In the marketing leading up to Suicide Squad‘s release, much of the focus has been on Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Will Smith’s Deadshot. Less attention has been paid to some of the other members of Task Force X, but that does not mean they will be any less important to the movie’s plot.
Other than Harley Quinn and Deadshot, the squad is rounded out by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and Katana (Karen Fukuhara). The latter character is somewhat of a rarity in superhero comics, although not unheard of: a hero who is both female and Asian. Fukuhara is aware of that fact, and it is part of what attracted her to the role.
Fukuhara spoke to Playboy recently about her role as Katana, and how she connected to the character. In short, the connection was a cultural one:
“As a first-generation Japanese American, I’ve always wanted to play a samurai warrior like my Suicide Squad character, Katana. Samurai are almost always male, so growing up in America I had a hard time figuring out role models. Katana and I may not have the same personality, but coming from the same cultural upbringing, we share core values. In Japanese culture there’s this idea of putting others before yourself, but I’ve also never wanted to let myself down. Someone recently told me how refreshing it is to see an Asian woman as a superhero. That stuck with me. Stand up for yourself and what you love.”
In the comics, Katana is the one member of Task Force X other than its leader Rick Flag who volunteers for the job rather than being coerced into it. In that sense, she may be the closest thing to a role model among the team. That doesn’t mean she always plays nice, though, as those on the receiving end of her soul-stealing samurai sword would attest. Her skills in stealth and martial arts also make her a formidable opponent.
Fukuhara is a relative unknown going into Suicide Squad, with the movie being her sole IMDB credit. Depending on the movie’s success, though, that could very well change. With all the controversy lately surrounding Hollywood’s whitewashing of Asian roles, a Japanese-American actress building her career on a Japanese character who can hold her own against a Celtic Ancient One or Caucasian Major Kusanagi can only be a good thing.
Suicide Squad opens in U.S. theaters on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017;Justice League on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.