Just weeks away from one of the most anticipated films of the summer, Suicide Squad looks to be a return to form for Warner Bros. and DC. After the critically maligned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, director David Ayer and company look to create a fun adventure with a truly unique take on the superhero genre. This baddie-focused film looks to be just the adventure that comic book fans (DC fans in particular) have been waiting for.
One of the film’s featured characters is the Japanese-American swordswoman Katana. With various powers, attributes, traits, and motivations, Katana has the potential to be one of Suicide Squad‘s more interesting characters, surprisingly enough. With this sword-wielding samurai warrior serving as one of the movie’s relative unknowns, there are more than a few interesting facts you’ll need to know. Everything from the character’s backstory to the actress portraying the perceived baddie, this list serves as a one-stop shop for everything related to Katana, from her humble beginnings in the pages of DC Comics to her various television roles and more.
Here is Suicide Squad: 15 Things You Need to Know About Katana.
15. Tragic Backstory
First appearing in issue #200 of The Brave and the Bold back in the early 1980s, Katana has since been a major player in many DC Comics over the decades, and her backstory has largely remained the same. Growing up as an average Japanese girl, Tatsu Yamashiro, aka Katana, was encouraged by her parents to pursue martial arts training, and it quickly it became apparent that young girl had a real talent for the practiced skill. She later went on to train in the ways of the samurai.
As Tatsu grew older, she attracted the attention of several men – brothers Maseo and Takeo most notably. Forced to choose between the two, although she admittedly loved them both, she chose Maseo, and they were soon married. Tatsu later gave birth to twins, Yuki and Reiko. Ensuing events eventually led to Takeo disowning his brother and joining the infamous Yakuza. After a few years away, the estranged brother would challenge Maseo to a duel for Tatsu’s hand. This duel tragically led to the death of Maseo and their two children, and the sword that took the life of Katana’s husband became known as “Soultaker.”
14. Her Weapon Of Choice, Soultaker, Is No Ordinary Sword
Returning home to find the unspeakable damage that the jealous brother, Takeo, had caused, Tatsu fought and disarmed her former love. Soon, Tatsu realized that the soul of her deceased husband was trapped inside of the blade, and surprisingly enough, she was able to communicate with him. Taking the sword – aptly named “Soultaker” – for her own, Tatsu sought the training of master Tadashi and became an expert in the ways of the samurai.
Forged in the 14th century by legendary swordsmith Murasama Sengo, the magical sword has more than a few notable abilities. Not only does Soultaker contain the soul of Tatsu’s deceased husband, the blade has the power to capture the numerous souls of those it kills, each of which has the capability of communicating with the sword’s current wielder. Additionally, some iterations of Soultaker even grant the user of the sword the ability to reincarnate the dead, sometimes against their will.
13. Katana is Actually a Hero
Named after the blade she wields, Tatsu took up the codename “Katana” and moved to the United States in order to fight nefarious forces. That’s right, Katana actually opposes crime and refuses to tolerate injustice. In other words, she’s a hero. You may be asking yourself why a superheroine would be fighting alongside the likes of Harley Quinn and the Joker; a good question that will likely be answered when the film hits theaters in a few weeks.
In the character’s countless appearances in the comics and in various television series, Katana has nearly always been seen as a hero, albeit one that works well outside the law, making her something of an antihero at times. That being said, this comic book character has generally been viewed in the past as one of DC’s more intriguing superheroines, and we’re not convinced that this film looks to alter that backstory. How exactly she’ll be used, and what her motivations will be in the upcoming Suicide Squad film remains to be seen, but based simply on the character’s aesthetic in promotional images and the movie’s various trailers, it doesn’t appear that Katana will be all that different from her comic book counterpart after all.
12. She Has Fought Alongside Batman
In a movie full of baddies from Batman lore, it’s easy to forget that Katana and the Caped Crusader actually fought side-by-side in various comic book runs. One fan-favorite comic series that stands out, in particular, is The Outsiders, or more formally known as Batman and The Outsiders. Formed by the Dark Knight himself, the Outsiders was initially a group of relative unknowns. In a time when The Justice League and the world’s greatest detective did not exactly see eye-to-eye, the Outsiders was formed in order to fight crime and bring the forces of evil to justice.
One of those aforementioned unknowns was, of course, Katana. As a member of the Outsiders, Katana garnered a following of readers and was even able to later spawn her own comic book run. Gaining acclaim, the Japanese martial artist found a home in various DC superhero teams over the years and went on to serve as a pretty successful character for the comic book publisher.
