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Warning: SPOILERS for The Suicide Squad are ahead!
As the tenth DC Extended Universe movie, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is one of the most standalone entries in this superhero franchise. Not only do you not need to have seen 2016’s Suicide Squad to enjoy this newest adventure centered on Task Force X, but it also doesn’t directly tie into any of the other past DCEU movies. If this is your first time venturing into the DCEU, you’d have no trouble following along with the tale featuring characters like Bloodsport, Harley Quinn, Peacemaker and King Shark, among many others.
However, all this isn’t to say that The Suicide Squad doesn’t include any ties or references to the wider DC universe. Quite the opposite, as below you’ll find the eight best DC Comics callouts in the movie, ranging from outright name drops to some subtler Easter eggs. Let’s start with an example of the former.
Bloodsport Shooting Superman
Superman is the only superhero in The Suicide Squad to get a shoutout, and that’s because Idris Elba’s Bloodsport did a number on him. According to Amanda Waller, Bloodsport, a.k.a. Robert DuBois, was locked up in Belle Reve for shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet, which put the Man of Steel in the ICU. Bloodsport pulled off that same crime in the comics, although in that instance, he was hired by people working for Lex Luthor to assassinate Superman. It’s unclear if the DCEU’s Bloodsport did so for the same reason, but considering this version of the character is also a contract killer, we can surmise someone paid him to target the Kryptonian superhero rather than him just doing so on a whim.
Calendar Man, Double Down And Kaleidoscope
The majority of supervillains who show up in The Suicide Squad are part of Task Force X, but we do get brief glimpses of other baddies being held at Belle Reve. When we meet David Dastmalchian’s Polka-Dot Man, he gets insulted by Calendar Man, played by Sean Gunn, who also appears in the movie as Weasel. Calendar Man is a Batman villain most people nowadays know best from Batman: The Long Halloween, Next to him during the scene is Jared Leland Gore as Double Down, a Flash villain who can peel an unlimited supply of mystical, razor-sharp playing cards from his body in the comics. Shortly beforehand, right before we meet Ratcatcher 2, we also briefly see Natalia Safran as Kaleidoscope, a minor villain who showed up in two issues of the Superboy comic book.
Qurac And Avral Kaddam
When Bloodsport learned that Rick Flag was part of Task Force X’s operation in Corto Maltese, Amanda Waller noted how the two men knew each other from operating in Qurac to take out Avral Kaddam, and that it was Flag who recommended Robert DuBois for The Suicide Squad. Like Corto Maltese, Qurac is a fictional nation within the DC universe that’s located in the Middle East, and Avral Kaddam is the man who briefly seized power after its president was overthrown. But Qurac holds an especially important place within The Suicide Squad’s comics history, as you’ll read in the next section.
In the DCEU, Jotunheim is the World War II-era fortress in Corto Maltese where Peter Capaldi’s Gaius Graves, a.k.a. The Thinker, ran experiments on Starro. In the DC Comics universe, Jotunheim was also established by the Nazis during the Second World War, but it was located in Qurac instead. John Ostrander’s run on Suicide Squad opened with the title team traveling to the fortress after learning that President Marlo (the man who preceded Avral Kaddam as ruler of Qurac) hired a terrorist group called the Jihad to attack the United States. The Suicide Squad successfully eliminate most of the Jihad on that first mission, and Jotunheim was later destroyed in a clear explosion triggered by Rick Flag.
The Joker was an important character in Suicide Squad, and that movie ended with the Clown Prince of Crime rescuing Harley Quinn from Belle Reve. However, the couple broke up shortly before the events of Birds of Prey, and not only does Joker not return for The Suicide Squad, he isn’t even actually mentioned by name. However, his presence is definitely felt during one of Harley’s key scenes. After proposing marriage to Margot Robbie’s character, Cortol Maltese dictator Silvio Luna told her how he’d kill anybody who voiced opposition to his regime, including children. That resulted in Harley shooting him, as she made a promise to herself that the next time she saw any red flags in a future boyfriend, she would “do the healthy thing” and murder him. Then she gives a speech explaining her reasoning behind this drastic act, and it’s abundantly clear that her time with The Joker fueled this rationale.
In the comics, Polka-Dot Man is named as such because the polka-dots on his costume can turn into different weapons and vehicles. In The Suicide Squad, Abner Krill was instead exposed to an interdimensional virus that caused him to grow multi-colored polka dots and pustules from his body, requiring him to expel the dots from his body at least twice a day, or they’d consume him. Abner was exposed to the virus by his mother, who worked as a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs and was desperate to turn her children into superheroes, though Abner was among the few who survived her experiments. S.T.A.R. Labs has been one of DC Comics’ most important institutions for decades, and Dr. Silas Stone was head of S.T.A.R. Labs in the DCEU continuity until the events of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, using its resources to save his son, Victor, and turn him into Cyborg.
At one point in The Suicide Squad, while waiting for an update on Task Force X’s mission, Amanda Waller is seen practicing her putting in preparation for a golf game with Senator Cray. In the comics, Senator Joseph Cray was implicated in selling state secrets, leading to a series of events that ended with Deadshot killing Cray, which he did to prevent Rick Flag from pulling the trigger. Joseph’s son, Adam Cray, later joined the Squad briefly when he was serving as The Atom, but he was killed in action. Joseph Cray was played by Steven Culp in an episode of Arrow, as seen above.
While all the prior entries in this list have been callouts to things within DC Comics lore itself, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the cameo from the man who’s responsible for giving us the modern depiction of the Suicide Squad. Although the Squad has been around since 1959, it was writer John Ostrander who reinvented the team as being made up of incarcerated supervillains who go on dangerous missions for the U.S. government in exchange for leniency on their sentences or other rewards. So it was nice to see Ostrander cameoing in The Suicide Squad as Dr. Fitzgibbon, the man who injected Savant with the microbomb that Amanda Waller later detonated when Michael Rooker’s character tried to flee the battlefield.
Don’t forget to read CinemaBlend’s review of The Suicide Squad and keep checking back with us for more coverage on the new DCEU installment, as well as its forthcoming spinoff series, HBO Max’s Peacemaker (use this link to sign up for the streaming service). You can also find out what this corner of the superhero movie market has coming up with our upcoming DC Comics movies guide.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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