Suicide Squad, the second Warner Bros./DC Comics film targeting a 2016 release, represents the companies’ attempt to do something Marvel so far hasn't: focus on a group of villains rather than heroes. As a concept created in 1959 by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru, Suicide Squad is a revolving team of super-villains who carry out missions for the US government in exchange for commuted sentences. Formally titled Task Force X, they’re an unpredictable bunch, but then that was itself predictable, given their largely villainous nature. For those whose first introduction to the characters was the casting of Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and the rest in the upcoming film adaptation, here is a handy guide to the group that will hit screens on August 5 next year…
Rick Flag Jr./Rick Flagg Jr.
Played in the movie by: Joel Kinnaman
Bio: As with so many comic book characters, there are different incarnations of Flag. The name Rick Flag has been used by three generations, all of them military men, and all linked in some way to a version of Task Force X. The main Flag is described as a former fighter pilot whose brush with death and tragedy – in his case, his entire unit being wiped out – pushed him towards an early attempt at the squad that fared little better. He agreed to lead the squad overseen by Waller and chafed at having to work alongside villains, balking at any idea that he and Deadshot (see below) might be similar. Expect similar conflict in the film, while the presence of Corina Calderon playing a character called Grace points to the potential inclusion of the love of Rick’s life, Karin Grace.
Played in the movie by: Will Smith
Bio: Floyd Lawton has a reputation as the world’s greatest marksman and works as a hired assassin. Thanks to an overpowering death wish, he was willing to kill anyone for the right price, but on the flipside was committed to protecting his estranged ex-wife and daughter. He pre-dates the squad’s birth as he was originally created by Bob Kane, David Vern Reed and Lew Sayre Schwartz in 1950 as a prime villain for Batman. He’s known for his trademark eyepiece and mask, which Smith will be wearing during the film.
Played in the movie by: Jared Leto
Bio: He's the one character in the film who doesn’t need and introduction as he’s been a pop cultural icon since Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger and Bob Kane brought him to cackling life as Batman’s primary antagonist in 1940. He’s possibly the most famous comic book villain out there, appearing on TV and whenever Bats has hit the big screen. In the past, the likes of Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger have played him, and Leto has a lot to live up to embodying the Clown Prince of Crime, the Jester of Genocide, the Harlequin of Hate, and the Ace of Knaves. He’s usually seen first as a criminal (in the comics, one named Red Hood) who falls into a vat of chemicals that bleaches his skin, colours his hair and renders him insane. It’s unlikely that will be explored here, as, like Ledger before him, Leto’s Joker appears to be fully formed when we meet him. The Joker isn't a member of the squad itself but rather an inmate at Arkham Asylum that early drafts of the script had Harley Quinn trying to break out.
Played in the movie by: Margot Robbie
Bio: Harley is an unusual creation in the DC Universe in that she first appeared in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 and proved so popular that she was added to the comic books. Created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, she’s a frequent accomplice and often lover for The Joker (not the healthiest relationship, as you might imagine), sharing his penchant for madness, violence and unpredictability. She is also usually portrayed as a talented psychiatrist with the alter ego Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzelc (subtle!) In the relaunched timeline of the comic books, she goes on a murderous frenzy of vengeance after a falling out with ol’ smiley face and is forcibly inducted into the squad. Robbie’s performance will be the second time she’s been seen in live-action form, after short-lived DC TV series Birds Of Prey.
Played in the movie by: Jai Courtney
Bio: George “Digger” Harkness is an Australian thug who gets his name from the high-tech boomerangs he utilises to commit crimes. Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino in 1960, he’s usually found causing trouble for The Flash, at one point nearly killing the hero by strapping him to a giant boomerang and shooting it into space. He likes boomerangs, is what we’re saying. A less-than-effective villain, he’s also known for his abrasive personality and frequent racist outbursts, though we wonder how much of that latter aspect will make it into the movie.
Played in the movie by: Cara Delevingne
Bio: Enchantress has had a couple of different variations through the years. First created by Bob Haney and Howard Purcell for National Comics (which became DC) in 1966, she appeared in Strange Adventures. Also known as freelance artist June Moore, she’s initially a heroic character empowered by a magical being called Dzamor (bless you) to battle evil creatures. But when she later returns to comics, she’s become misguided, and an enemy for Supergirl, among others. She’s recruited into Task Force X in an attempt to curb her villainous side but her very first mission unleashes it full force. She learns that the Enchantress side is a separate evil entity controlling her and takes measures to eliminate it. Her powers include healing, teleportation and the ability to affect any non-living object with her magic. She can also walk through walls, which seems a little redundant, given the whole teleportation thing.
