By all accounts, Suicide Squad is set to be one of the more unusual cinematic offerings -- not just for DC Comics, but the superhero movie genre as a whole. However, as many who have watched the trailer and read the various reports surrounding the production have deduced, the 2016 blockbuster shares a lot of similarities with a previous Batman movie. No, not a live action one, but one from the world of animation. I’m talking Batman: Assault on Arkham, the 2014 DC Universe Animated Original Movie that existed in the same universe as the Arkham video games.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, Batman: Assault on Arkham followed the Suicide Squad as they were sent by Amanda Waller to break into Arkham Asylum to kill The Riddler and destroy a thumb drive with information on the team that he planned to make public. However, their goal changes when they discover that Riddler can help free them from the government’s control, resulting in everything going to hell. It works well both as a standalone feature and a tie-in to the Arkhamverse, and is also one of the most prominent ways the Suicide Squad has been represented in other media.
As with any Suicide Squad story, each project shares the basic elements. Villains go to jail, villains get recruited to go on dangerous black ops missions in exchange for leniency, villains get bombs injected into their body so they don’t try to screw everything up. Then there’s Task Force X head Amanda Waller, who is just as ruthless (if not more so) as the convicts she manipulates to fulfill her goals. Obviously there are differences between the two projects as well, such as the team lineup being different other than shared members Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Captain Boomerang. However, if you look closely, there is quite a bit in common between them as well.
The main similarities between the movies are largely with how deeply rooted they are in the Batman mythos. Both movies feature The Joker not only in a meaningful role, but also imprisoned at Arkham Asylum. In Assault on Arkham’s case, he takes advantage of the Squad’s infiltration of Arkham Asylum to escape from his cell and cause chaos, thus making him a direct threat. It’s still unclear how Joker is directly involved in Suicide Squad’s main story outside of his relationship with Harley Quinn, but knowing the Clown Prince of Crime, whatever he has planned will be trouble for both sides. If he is indeed being kept watch by Amanda Waller in order to keep Harley Quinn in check, then don’t be surprised if his murderous shenanigans end up compromising their mission.
Then there’s Gotham City’s shadowy protector, The Batman. In Assault on Arkham, Batman directly takes on the Squad while he’s trying to find a dirty bomb that Joker hid (it turns out it was hidden in Harley’s mallet, which was locked away in Arkham). It’s likely the only reason DC included him name on the title was to sell the story to buyers not familiar with the comics, as this is primarily a Suicide Squad story. As for Ben Affleck’s Batman, he’s only been seen in a car chase with The Joker and Harley Quinn so far (presumably in a flashback), but various reports indicate he’ll appear at several points investigating the Squad and may even corner Waller in her office and express his displeasure with what she’s doing, just like he did in Assault on Arkham. Still, compared to what he did in the animated movie, don’t expect his presence to be as prominent. After all, he’ll have already led another movie earlier in the year.
There are smaller similarities as well, such as Harley Quinn and Deadshot’s "relationship" and Amanda Waller being much more villainous rather than a demanding task master. However, with Suicide Squad still 10 months away, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the plot. For all we know, there are unrevealed aspects that will take the blockbuster in a different direction than the animated movie. It’s also unclear whether director David Ayer was directly inspired by Assault on Arkham in the same way that Zack Snyder took inspiration from The Dark Knight Returns for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, it’s clear that fans have noticed what these movies have in common, and considering that Assault on Arkham received a lot of good reviews, Suicide Squad sharing certain elements (purposefully or accidentally) isn’t a bad thing.
If you haven’t watched it already, check out Batman: Assault on Arkham to see if you can spot any other similarities between it and what we know about Suicide Squad. As for the live action movie, it hits theaters on August 5, 2016.