11. Katana Was A Member of the Birds of Prey
In addition to the character’s stint with the aforementioned vigilante group, the Outsiders, Katana served as one of many superheroines in the female-led group of crime fighter known as the Birds of Prey. More well-known members of the Birds of Prey include Barbara Gordon, Black Canary, Huntress, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman to name a few, and while the Japanese swordswoman is one of the group’s members, her admission came much later than the other heroines listed.
As part of the DC comic’s reboot entitled “The New 52,” and the Flashpoint story arc that changed continuity for a number of DC characters, Katana ended up taking over as the third member of the Birds of Prey alongside Black Canary. Unfortunately enough for Tatsu, however, the reboot did not alter much of the character’s backstory, leaving her husband deceased, still at the hands of the Yakuza.
A Birds of Prey film adaptation has reportedly been in the works for some time now. If Katana manages to survive her first mission with the Suicide Squad (and we’re betting that she will), don’t be surprised if she finds herself starring on a second team in the very near future.
10. She Was Also a Member of The Justice League
Not only was Katana a member of both the Batman-led Outsiders squad and the female-driven Birds of Prey, but the heroine managed to crack DC Comics’ most prestigious team of heroes, The Justice League. Tatsu’s stint with The Justice League of America – due again to the Flashpoint reset in the New 52 – may have been somewhat shortlived, but the character did, in fact, serve alongside Earth’s elite heroes. She even had some co-op adventures with the likes of Batman and the Green Arrow.
What is unclear at this moment, is whether or not Katana will make a jump from the Suicide Squad to The Justice League in the DC Cinematic Universe. If we had to speculate, we would venture to guess that adding the relative unknown to the Justice League films at this point in time would be a bit premature for Warner Bros. and company. With the slew of DC characters that fans still have yet to truly meet on the big screen, we feel as though Katana may have to wait to see her spot in the Justice League spotlight, even if that opportunity arises much farther down the line or perhaps not at all. She’s a better bet for a Birds of Prey film.
9. Numerous Television Appearances
Along with the character’s countless appearances in various DC comic book runs, Katana has managed to find herself in the world of television on more than one occasion. Seeing as how the superheroine made her debut in a 1980’s Batman comic run, it only makes sense that the character would first appear on a Batman animated television program. Before the heroine’s live-action debut, Katana served in a supporting role in both Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Beware The Batman.
Making the leap from cartoon to live-action, Tatsu saw her first non-animated iteration in CW’s Arrow. Guest appearing in two episodes of The CW hit, Katana was portrayed by Rila Fukushima. The Japanese fashion model and actress is still a relative unknown outside of her role as Tatsu, but the Tokyo native did additionally star in 20th Century Fox’s The Wolverine, along with a brief appearance in season 6 of the HBO phenomenon Game of Thrones.
8. Katana’s Big Screen Debut
While the character has made numerous appearances in various comic book runs and television series, Katana has yet to make her mark on the big screen. Well, Suicide Squad is about to change all of that. The David Ayer-directed comic book film will feature the young antihero, and we are still not quite sure exactly how events will play out for the Japanese-American crime fighter.
After years and years of superhero movies, it is fairly obvious to fans that the comic’s corresponding films are very loose adaptations for the most part. So, even with loads and loads of source material on which this character can potentially be based, it is possible that Tatsu could turn out to be a much different iteration of the hero than the version that was originally penned. In fact, given the character’s antihero nature, it might not be much of a stretch to make Katana a full-blown villain. That being said, it does not necessarily appear to be the case for the upcoming villain-centric Suicide Squad.
7. Karen Fukuhara’s First Feature Film
In addition to Suicide Squad being Katana’s big screen debut, the highly anticipated film will also serve as Karen Fukuhara’s first feature film. The Japanese-American actress has served on numerous television series back in Japan, most notably for the Disney Channel in her respective country, and yet, Fukuhara has yet to star in a feature-length Hollywood film. Well, that is all about to change.
As a star of one of summer 2016’s biggest films, relative newcomer Karen Fukuhara looks to take a huge step forward in terms of public awareness. With whitewashing becoming a growing issue in the world of Hollywood filmmaking, hopefully being a quality Japanese-American actress could assist the entertainer in serving as a great addition to the film industry’s roster of reliable minority talents. This is all assuming that Fukuhara performs admirably within the film, but nevertheless, those looking to add more diversity in front of the camera should universally be rooting for the actress to succeed.
6. Fukuhara Has a Strong Connection to the Character
Upon studying for her role as the strong-willed martial artist, Karen Fukuhara stated that coming from a Japanese background, she didn’t find it difficult to understand Tatsu as a person. Hopefully, adding multiple layers to a character with a truly rich backstory could serve to make Katana one of the film’s breakout personalities. Even with a cast of talented individuals, there is real potential for a quality performance from this seemingly spot-on casting choice.
