Savant: What We Know About Michael Rooker's The Suicide Squad Character From DC Comics

Michael Rooker as Savant in The Suicide Squad

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As soon as writer and director James Gunn was handed the opportunity to helm a new film about bad guys forced into doing some good, it was only a matter of time before we would be asking who Michael Rooker’s The Suicide Squad character was going to be. The 66-year-old Guardians of the Galaxy star has been a frequent collaborator of Gunn’s since appearing in his 2006 horror comedy Slither and now Gunn is making Rooker a star of the DCEU movies as Savant - a character even the most experienced DC Comics readers may barely recognize at all. 

Well, to prepare the unfamiliar in time for when The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max this August, the following is breakdown of the most essential facts regarding one of Task Force X’s newest recruits, starting with the source of his “power.”

Brian Durlin is Savant

Savant Is A Rich, Spoiled Computer Genius

Created by DC Comics writer Gail Simone and artist Ed Benes, Savant is the alter ego of Brian Durlin, whose first comic book appearance was in the 56th issue of Birds of Prey in August 2003. The debut would reveal that he is the heir to an enormous fortune and his privilege has left him selfish and overindulgent.

The character’s supervillain alias is meant to pay reference to his genius-level intellect, particularly when it comes to business management, speaking multiple languages, and, especially, when working with computers. Savant is also a skilled combatant, with a specialty in fighting with sticks, which one might assume would have been his claim to fame if his initial life aspirations had gone as planned.

Ben Affleck as Batman in Zack Snyder's Justice League

Savant Originally Wanted To Be A Hero Before Batman Discouraged Him

Being a super rich dude with genius-level intelligence, prominent skills in business, and martial arts mastery would have made Brian Durlin a grade A candidate to be the next Batman. In fact, that was essentially his goal when he moved himself to Gotham City in hopes to be the next great vigilante. Ironically, the city’s most influential hero would ultimately cause him to turn to the dark side.

When Savant arrived in Gotham to begin his career as a hero, he would soon be turned away from the life of a vigilante by Batman. The Dark Knight cited Brian Durlin’s lack of interest in actually offering his protection to anyone as the reason for his discouragement. Savant took this to heart and decided that, if he could not use his abilities for good in Gotham City, he might be able to find success on the other side of justice.

Creote and Savant

Savant Set His Sights On The Business Of Blackmail

With his heroic aspirations put behind him, Savant set out to be the best supervillain he could with the skill set he has acquired. He would end up taking advantage of his business skills and his expertise behind a computer keyboard to create his own blackmailing operation. Savant’s blackmail business was quickly booming, taking on various shady clients and earning some very impressive return profits (not that the billionaire ever really needed any more money, that is).

Aiding him in this operation was his trusted Russian partner Aleksandr Creote - a former agent of the KGB who would hide a secret romantic affection he had for his business associate while working together. His devoted following of Savant would continue even after they were forced to abandon the blackmailing business and the supervillain lifestyle for a second chance at being a hero. Of course, it was through an unlikely means that he would receive this opportunity.

Savant and Huntress from Birds of Prey

A Heinous Act Led To Savant’s Recruitment Into The Birds Of Prey

Despite how better off he seemed when pursuing the life of a supervillain, Savant was still pretty pissed at Batman for turning him away from the more heroic lifestyle. Thus, he attempted to get closer to the Dark Knight by kidnapping and torturing Birds of Prey member Black Canary in hopes to convince leader Oracle (a later, post-Batgirl alias of Barbara Gordon) to reveal his secret identity.

His plan was thwarted when Barbara Gordon sent Huntress to successfully defeat Savant and rescue Black Canary. However, after realizing he was too dangerous of a threat to have against them and discovering that he had valuable information on hundreds of other criminals in Gotham City, Gordon decided to try rehabilitating Savant by recruiting him and Aleksandr Creote onto the Birds to Prey. Gordon would often regret this decision, though, partially of his radical methods and his obvious crush on her, which is likely rooted in his envy over her incomparable computer skills.

Michael Rooker in The Suicide Squad

Despite His Genius, Savant Suffers From A Non-Linear Memory

Outside of his selfishness and reckless behavior, Brian Durlin suffers from one other debilitating characteristic that makes him a less likely hero. While his remarkable intelligence is without doubt, he was, unfortunately, born with a chemical imbalance that causes his non-linear memory, giving him a worldview similar to the narrative structure of some of the Quentin Tarantino movies. As a result, he tends forget a lot of things which, actually, would work out in his advantage in one instance.

Once, Savant was kidnapped a group of criminals called the Society (formerly the Secret Society of Super-Villains) as part of a plan by the Calculator to get ahold of Oracle. However, the plan failed since Savant’s non-linear perception allowed him to resist the interrogation, believing the tutelage had lasted mere hours while, in reality, he had been held captive for days. He was later rescued by the Birds of Prey, with whom he soon would cut ties after angrily attempting to murder Society member, Spider.

Michael Rooker has played a few hot-headed characters in his day, from Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead to Yondu Udonta in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It seems like choosing him to play the ill-tempered Savant among all of The Suicide Squad’s new members was a no-brainer for James Gunn. That being said, seeing what he will bring to this character and what the character will bring to what is already one of the most anticipated 2021 movies is exciting.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.