The DC Cinematic Universe got a little bit bigger and a whole lot crazier with last week's release of Suicide Squad. The third film in DC's attempt to storm the gates of Marvel was met with brutal reviews (currently 26% on RottenTomatoes) but record-breaking box office, having taken in $161 million domestically as of this writing. While even the fans of the film seem to agree it's a messy project that has the fingerprints of conflicting visions all over it, general audiences seem to have come away with a better impression than the critics (the RT audience score is currently 71%).
You can read our review of Suicide Squad to get our impressions, but there's no question this is a flick that's going to be a topic of discussion among fans for a long time to come, and we here at ScreenRant are no exception. If nothing else, Suicide Squad gets to play with a ton of characters who have only rarely been explored in live-action, if at all, including most notably Harley Quinn. But how well did Suicide Squad use all these familiar -- and less familiar -- faces?
In setting out to rank Suicide Squad's characters by order of awesomeness, we had a few questions we asked ourselves. We weren't as worried about fidelity to their comic-book counterparts, because that's a subject for a whole other article. Rather, we asked whether the movie used the characters to their full potential. Are they interesting or memorable, or are they an utter waste of screen time? If the messy script lets them down, is the character saved by a solid performance? Do they leave you wanting more or wishing for a refund? Here's our ranking of every Suicide Squad character, from least to most awesome.
Alas, poor Slipknot, we barely knew you. But let’s be honest, is anybody terribly upset that this guy wasn’t around long? Aside from the fact that his skull-popping demise could be seen coming a mile away -- he didn’t even get the courtesy of an intro sequence like the rest of the Squad -- his powers, as described in the film, are even lamer than Crazy Quilt. Slipknot...climbs things? But, like, really well? Maybe the Squad could have gotten to top of that skyscraper sooner if Slipknot was still around, but by that point the rest of the team had already forgotten he was even a thing.
How lame is Slipknot? The team had a perfect chance to toast to his memory during the bar sequence...and nobody even remembered that he'd died like 45 minutes earlier. That’s even more embarrassing than having other villains ask, “What, like the band?” every time you introduce yourself. And as if he wasn’t already terrible enough, rumors also suggest there’s a deleted scene that reveals Slipknot as a serial rapist. They should have blown his head off before he even appeared on screen.
Were it not for the sheer indignity that is Slipknot, Incubus would earn the last slot on this list without a moment’s hesitation. Incubus is that guy you keep running into at the supermarket but you never bother to remember his name, because who cares? Most of you probably didn’t even know Enchantress’ big glowing brother even had a name until just now, and you’ll have forgotten it again by the end of the list. And that’s as it should be, because this guy is awful.
Incubus is a walking plot contrivance. He’s the anthropomorphised equivalent of that cliched beam of light shooting into the sky that the Squad has to shut down. If Incubus entered in an Incubus lookalike contest, he would lose, because the judges would have forgotten he was a contestant by the time they got around to voting. The only useful thing Incubus does in this movie is give Diablo an excuse for that badass fiery beatdown. But he’s still not as embarrassing as Slipknot.
13 Killer Croc
At least Slipknot and Incubus were obscure enough characters from the comics that there were no real expectations for them to be awesome. Killer Croc, however, has been a steady member of Batman’s vaunted rogue’s gallery for decades, even if only as a second or third tier member. And granted, he’s a hard character to use well, because he’s basically just a big brutish lizard dude. But he’s pretty much utterly wasted here. There’s no sense of who he is other than the info in Waller’s dossier and a his expressed fondness for BET. And honestly, that last part is doubly frustrating because his choice of post-world-saving reward could have provided some small insight into the character, but instead they just went for a lazy punchline.
What was the point of having Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, a talented actor whose resume includes turns on Lost and HBO’s Oz, under all those scales? It could literally have been anybody, especially since you couldn’t understand his garbled dialogue most of time. If David Ayer was going to waste Croc this frivolously, he could have given him a memorable death like Diablo.
