s the freakin’ Joker! He’s a household name and there’s absolutely no chance of him DC squandering him to a single movie, especially one that isn’t called “Batman.”
PREDICTION: Joker WILL cause mayhem. No matter the methods, the results will be extreme and shocking. If he’s a Suicide Squad member, which I doubt, he’ll likely find a way to implant his bomb onto someone else. If he’s not on the team, he’ll get away with Harley and a trail of bodies in his wake.
LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH: 0%
‘TIL THE LAST MAN STANDING
There’s something poetic about how the Suicide Squad operates. Characters living and dying based on popularity, utility, and the roll of the dice… It’s a cruel, cynical, pragmatic system that’s in many ways a mirror for many facets of society. Regardless of the results and who, if anyone, is left standing when the smoke clears, Ayer’s Suicide Squad is going to be a conversation-starter for years and years to come.