Played in the movie by: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Bio: An enemy of Batman dating back to 1983 and first crafted by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan, Killer Croc, is, as you could infer from his name, a super-strong villain with a crocodile-like appearance. It’s later revealed that it’s because he was born with a form of atavism that gave him reptilian traits. His was not an easy youth, hated by his drunken aunt and spurring him to a life of crime. He boasts superhuman strength, speed, agility, reflexes, stamina, durability and senses. Plus, he can swim like no one else, and he's also an expert marksman. He spends a lot of his time in Arkham Asylum, but will end up at Belle Reve for the film.
Played in the movie by: Jay Hernandez
Bio: There have been three characters of differing alignment using the pseudonym El Diablo in the DC Universe and it would appear Hernandez is playing Chato Santana. Originated by Jai Nitz and Phil Hester, he ended up in Belle Reve prison after burning down a building containing gang members who owed him a debt. Upon discovering that there were innocent women and children inside, he gave himself up to police. On death row, he was forcibly recruited into the Suicide Squad and implanted with a micro-bomb to ensure his obedience. Among his powers is the ability to control fire, which will be handy on squad camping trips.
Played in the movie by: Adam Beach
Bio: Nothing to do with the band, his alter ego is Christopher Weiss and he was created by Gerry Conway and Rafael Kayanan in 1984. Beginning his career as the humble employee of a chemical company, he develops a formula for durable, powerful ropes and is indoctrinated by a criminal organization known as the 2000 committee dedicated to taking over the world by, you guessed it, the year 2000 (bit late there, guys). Sent to help kill a hero named Firestorm, he fails and ends up in police custody while also attracting the attention of the Suicide Squad. Recruited, he’s sent on missions with the team until a fateful day when, encouraged by Captain Boomerang, he decides to test whether the bombs they’re all forced to carry to stop them going too far out of range are fake or not. Answer? Not. Result? One exploderised right arm. We have no idea if Ayer will put that concept into the film, but we would not put it past him.
Played in the movie by: Karen Fukuhara
Bio: AKA Tatsu Yamashiro. First appearing in the DCU in 1983 as a creation of Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo, she was content to live with her husband and family until her brother-in-law, who had competed for her affections, killed him in a duel with a mysterious, mystical sword known as the “Soultaker.” Fleeing after her family is also killed, she trained with a master called Tadashi and then travelled to the US in order to fight for justice using the Katana name. She’s often been found as a member of a team called The Outsiders, assembled by Batman during a disagreement with the Justice League. But she has also crossed paths with the Suicide Squad, and it appears she’s part of the team in the movie.
Played in the movie by: Viola Davis
Bio: First crashing into the DC Universe in 1986 as the product of John Ostrander, Len Wein and John Byrne, Amanda Blake Waller is renowned as one of the most ruthless characters in espionage and politics. Despite possessing no superpowers, she’s highly trained in logistics, strategic management, military tactics, game theory, espionage and martial arts. Escaping a Chicago housing project following the murder of most of her family, she went on to study political science and became a congressional aide. Her access to the upper echelons of government led to her learning of the early versions of the Suicide Squad and pitched a new variant, earning the chance to oversee its operations. She proved to be a controversial leader, often disagreeing with and outright defying her superiors in Washington to pursue her own agenda. She’s also widely disliked by the squad. The feeling, apparently, is mutual.
There are several other actors whose characters have yet to be fully confirmed. Ike Barinholtz is reportedly playing Batman nemesis Hugo Strange, an evil genius and psychologist who has massive intelligence and combat skills, who crated Monster Men to do his bidding. Jim Parrack will be Johnny Frost, one of The Joker’s henchmen. Raymond Olubawale is listed on the IMDB as King Shark, known in the comics as a humanoid shark (the clue’s in the name, people), while Common and Alex Meraz’s characters have yet to be named, though the former could be Bronze Tiger. And we can expect cameos from Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, both of which are established in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice.