The comic book movie news cycle was hit with a surprising story yesterday, as The Wrap broke the news that James Gunn has been hired by DC to write and possibly direct Suicide Squad 2. Gunn had previously been set to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for Disney and Marvel, but was fired just a few months ago due to the emergence of controversial tweets from the filmmaker’s past.
Snatching up Gunn is a big power play by DC — and one that virtually guarantees Suicide Squad 2 will be better than David Ayer’s nigh-incomprehensible first film — but why the sudden change in creative direction? After all, Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant) was already locked down to handle the sequel and Gunn’s hiring means he almost certainly isn’t involved anymore. Well, according to Variety Film Reporter Justin Kroll, it all has to do with Birds of Prey.
As Kroll writes, Suicide Squad 2 under O’Connor was proving to be too similar to Birds of Prey, DC’s upcoming all-female superhero/supervillain team-up movie starring Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. “On the Gavin O’Connor front in relation to [Suicide Squad 2],” Kroll tweeted yesterday, “hearing the story he had for the sequel ended up almost being identical to the BIRDS OF PREY story and when that film was given the go ahead to go before [Suicide Squad 2], O’Connor grew frustrated and fell off the project to do HAS BEEN instead.”
On the Gavin O'Connor front in relation to SS2, hearing the story he had for the sequel ended up almost being identical to the BIRDS OF PREY story and when that film was given the go ahead to go before SQUAD 2, O'Connor grew frustrated and fell off project to do HAS BEEN instead
— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) October 9, 2018
Birds of Prey is due out in 2020 and it was recently announced that Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Rosie Perez have been cast as Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya, respectively. As for Suicide Squad 2, it’s expected that most of the original cast will return, though Guardians of the Galaxy star and vocal James Gunn supporter Dave Bautista has expressed interest in joining the film now that Gunn is involved.
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20 Hidden Details In Suicide Squad You May Have Missed
Suicide Squad is certainly an odd movie for Warner Bros. and DC to position as one of the earliest introductions to their shared cinematic universe. As an offbeat ensemble picture focused primarily on B and C-list villains, David Ayer’s latest film would seem like a tough sell for audiences who have likely never read a Suicide Squad comic or are unfamiliar with a majority of the characters. Although the film does an adequate, if insufficient job of filling in the gaps, Suicide Squad is a film that truly rewards the observant comic book fan, as it’s packed with all sorts of references and hidden Easter eggs. While some of the following are easier to spot than others, you would certainly be hard-pressed to catch all of the following hidden details upon first viewing!
20. Harley Quinn and Joker – Alex Ross Cover
It’s hard not to notice the brief shot during Harley Quinn’s introductory sequence of the former Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel and her Mr. J dancing arm in arm while dressed to the nines, with the Joker in a dapper suit and Harley in her traditional red and black jester costume. What you may not realize is that this shot is a direct callback to artist Alex Ross’ famous cover for Batman: Harley Quinn. It’s certainly a shame that we only get to see Harley in her original costume for this brief moment, but we’ll give it a pass considering it honors one of the greatest comic book artists of all time.
19. Harley Quinn’s Umbrella
Harley spends most of the film utilizing her baseball bat, but she’s also briefly shown holding an oversized (and deadly-looking) mallet, as well as an umbrella. The umbrella is of particular note; partly because you may have not even noticed it, but also because it’s red and black, a reference to the color scheme of Harley’s jester costume in Batman: The Animated Series.
During Deadshot’s prologue, we see him fulfill a contract for a man on the phone whom he essentially shakes down for more money before he’ll perform the hit. The man Deadshot is talking to is named Angelo and seems to have some powerful connections, possibly to the mob. While it’s never explicitly mentioned, this appears to be Angelo Mirti, a member of the Falcone Crime Family and bodyguard of Carmine Falcone’s daughter Sofia Gigante, both prominent members of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Fun fact: the voice of Angelo is provided by Robin Atkin Downes, who has performed in no less than 17 DC properties, including animation, live action, and video games. Most recently, he played Detective Bullock in The Killing Joke and provided the “voice” of Doomsday in Batman v Superman.
17. Rick Flag Redux
The DC Movie Universe has proven that it loves its stunt casting, particularly when it involves Smallville, as Man of Steel featured multiple actors who had roles in that series in bit parts. David Ayer took a page out of Zack Snyder’s book for Suicide Squad by casting Ted Whittall as Admiral Olsen, one of the men Amanda Waller sits down with to discuss Task Force X. Why is Whittal’s involvement significant. Well, he played Rick Flag on Smallville, leading the Suicide Squad into battle during the show’s tenth season.
16. Cicada Restaurant
The restaurant where Amanda Waller takes her guests to discuss the formation of Task Force X is called the Cicada, a reference to the DC Comics cult of the same name. Founded by David Hersch, Cicada is a cult that appears in the Flash comics, with Hersch as their immortal leader (he can gain life force from other people, not unlike Incubus’ ability in Suicide Squad).
15. Derek Tolliver
If you watched Stranger Things on Netflix at any point over the last month, you probably recognized that show’s David Harbour in a small role in Suicide Squad. It turns out that Harbour isn’t playing some no-name government official, bur rather Derek Tolliver, a character who appeared in John Ostrander’s initial Suicide Squad comic run. In that comic, he plays an intermediate of sorts between Waller and Task Force X, whereas in the film he helps Waller get approval for creating the task force and then disappears from the film completely.
14. Superman Tearing The Roof Off The White House
During the scene where Waller is trying to convince her superiors that Task Force X is a good idea, Tolliver asks a hypothetical question about what would have happened if Superman had decided to tear the White House roof off and grab the President. It’s a valid question (that admittedly rings a bit hollow considering Superman just recently died a hero Batman v Superman) but it’s also a scenario we’ve seen on screen before. Superman fans will recall that the White House roof gets torn off in Superman II, but by General Zod and his Kryptonian lieutenants rather than the Man of Steel himself. Of course, that scenario plays out a bit differently than the one imagined by Tolliver, as Lex Luthor uses it as a means to seat himself in the Oval Office, but it’s still a nice callback all the same.
13. Jonny Frost
Actor Jim Parrack, who also appeared in David Ayer’s previous film Fury, was rumored to be playing Deathstroke in the lead-up to Suicide Squad’s release. It turns out that the actor has a much less important role, but an interesting one nonetheless. While he’s never referred to by name, the “Mr. Frost” name on his military uniform’s sleeve indicates that Parrack plays Jonny Frost, the Joker’s right hand man in the comics. Frost is the narrator of Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s “Joker” graphic novel, which was used as inspiration for certain elements in the film.
12. Midway City
Although the city in which the majority of Suicide Squad is set sure seems a lot like Gotham City, it’s revealed to be Midway City at a certain point in the movie. Many viewers are likely unfamiliar with this lesser known DC Comics locale; it’s based on Chicago (but is actually located in Michigan) and is the home to several heroes including Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and is also the base of operations for the Doom Patrol.
11. Aussie Mailbag
It’s no secret that Captain Boomerang is Australian, as the film makes note of the fact that he’s a bank robber from down under. Still, the way that Boomerang is introduced contains a reference to the character’s nationality that most viewers probably missed on account of the sheer lunacy of seeing a man emerge from a travelling sack and begin taking swings at everyone in sight. It turns out that the bag Boomerang arrives in is an oversized Australia Post mailbag; an oddball touch considering Boomerang was apprehended by The Flash in the United States, so he didn’t actually get shipped from Australia. Evidently, Amanda Waller’s goons have a sense of humor about this sort of stuff.
10. The Enchantress’ Weird Bath
This is one of the more clever Suicide Squad Easter eggs, primarily because it likely went right over the heads of all but the biggest DC geeks who saw the film. During the introduction sequence for Dr. June Moone/Enchantress and Rick Flag, there’s a moment where Flag finds his lover in a tub filled with grass, sitting beneath a pentagram. The pentagram requires no explanation but the grass itself is called panicum capilare or witchgrass. The plant has traditionally been used to ward off evil magic and to entice lovers, both of which apply to this scene rather well.
9. Slipknot And Boomerang
Slipknot (Adam Beach) definitely gets the short end of the stick when it comes to things like screen time and characterization, as the character is in the film all of five minutes before uncerimoniously being killed off to prove that Waller isn’t messing around with the whole bomb implant thing. In the film, it’s Captain Boomerang that convinces Slipknot to try and make an escape, feeding into the Suicide Squad comic trope of Boomerang always trying to show off how villainous he is by sacrificing and/or killing a member of the team. In Issue #10, Slipknot becomes Boomerang’s latest victim, as the Aussie tells him that the bomb is a fake and that he’ll be making a break for it the first chance he gets. In the comic, Slipknot loses his arm (the bombs were bracelets in this case) but in the film, he loses quite a bit more.
