This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on August 4, 2016.
For many Americans the concept of the Suicide Squad may appear to have come from left field. However, DC Comics fans will know that this is one idea that has been decades in the making. Back in 1987 writers John Ostrander and Kim Yale along with artists like Luke McDonnell and Geof Isherwood created the very first Suicide Squad series. They told the tales of a team of criminals and heroes in need of a cause who tackled impossible missions. It has since become a cult classic among comics fans for many reasons. We at ComicBook.Com hope director David Ayer’s adaptation of Suicide Squad will capture some of the best elements of this classic series on the big screen.
We’ve already had one of our big hopes satisfied with the diverse casting of the movie. The original Suicide Squad series was far ahead of its time in how it presented race, gender, and religion. Its cast was a true boiling pot of Americans (even if they were mostly criminals) that reflected people of all stripes. The diversity on display among the characters in the movie, including the brilliant casting of Will Smith as Deadshot, shows that it’s just as dedicated to representing humanity as the comic series.
Now let’s take a look at what is still to be revealed and what else we hope Suicide Squad will capture from this classic comic when it debuts on August 5, 2016.
About once per year there would be an issue of Suicide Squad labeled “Personal Files”. These installments would focus on what the team was doing at their home in Belle Reve Prison. That included catching up with family and meeting with the facility’s priest. This may not sound terribly exciting, but a large portion of Suicide Squad’s draw lay in its unique cast of characters.
We hope to see the film treat its bizarre bunch with just as much respect and interest. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be some comedy (Suicide Squad featured an ongoing pie gag, afterall). However, the characters should have clear motives and histories behind why they’re being funny, serious, or any other sort of emotion. Even the most minor of characters, including those killed in a single issue, felt like a complete human being in the Suicide Squad and it made for some amazing stories.
Violence and Death
In a lot of superhero comics violence can feel like slapstick because you know that both good guys and bad guys will survive, and even if they don’t they will inevitably return. The original Suicide Squad series turned that paradigm on its head. By selecting a cast of B- and C-list characters, everyone had the potential to die and nobody was likely to return from the grave. Outside of Harely Quinn, that appears to be the case in the Suicide Squad movie too.
It’s not just about death though. Violence had consequences in Suicide Squad and the comic never shied away from making readers feel it. It took actions like firing a gun or throwing a punch seriously, acknowledging these concepts are more than simple entertainment. We hope Ayer continues his excellent track record of treating violence seriously and creates an atmosphere of tension and danger around all of the action in the movie.
Lots of Genres
You may look at DC Comics and think this should be a superhero movie. You may look at the trailer and think this should be an action movie. We hope Suicide Squad defies expectations and doesn’t allow itself to be defined by any single genre. One great thing the classic series did was to embrace the DC Universe and explore the many possibilities presented by a shared universe.
In Suicide Squad you can find plenty of superhero and action fare. There’s also ample doses of horror, fantasy, science fiction, political intrigue, and plenty more. Many of the series greatest adventures take the team places far from where readers may have expected. In one mission they were pulled into a magical dark dimension defined by illogic. In another they were taken to Apokolips (which we already know exists in the DC Cinematic Universe) for a truly heart-wrenching tale. Wherever the Suicide Squad movie goes, we hope it takes a page from the comics and explores a variety of genre tropes.
Real World Touchstones
When the original Suicide Squad series was coming out, America had reached the final days of the Cold War. It’s easy to read the tension of those days and all of the preceding decades in its pages. The team traveled to both the USSR and South America in order to carry out American orders against Communist rivals. They also performed CIA-style wet work within their own borders (and against orders).
Suicide Squad is a comic steeped in exploring the politics and tensions of the day, and it’s a tradition we hope to see the movie continue. While the problems and issues of 2016 may be different than those in 1988, there are just as many sources for action and conflict to be found in the world today. Ayer’s movie could very well provide audiences with both entertainment and some thoughts on what’s happening outside the theater.
The success or failure of the Suicide Squad movie rests on the shoulders of one character. It’s not Harely Quinn. It’s not Deadshot. It’s especially not Captain Boomerang (or Boomerbutt as fans of the classic series will know him).
It’s all about Amanda Waller.
Amanda Waller was created by John Ostrander and John Byrne to be the center of the series and she is the one thread that ties every issue together. She represents everything that is best about the Suicide Squad as a concept. Just consider everything we’ve hoped for so far. She is a diverse and complex character. She takes violence seriously. She works in just about any genre. And she feels like a real person and a very real politician.
“The Wall” is the sort of woman who can corral an impossibly powerful pack of super villains into doing some good, and she’s the one who will have to tower over them all in theaters while standing a foot below everyone. In the Suicide Squad comics, she is one of the few people to ever make Batman stand down. We hope to see Viola Davis capture this incredible character in all her glory. If she does that, then the Suicide Squad movie will undoubtedly be a great adaptation of this incredible comic.