Speaking of wasted potential, Katana wasn’t even worth however much Waller paid for her plane ride over from Japan. She’s a lethal sword-slinger whose blade eats the souls of her enemies...and also contains the soul of her murdered husband. There’s a lot to work with there, but for the most part Katana could easily have been replaced with a wheeled cardboard cutout of Katana bungied to Rick Flag’s ammo belt. How in the world do you include Katana in your movie but then never give her a chance to really cut loose with some jaw-dropping sword choreography? Deadshot got his moment to shine during the alley fight against the eyeball monsters. All Katana needed was a bladed equivalent of that, and even if that’s all she got, it would at least have somewhat justified her presence here.
Part of the problem is that there’s a lot to explain about her character concept to audiences who have probably never heard of her (unless they watch Arrow), so we wind up getting it inelegantly delivered in a series of infodumps. For a character known for her grace and dexterity, Suicide Squad’s handling of Katana is clumsy as hell.
11 Rick Flag
Rick Flag is...fine. He’s fine, really. He’s as exciting as his “rejected G.I. Joe character” moniker would suggest. Rick Flag gets the job done without any fancy theatrics, he doesn’t really care if he gets any credit for it, and he’d frankly rather have no part in this whole mess. Still, he gets some good lines, and actor Joel Kinnaman elevates what could otherwise have been a totally generic soldierboy role. He also gets to kill Slipknot, which automatically makes him okay in our book.
His romance with June Moone/Enchantress is more arbitrary than compelling, but the screenwriters do at least earn points for not having him “save Enchantress with his love” or whatever. There were rumors early on that Flag would betray the Squad because of his involvement with Enchantress, and that might have given Kinnaman some more interesting nuances to play with, but it’s also the sort of thing we’ve seen a few too many times before. And given that Suicide Squad already feels like a Frankenstein’s monster made from at least two different movies, that might well have been one plot twist too many.
Unlike most of the characters up to this point, Suicide Squad at least doesn’t totally waste Enchantress. Her whole dual identity thing had the potential to be a lot more interesting if she hadn’t transitioned into generic mustache-twirling villainy at the end of the first act, but at least actress Cara Delevingne gets to play up some moments of terror and helplessness as she is forced to give herself over to the parasitical spirit inside her. It also helps that Enchantress is creepy as hell, at least until she gets all powered up and looking like a Stargate villain.
Enchantress is damn near perfectly used during the whole briefing sequence, beginning with that simple but incredibly unsettling moment where her dark hand appears from beneath June Moone’s, then flips the hand over and completes her transformation. She gets to unnerve a room full of Pentagon brass, swipe Iranian weapons documents in less time than it took to type that phrase, and generally shows promise to be a more interesting antagonist than she eventually becomes. It makes you wish they’d stuck with the original freaky “mud-smeared feral serial killer” design and hadn’t anchored her to a boilerplate “destroy the world with the glowing MacGuffin” plotline.
On the one hand, Jai Courtney’s performance as Boomerang is one of the most entertaining things in Suicide Squad when it’s working. He was a standout in the trailers thanks to his sneaking a beer in the midst of a "Bohemian Rhapsody"-fueled action sequence, and he gets some great funny moments in the finished film. His mocking Diablo with a Zippo will never not make us laugh, and his bailing on the Squad before Rick Flag even finishes his “You’re free to go” speech was perfect. (Especially since he returns shortly thereafter, just like his namesake.)
Unfortunately, the comic relief is pretty much all Boomerang brings to the table. Like Katana, he never gets a spotlight moment to show off just how proficient he is with his signature weapon. Granted, it’s hard to stand out when the team is doing nothing but punching cookie-cutter monsters, but it seems like Ayer missed the chance to give Boomerang at least one “hell yeah!” action moment to prove he’s not just a joke. (Think how Yondo took down a dozen bad guys with his flying arrow in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy.) Hopefully Boomerang will return in a future Flash movie...and be better used.