8. Watchmen References
Although Suicide Squad is the first DCEU film not directed by Zack Snyder, you’d be hard-pressed to tell given that there are several references to Watchmen strewn throughout. The first is the name of the building that the squad finds Amanda Waller holed up in, the Jonathan Osterman Building. As any Watchmen fan will tell you, that’s the name of Doctor Manhattan before he gets transformed into a god-like being who doesn’t like to wear pants. Later on, there’s a scene where Deadshot stares longingly into the window of a children’s clothing store. Behind the child mannequins, there’s a hard to miss yellow smiley face that is of course a symbol closely associated with the Comedian. Could these Watchmen Easter eggs be setting up a future crossover event in DC movies, much like what has happened recently with the Rebirth comics line? Only time will tell.
7. Captain Griggs
Played by Ike Barinholtz, Captain Griggs is the Benreve guard who makes life a living hell for inmates like Deadshot and Harley Quinn. His name is somewhat significant, as it’s likely that he’s named after Keith Griggs, a DC Comics character who fights alongside Wonder Woman’s ally Steve Trevor, who just happened to found the shady government agency ARGUS with Amanda Waller.
6. Katana’s Wardrobe Details
What Katana lacks in basic character development, she makes up for in obscure costume details that few people will have even noticed. Her outfit literally has the words of her origin story imprinted on them, with the clalligraphy speaking of things like her deceased husband and Katana’s promise that “for him I wait a thousand years.” Sure, it would have been nice to have actually seen this backstory in action, but it’s still cool that the costume department went to so much trouble to nail down these kinds of character details.
5. Harley’s Book
In the final scene of the movie, Harley Quinn can be seen relaxing in her cell enjoying her new espresso machine and reading a book. The book she’s reading is Between The Sheets by Molly O’Keefe, a story that actually parallels Harley’s quite closely. O’Keefe’s book follows a drifter who tries to tempt his uptight female neighbor to the “wild side” by convincing her to leave her professional life, mirroring the way the Joker gets Harley to leave behind her doctor’s life and become his insane girlfriend.
4. Joker and Harley Children?
During the sequence where the Joker surrounds himself with every weapon in the known universe (or just the ones he happens to own anyway), two pairs of baby clothes—one pink, one blue— can be spotted in the top right corner of the frame as the camera spins around. This is an interesting detail that connects to the later scene where Harley imagines a normal life with Mr. J and their two small children, which suggests that they may have both considered having kids at some point. Or perhaps the clothes are just thrown in there to make us all over-analyze the significance of them being there (or because Jared Leto really wanted us to know that his Joker is so hardcore, he kills infants …)
3. The Joker’s Wardrobe Changes
Jared Leto may not have many scenes as the Joker in Suicide Squad, but he sure makes the most of them when it comes to his character’s wardrobe! The Joker wears several different outfits throughout the movie and each one is a reference to an important Batman story. The tuxedo and white glove combo is from “Death in the Family” (1988), the white coat and purple shirt are from “The Dark Knight Returns” (1986), while his brown waistcoat appears in Brian Azarello’s “Joker” (2008).
2. The Joker’s Gold Weapon
Jared Leto doesn’t get many scenes to show off his particular brand of Joker insanity in Suicide Squad, but the scene where he fires upon the squad with a Norinco Type 56-1 from a helicopter certainly stands out. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the clown prince of crime’s gun is gold-plated, a callback to director David Ayer’s film End of Watch. In that film, LAPD officer Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) finds a similar weapon during a traffic stop. An in-universe connection perhaps?
1. Robin’s Killer
Based on the Robin outfit briefly glimpsed in Batman v Superman, many assumed that the Joker was responsible for the Boy Wonder’s death in the DC Movie Universe, much like in the infamous 1988 comic story “A Death in the Family.” However, thanks to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot in Suicide Squad, it looks like the Joker may not be the culprit after all. During Harley Quinn’s introductory sequence, her criminal history pops up briefly, detailing that Harley admitted to murdering Robin. Of course, nothing has been explicitly detailed in any of the DC movies yet regarding Robin’s fate, so it could still very well have been the Joker who did the deed (perhaps he convinced Harley to confess to the crime?), but until that revelation finally comes, this Easter Egg has definitely given us something to mull over.