Suicide Squad, the last great hope in a tepid summer blockbuster season—and the third attempt by Warner Bros. to cultivate mass excitement for their nascent DC shared universe film slate—opens today to…mixed reviews. While some DC diehards fervently reject the mere suggestion that David Ayers’ PG-13 action romp may not live up to the promise of its well-received, darkly humorous trailers, critics seem to largely agree that the film, like last year’s abysmal Fantastic Four, fails to meld its myriad components into a coherent, enjoyable whole. Don’t shed any tears for Warner Bros. quite yet, though—box office projections still predict a huge opening, which will likely help the film coast to a respectable, if not bombastic, worldwide haul when all is said and done.
And much like Margot Robbie’s indefatigable take on the murderous moll Harley Quinn, the burgeoning Suicide Squad franchise will hopefully take its critical licks and come back for more with (improved) future installments. With a core premise based on a theoretically expendable cast, that also means more characters, if only to give Will Smith’s Deadshot fresh bodies to step over. From the storied John Ostrander/ Kim Yale/ Luke McDonnell run to the Harley-led New 52 iteration, the Suicide Squad has welcomed all manner of crazies, killers and cannon fodder into its ranks over the years. The whackos in the gallery above, however…probably won’t be coming to a theater near you any time soon.
But what do we know? Slipknot, an obscure Firestorm villain known for his strong rope-tying prowess (the envy of Boy Scouts everywhere, truly) and lack of belief in explosive collars, got a dedicated character poster. It’s a wild world.
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Bawdy surprise hit Deadpool, no doubt weighing heavily on WB's collective mind during the Suicide Squad reshoots and editing process, successfully skirts the line of poor taste nine times out of ten. If Suicide Squad 2 wants to do the same, they'll pass over this problematic Flash villain. Due to a "malformed brain gland," Big Sir—real name, no joke, Dufus—was a mentally handicapped strongman who frequently allowed himself to be controlled by a telepathic teammate. Like a scene out of a murderously reversed Frankenstein or Of Mice and Men, Big Sir met his end when he innocently hugged a child…who turned out to be an explosive bio weapon. It was a different time.
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Director David Ayers recently went on record that frequent Squad member King Shark was his first choice for the hungry mutant spot that went to Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Killer Croc, but that he wasn't comfortable with a character that would need to be almost entirely CGI. For that reason alone, don't expect to see recurring Squad member Chemo, a toxin titan with little sentience of its own. Typically controlled by Amanda Waller or another remote guide, Chemo is a walking Chernobyl, and has melted a teammate or two in the past. The effects budget needed to make any passable resemblance to this behemoth would be astronomical, and the film's poorly rendered CGI antagonists are already one of critics' most frequents targets. But beyond that, it's called Chemo. Just a little insensitive, don't you think?
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In a film with an aboriginal-weapons expert, a woman bonded to a mystical sword and a guy who…ties really great knots…an enchanted crowbar is at once too much and totally acceptable. Less acceptable: Crowbar's Sexy Construction Worker Halloween costume, which seems unwise for a guy who spends the bulk of his time being shot at. Although, given the way the camera relentlessly ogles Harley Quinn from every possible angle, perhaps the next SS outing could use some vaguely bondage-y beefcake to even the playing field.
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The Hunky Punk
To be fair to this British criminal and former history teacher, "hunky punk" is an established term for certain types of church gargoyles. To be fair to reality, WB could not offer award-winning actress and Jared Leto tolerator Viola Davis enough money to call someone "The Hunky Punk" with anything approaching a straight face. The Hunky Punk was shot through the eye during one of his first appearances, and not a single tear was shed.
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Sidearm is a true product of the Extreme! '90s, and thanks to King Shark's insatiable appetite, we'll never know if this Superboy villain could rise above the embarrassing "superpower" of having an extra arm…on one side. We can't imagine the spinal issues having just one heavy metal arm would cause, so perhaps it's better for the guy to go out in one big chomp rather than suffer through years of corrective surgery and absurd medical bills. The only way Sidearm makes it onto film is if the next Suicide Squad needs to Red-Shirt someone in the first five minutes.
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One of the most consistent critiques of Suicide Squad is its constant desire to come off as "edgy" despite a core cast that really isn't that bad. Will Smith's Deadshot, Margot Robbie's Harley and Jay Hernandez' El Diablo all have sympathetic back stories, and the script has to constantly remind viewers that the Squad is comprised of "bad guys." So unless Donald Trump wins, don't expect future films to trot out William Heller, DC's answer to the unasked question, "What if Iron Man was really racist?" First shortening his name to William Hell before donning the White Dragon armor, Heller kicked off his vigilante career by turning criminals of color over to law enforcement while recruiting white criminals into his own white supremacist organization. He finally got what he deserved when explosive fellow squad member Plastique stuck her fingers in his eyes and roasted him alive in his suit. If WB does consider including White Dragon, perhaps David Duke will be done with his Senate run in time to audition for the part.
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At the end of his seminal run on Animal Man, mind-bending writer Grant Morrison brought protagonist Buddy Baker face to face with…himself. It was a glorious bit of meta-fiction, but to legendary Suicide Squad scribe John Ostrander, it also meant that Morrison was officially an in-play DC Comics character, and Ostrander was very skilled at cleaning out the shared pool of unnecessary extra characters. "The Writer," as Morrison was delicately called, could manipulate reality with his words, so it's only fitting he died from sudden-onset writer's block. #Relatable