8 The Flash
One of Squad’s best surprises was that we got to see a brief appearance by Boomerang’s arch enemy The Flash, with the Scarlet Speedster interrupting the Aussie’s jewel heist and sending him en route to Belle Reve Penitentiary. It’s very much just a cameo -- we don’t even get to see Flash deliver Boomerang a super-speed beatdown -- but it was a fun little moment of fan service, especially since Boomerang’s flashback sequence could have easily seen him taken down by regular cops or his own questionable competence. It’s also the best look yet we’ve gotten at Ezra Miller in his superhero get-up on the big screen, in a sequence directed by Batman v Superman helmer Zack Snyder.
Along with the surprisingly good Justice League and Wonder Woman Comic-Con trailers, Flash’s Suicide Squad appearance is a reminder that the future of the DC Cinematic Universe may well be brighter than its troubled past.
Right now you’re probably saying, “Who is Griggs, and how the hell is he more awesome than The Flash?” Well, if you’ve seen the movie, you definitely remember Griggs, even if you never knew that was his name. He’s the cocky, dickish prison guard tasked with keeping the Belle Reve inmates in line, and he’s got some of the funniest moments in the entire film. Played by actor Ike Barinholtz, Griggs is that guy you hated in high school, drawn like a moth to the bright glow of authority he can use and abuse to puff up his ego. Whether he’s taking selfies while force-feeding Harley or giving The Joker his best scene purely through his reaction to realizing he’s in the room with The Joker, Griggs shines as one of the few memorable characters not wearing a costume.
Griggs also serves as the linchpin of the whole Joker/Harley plot in the second and third act, and he gets one of the best lines of the movie: “If he kills me, shoot him and then delete my browser history.”
6 The Joker
The marketing may have overplayed The Joker’s presumed screen time in Suicide Squad, but a new incarnation of the Clown Prince of Crime is always exciting, even if he’s mainly just here to complicate the back half of the plot. Actor Jared Leto was in the unenviable position of following up one of the greatest Joker performances of all time in the form of Heath Ledger and The Dark Knight, so it’s probably wise that Leto doesn’t try to trump Ledger’s Oscar-winning madness. Instead, his Joker is more of a thug with a taste for the theatrical. But what Leto really needed here is his “Wanna see a magic trick?” moment, a single act that tells you everything you need to know about this Joker. He never really gets it.
Thankfully, Leto’s Joker is menacing and creepy, particularly when he makes unsettling use of the smile tattoo on his hand -- a moment that almost justifies his overbusy clown-pimp redesign. And while he’s definitely underused here, it’s understandable given how many characters Squad has to service (unless you're this guy). Leto’s performance at least establishes his take on the character in a way that suggests he could hit the ground running in, say, a future standalone Batman movie.
5 Batman/Bruce Wayne
The cameo we all knew was coming, Batman doesn’t have a ton to do in Suicide Squad, but Ben Affleck makes good use of it. His flashiest scene involves taking down Deadshot, using the assassin’s weakness -- his daughter -- against him to ensure the sharpshooter is taken into custody without a fight or a single civilian casualty. He also gets to climb on top of The Joker’s fancy purple sports car and ruin date night for Harley and Mr. J (at the end of which, The Joker leaves Harley for dead at the bottom of a river, which tells you everything you need to know about their relationship dynamic).
However, Batman is never more awesome in Suicide Squad than during the mid-credits sequence, when he sits across from Amanda Waller and successfully blackmails one of the most dangerous people in the DC Universe who isn’t from the planet Krypton. Knowing that Bruce is somebody Waller would come to for help speaks volumes about her opinion of him, whether she knows of his dual identity or not (she totally does). Not only does Bruce get the metahuman files he needs to start constructing a certain justice-oriented league, he also adds insult to injury by warning Waller to shut down Task Force X...or he and his “friends” will shut it down for her.
