Make no mistake, DC Comics fans: the shared movie universe set to be launched by Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to get a bit more interesting – and fast. After DC’s three heaviest hitters duke it out on screen, it will be director David Ayer’s Suicide Squad taking the next step forward, introducing some of the most lasting DC villains in an ensemble adventure.
Now that the final roster of villains – and their respective actors – has been revealed, there’s a good chance that even seasoned comic fans may have some questions. With Warner Bros. relying on DC’s biggest names for box office success thus far, the introduction of masked assassins, a boomerang-throwing criminal-for-hire and a mystical entity may make little sense. But we’ve been arguing for some time that the Squad may be just what DC needs.
Even so, the famous villains in the cast don’t cover up the lesser-known, or the more outlandish. But given the universe-building nature of the movie, and the chance for these villains to re-appear once their freedom is earned, we figured a crash course in the more questionable members was warranted. Beginning with the scarved madman, ‘Captain Boomerang.’
5. The Origin
As one might expect from a villain known as ‘Captain Boomerang,’ the origin story of George “Digger” Harkness falls on the sillier side of DC’s Silver Age. Introduced as a villain to The Flash, the Australian boy with a chip on his shoulder grew up to master the boomerang before heading to America. Once arriving, he landed the perfect job: acting as spokesman for a toy boomerang company, adopting the moniker – and uniform – of Captain Boomerang.
Predictably, the marketing move was a terrible one, and Harkness soon turned to crime, maintaining the name and colorful costume. Before long, he joined up with the rest of The Flash’s Rogues – but every class needs a clown, and that’s a role Harkness fits perfectly (generally annoying everyone forced to work alongside him).
That grating personality carried over to his time as a member of Task Force X (a.k.a. Suicide Squad), carrying out missions with the likes of Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, and Plastique in order to shorten his incarceration. Acting as both comedic relief and the most despicable member of the villainous team for writer John Ostrander, Boomerang never managed to disappoint when it came to his taste for betrayal.
Yet the character’s uniquely selfish personality and unflappable confidence has made him a lasting one ever since, moving in and out of the Squad, the Rogues Gallery, and proving that – scarf or no – boomerangs really are a deadly weapon in the right hands.
4. The Update
As the times changed, so did Boomerang (like many of his fellow Silver Age baddies). Those interested in the Suicide Squad film may simply scoff at the villain upon first glance of his outfit, or the idea that a novelty like boomerangs could be taken seriously. With that in mind, the character’s recent re-styling has seen his oddball headgear replaced, his boomerang-patterned tunic removed, and his arsenal shifted from ‘funny’ to ‘fatal.’
Fans of The CW’s Arrow recently got a glimpse of how a modern spin on Boomerang can work in live-action, casting the villain as a renegade operative who racks up twice as many kills thanks to his chosen weapon. But with the Suicide Squad take on the Aussie assassin, a strong influence may be coming not from Digger Harkness – but his son, Owen Mercer.
Like many of the second (or ‘modern’) generation DC characters, Owen Mercer was introduced as a more… relatable villain for today’s youth. As a brooding, occasionally hot-headed successor to his father’s title as Captain Boomerang (known to his friends as ‘Boomer’), Owen found himself walking the same path. Learning the art of the ‘rang from his father – and blessed with limited super-speed throws thanks to his speedster mother – Owen would join another version of the Suicide Squad, as well as a brief tenure as one of Batman’s reformed Outsiders.
The point being: while Digger Harkness’ design would adopt many changes introduced with his son, movie fans should expect to see elements of both at work. Ideally, taking the lead from Owen – not Digger – would provide a quiet, unpredictable, but ultimately intelligent member of the team. Perhaps not the source of comic relief or extreme betrayal, but a strong enough character to demand future appearances.
3. The Action
Like his name, the powers and strategies employed in combat by Boomerang are fairly straightforward. And even if the real-world boomerangs pioneered by Australian tribes aren’t exactly as deadly as the film might imply, that doesn’t mean that the success of the character hinges on them entirely.
In truth, the term ‘boomerang’ can incorporate the most famous returning throwing sticks (ranging from a few inches long to several feet), flat stick meant to be simply thrown directly at a target, or even ‘battle boomerangs’ used as knives or clubs for hand-to-hand combat. Strip all the comic book lore away, and a convicted killer who wields those kinds of weapons with expertise could prove to be worth the price of admission alone.
