Weasel: The DC Comics Origins Of Sean Gunn's The Suicide Squad Character Explained
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There seems to be some agreement between The Suicide Squad director James Gunn and his younger brother Sean Gunn that, when he casts him in one of his movies (even if he is already playing a human), he has to play a furry animal character, too. The former Gilmore Girls cast member, who has both played Kraglin and performed the on-set motion capture for Rocket Raccoon in the Marvel movies, also pulls double duty for the new Suicide Squad cast as Batman villain Calendar Man and a freaky, furry thing called Weasel. This strange, dangerous creature is actually portrayed in his DC movies debut a bit differently from how he was depicted the comics… at least in the beginning, that is. In fact, the beginning is exactly where we shall start examining Weasel's "graphic" history.
Weasel Was Originally A Human Dressed As An Animal In DC Comics
Created by writer Gerry Conway and artist Rafael Kayanan, Weasel made his DC Comics debut in June 1985, but not as the weird mutant that Sean Gunn is playing in The Suicide Squad. In the comics, Weasel, whose real name is John Monroe, is actually a human being who dons a costume that resembles his mammalian namesake when he is carrying out his latest crime spree.
You may be wondering why John Monroe would choose a creature as small and quite adorable, really, to base his supervillain persona off of. If you assumed it was because of its carnivorous appetite or the Japanese superstition which suggests that the weasel is a harbinger of misfortune, I can tell you it has nothing to do with either. In fact, the true origin may be a little bit darker.
Bullies From Weasel’s College Days Inspired His Supervillain Alias
In John Monroe’s DC Comics debut, a flashback to the 1960s shows him as a student at Stanford University, where he was treated as a bit of an outcast by people who constantly tormented him and gave a disparaging nickname. Care to guess what that name was? If you said, “Weasel,” give yourself a pat on the back. But what exactly inspired Monroe to channel this traumatic memory into a life of crime.
Years later, John Monroe would become a teacher at Vandemeer University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where many of the same people who bullied him at Stanford also happened to be employed. Somehow convinced that his former classmates may pose a threat to his tenure, Monroe decided to get back at them with an act of furry vengeance. Wearing his self-made costume and referring to himself as the very creature his classmates cruelly branded him as, Monroe sought them out and brutally murdered them one by one.
Weasel’s Archnemesis Was The Superhero Firestorm
I did not mention earlier exactly what DC comic Weasel first appears in, which is Issue #36 of The Fury of Firestorm. The title superhero of that series, Firestorm, first debuted in 1978 and was the alter ego of teenaged Ronald Roy “Ronnie” Raymond. A nuclear accident caused him to become fused with Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Martin Stein into one being with a halo of fire surrounding his head and a wide enough range of superpowers to rival Superman.
Firestorm would become the arch nemesis of John Monroe after he got in the way of his murderous rampage as Weasel. As it turns out, Monroe was actually a former colleague of Martin Stein, who transformed into the superhero when he came under Weasel’s attack. After apprehending the villain, he was incarcerated at Belle Reve - a prison in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, that also happened to be a base of operations for Task Force X.
Weasel Died During A Conflict Between Suicide Squad And Doom Patrol
Winding up in Belle Reve put John Monroe on the radar of Amanda Waller (Academy Award winner Viola Davis’ character in The Suicide Squad) who thought he could be of some use to Task Force X. She enlisted him to help the Suicide Squad rescue Hawk - the alter ego of Henry Hall who is not to be confused with Hawkman of the Justice of Society of America - on a mission that would actually be both his first and last with the team.
The Doom Patrol were actually on the Suicide Squad’s tail believing that they were out to kill Hawk. This sparked a violent conflict between the two teams that also drove Weasel to aimlessly kill The Thinker (played by Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi in The Suicide Squad. Rick Flag (whom Joel Kinnaman is reprising in the new film) put an end to the tirade when he murdered Weasel, also putting an end to his story in DC comics… or so it seemed.
Weasel’s Corpse Was Resurrected As A Member Of The Black Lantern Corps
Following his not-so-mournful death in Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special one-shot from March 1988, Weasel would actually be revived a couple more times in DC Comics. The first time would literally be a resurrection from beyond the grave.
The Geoff Johns-penned nine-part crossover event Blackest Night, which ran from July 2009 to May 2010, sees the Green Lantern Corps taking on the nefarious Nekron, who creates an army of reanimated corpses as part of his plan to eliminate all life and emotion on earth. One of those zombified villains brought back by the power of the Black Lantern ring was Weasel, as seen in the Batman-led Issue #3 of the event.
Weasel Was Reinvented As A Genuine Furry Creature In 2011
The second time that Weasel was “resurrected” in DC Comics occurred during The New 52 reboot in 2013. However, instead of a pos-mortem revival, this return saw a full reinvention of the character as the full-on human-animal hybrid who would become one of the new Suicide Squad members in James Gunn's film.
His first return occurred in a 2013 issue of Forever Evil, also by Geoff Johns, in which the clawed, fanged, and furry John Monroe tries to ambush Steve Trevor (Chris Pine’s Wonder Woman character) and Killer Frost. He is stopped, however, when Killer Frost freezes him alive before mentioning how he was never really considered to be much more than a joke among his villainous peers.
If the Guardians of the Galaxy movies have proved anything to us, it is that James Gunn is a master of giving undervalued comic book characters a second chance in the spotlight. What he has done for Weasel in his equally strange supervillain team-up epic, The Suicide Squad - now in theaters and available to stream HBO Max - is no exception.
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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 just about any article related to Batman.
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