4 El Diablo
Jay Hernandez’s performance as El Diablo is one of the best surprises of Suicide Squad. His story isn’t particularly original -- a superpowered crook with a bad temper, whose inability to keep that temper in check resulted in the deaths of his wife and children. When we meet him, he’s practically a pacifist, refusing to use his powers. That reluctance also means he gets a true marquee moment when he finally cuts loose after Deadshot’s goading, singlehandedly torching several floors’ worth of bad guys in a display that would do Apocalypse Now's Lt. Col. Kilgore proud.
Like Deadshot, El Diablo is a man with a lot of baggage, trying to figure out who he is in light of all the bad things he’s done, and you can’t help but want to root for the guy to find some sort of redemption...which he does, thanks to a noble sacrifice and one of the more badass fight sequences in the film. When he lights up into a fiery doppelganger of Incubus and beats the crap out of that supernatural git, it’s one of the most satisfying moments Suicide Squad has to offer. Here’s hoping Diablo cocooned himself in flames and somehow survived that explosion so he can stage a surprise return in the sequel.
Speaking of Deadshot, Will Smith would easily be the best-realized member of the Squad were it not for Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn -- which also has the weight of several decades’ worth of fan anticipation (fanticipation?) buoying it. He gets some of the movie’s best lines, he’s the highlight of the standout action sequence (the alley fight he basically finishes himself while everybody else takes a breather), and he even gets the honor of being taken down by Batman. And you get the feeling he would have put up a hell of a fight if the Bat hadn’t surprised him when he knew he’d be vulnerable.
His sympathetic relationship with his daughter is both cliched and predictably played out, but Smith is enough of a pro to still give the subplot more weight than it probably deserves. Sure, an easier way to convince your daughter you’re not a piece of garbage might be to maybe not murder hundreds of people as a hit man, but saving the world works too. Here’s hoping Deadshot gets the chance to take aim at some of DC’s big shot heroes in a future film. He’s got a score to settle with Batman, after all.
2 Amanda Waller
Amanda Waller is Nick Fury without the eyepatch or guiding moral principles. We’ve seen several incarnations of Waller in various DC properties over the years -- Arrow’s version of Waller formed her own Task Force X a few seasons back -- but Viola Davis handily establishes herself as the definitive iteration of DC’s expert puppetmaster. A world blooming with metahuman threats is a dangerous place, and The Wall may be the only person with the vision to recognize that and the willingness to do whatever it takes to protect against it.
We get to see Waller put up a worthy fight after her chopper crashes and she’s swarmed by Enchantress’ eyeball monsters, but her defining moment comes a few scenes earlier, when Flag and the Squad realize she’s the “VIP” they’ve been dispatched to rescue. As she’s leaving, she calmly draws a firearm and executes all the other government agents who’d been working with her. When Flag calls her on it, she explains that they didn’t have clearance to know what they already knew. In Amanda Waller’s world, that’s as clear cut as it gets. They simply had to die.
1 Harley Quinn
DC is already rumored to be developing a spinoff film focusing on Harley Quinn and other fan-favorite female characters. That’s definitely a good thing, because Margot Robbie’s performance as the twisted, abused “love” of Joker’s life ensures that fans will want to see lots more of Ms. Quinn. Much of that has to do with Robbie’s delightful performance, which makes the most of every moment and shines in spite of an often weak script.
She’s funny as hell, but also utterly bonkers and terrifying. She’s sexy, but in a way that simultaneously seems like she’s in control of it and completely oblivious to it. Robbie also manages to sell the tragedy of Harley in a way that comes down almost entirely to the subtleties of her performance. A Harley who isn’t fundamentally broken behind the eyes would be missing a crucial element of the character, and Robbie definitely sells that in between all the silliness and baseball bat-swinging.
Hopefully we’ll delve deeper into her relationship with The Joker, whether in a longer Blu-Ray cut of Suicide Squad or in future films, but either way, Robbie’s Harley is now one of the brightest stars in the young DC Cinematic Universe, so if there’s any justice in this world, we’ll be seeing plenty of her in years to come.
Who was your favorite member of Task Force X? Disagree with our rankings? Sound off in the comments.
Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters. Wonder Woman arrives on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 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. The Flash and Batman solo movie are currently without release dates.
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