Understanding the history and motivation of her character can only work to aid Fukuhara in her portrayal of the Samurai warrior. Also, not only does this speak to the potential of the performance, but this leads us to believe, or at least earnestly hope, that the characters within this film are very well written with easily understandable motivations. The franchise’s earlier films have suffered a bit due to a lack of sympathetic characters, and Suicide Squad will hopefully act as a righting of the ship for Warner Bros. and the DC Cinematic Universe.
5. Fukuhara Did Her Homework
An encouraging tidbit of information for any comic book movie fan is that the actor portraying a major character read the source material in order to prepare. Well, fans of the character and DC itself in the comics will be happy to know that Fukuhara did, in fact, read various runs of the Katana’s comics, as well as Birds of Prey.
While it is true that the actress did take a peruse through the pages of DC Comics in order to get a better sense of her character, Fukuhara has stated that she does have a good sense of Tatsu’s motivations. Both being Japanese-American women, the young actress feels as though they share common ground, and the talented entertainer appears to understand the core concepts of the female warrior. While Katana does appear to be a somewhat difficult character to relate to, it is certainly encouraging to hear that Fukuhara has put in the effort and done her homework in preparation for her starring role in the Hollywood blockbuster.
4. An In-Depth Audition
Some actors just have to perform a brief audition to get their respective role, and for some big names, auditions are more of a formality than anything else. For Karen Fukuhara, her audition to play the fierce warrior Katana was definitely somewhat more intense than the average script reading.
In addition to the monologue that the actress was requested to perform, Fukuhara was asked to demonstrate both her martial arts skills as well as her swordsmanship. We suppose that it is safe to assume she nailed her audition, seeing as how she got the part, but it is interesting to note that the casting director found it important for the actress to be well-versed in martial arts and sword fighting skills. It is encouraging to hear that Fukuhara was adept enough to pass the audition phase, and hopefully, this will lead to some high quality action sequences, perhaps with the use of fewer stunt doubles throughout the film.
3. Her Costume Holds Meaning
Leave it to DC and Warner Bros. to create some truly imaginative costumes. Feelings concerning the studios franchise catalyst Man of Steel aside, it should be noted that the film did feature an uber-detailed Superman costume. One glance at the film’s special features would illuminate to fans the immense amount of creativity and craftsmanship that went into the construction of Superman’s suit.
Much like the costume of prior heroes within the DCEU, Katana is sporting a fairly detailed suit herself. Various symbols on the jacket of the character may look as though they fit the part (which they certainly do), but even more than simple aesthetics, the meaning behind the symbols are what truly set this suit apart. The calligraphy for “A Thousand Years,” “Soultaker,” and “For Him, I Weep” can all be found on Katana’s outfit. As easy as it would have been to add random oriental characters that carry absolutely no meaning, the costume designers decided to truly go the extra mile and add some depth to this unique character.
2. She’ll be loyal to Rick Flag
It is becoming apparent that not everyone in the Suicide Squad is not exactly a full-on villain. This may be true for Katana, and equally, this sentiment may hold true for Rick Flag. As more of a babysitter for this group of outlaws, Flag is charged with keeping the baddies at bay and following orders. The only thing standing between the character and a sure death perhaps is Katana.
It has been confirmed by Fukuhara herself that Rick Flag and Katana have an intertwining backstory linking the two characters. This would make a lot of sense. as it would seem that not all of these characters are, in fact, entirely evil villains. With the powers at be, it is hard to see a couple of average soldiers keeping the lid on this delicate operation, but having a few superpowered allies on hand would certainly make sense. Also, we believe that this dynamic between the mega baddies and potentially, the handful of hired handlers, could work to make for some tense and equally humorous moments throughout the film.
1. She may be Immortal
One additional aspect of the aforementioned Soultaker blade is that it is rumored to grant its wielder immortality. With a number of characters rumored to die within this film, it would certainly be interesting to find that Katana is actually immortal. Not only does this make the character that much more of a threat, but it would suggest that audiences may see more of Katana in the future after all.
As previously stated, the Japanese-American heroine has been a part of numerous super teams throughout the character’s run in various comics and television series, so it would not be surprising in the slightest to see Katana make her presence felt in the DC Cinematic Universe. Tatsu might not be a prime candidate to receive her own standalone movie, but the female antihero is certainly an interesting character that deserves to be explored on the big screen. We are excited to see Katana get her shot in Suicide Squad, and we certainly hope to see more of her in the future.
Did we miss out on any of your favorite Katana factoids? Do you think she’ll survive her first adventure with Task Force X, and if so, where would you like to see her pop up in the DCEU? Let us know in the comments.
Suicide Squad will arrive in theaters August 5, 2016.