Although Suicide Squad was once rumored to include certified superhumans like Vixen or Blockbuster, it seems that the film will be following a more grounded or believable direction for its team of convicted villains. That rules out plenty of Boomerang’s more…outlandish powers – like acting as a human boomerang, or controlling his weapons telepathically – but the animated side of DC’s universe has shown promise for him already.
Fans already have a glimpse of what to expect in the animated feature Batman: Assault on Arkham, which, despite having the Dark Knight’s name in its title, is a test-run for the Suicide Squad more than anything else. In it, a mouthy and conniving projectile-throwing operative proved invaluable. Arrow offered even more evidence, so it’s up to director David Ayer to make the most of him.
2. The Actor
They say that any publicity is good publicity, but Jai Courtney’s path to Hollywood success story has encountered some hurdles. After well-received roles in both Spartacus and Jack Reacher, the Australian actor wound up playing supporting roles in A Good Day to Die Hard, Divergent, I, Frankenstein, and the upcoming Terminator: Genisys. While those roles brought exposure, the critical responses were less than flattering.
Given that, the average movie-goer’s opinion of Courtney may be divided between those who feel that his earlier work showed his potential under the right creative forces, and those who have attached his name to the stigma of disappointment. With a few strong roles still under his belt, it seems David Ayer and WB see Suicide Squad as a prime chance for him to show what he’s capable of.
Either that, or an Australian actor was a key requirement in bringing the Aussie comic book villain to life on-screen (which is an intriguing thought in itself). The question of what to expect from Courtney’s performance may ultimately be answered by David Ayer’s previous films, in which supporting roles proved to be some of the most strangely compelling.
With Fury, Ayer turned to Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) and Shia LaBeouf (Transformers) – both actors whose ‘range’ may still be questioned by some – to play the part of a somewhat deranged soldier, and a deeply-scarred man of faith. And their surprising success resulted in one of the year’s best ensemble films.
Even Captain America himself, Chris Evans was given a quiet (but captivating) supporting role alongside Keanu Reeves in Ayer’s Street Kings. If Ayer keeps up his habit of nuanced, character-driven ensemble storylines, then Courtney may get the same chance to show a new side as well.
1. What Comes Next?
The exact plan surrounding Suicide Squad remains something of a mystery. When word of the films surfaced years ago, its role seemed simply enough: a film series able to introduce new villains to WB’s movie universe, gauge audience reaction, and see which villains could shift to standalone franchises. With word that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor could also make an appearance, it seems the studio is looking to move successful villains into the series as well.
It’s unwise to think that the movie is a one-time deal; there may have only been one Suicide Squad film announced as part of WB’s official slate, but we also know that solo Batman and Superman films were left out of the announcement. If the film’s high-profile cast is intended to remain attached for sequels, then the long-running rivalry between de facto team leader Deadshot (Will Smith) and Boomerang could become a central subplot.
And trust us: putting the trigger to the team’s surgically-installed explosives in the hands of Digger Harkness isn’t good for anyone.
Yet any fan of The Flash is likely to feel that Boomerang’s history with the scarlet speedster means a jump to that film series is all but a given. Until the movie’s tone is established or even remarked upon, it’s hard to state definitively whether or not WB is indeed planning to unite the hero and his Rogue at all.
But as we mentioned before, the fact that both Digger Harkness and his son Owen Mercer have found their way onto the Squad, the Secret Society of Supervillains, and Dick Grayson’s new Outsiders means whatever incarnation of the boomerang-wielding outlaw audiences will be seeing, he’s free to stick around as long as the studio wishes.
Those are the essential facts for any casual comic book movie fan to get a sense of what to expect from Jai Courtney’s ‘Boomerang’ in Suicide Squad – and see why a silly name doesn’t rule out a compelling action hero or rebellious soldier (‘rang-slinger?). Have we piqued your curiosity at all, or do you still have your doubts that the character can work on the big screen, even under Ayer’s supervision? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Below you’ll find more coverage of Suicide Squad – CLICK any LINK for more info on that topic.
- Suicide Squad Official Cast Revealed
- Suicide Squad Director Says the Movie Will be ‘Dirty Dozen’ with Supervillains
- Suicide Squad Creator Talks Movie, Casting & More
- Suicide Squad: Viola Davis Cast as Amanda Waller?
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for Suicide Squad updates, as well as TV, movie and gaming news.