[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Suicide Squad]
With every major Hollywood studio looking to build a shared superhero universe of their own (whether they're in tights or not), the question of exactly why it's always the heroes who get the glory was going to come up eventually. And thankfully, DC Films and David Ayer have offered up one such example with the Suicide Squad. The film hasn't fared well with early critics, which means it's almost guaranteed to perform better among fans of the team, and most importantly, the source material.
And where a comic book movie staying true to the source material goes, a whole host of easter eggs, inside jokes, comic panels brought to life and references to DC's history are guaranteed to follow. We've already broken down the biggest spoilers guaranteed to leave fans stunned, but once you've recuperated, you won't want to overlook some of the awesome behind the scenes details and nods to the fans contained in the film's running time.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy this look at Suicide Squad: Every Easter Egg & Secret Detail.
23 Deadshot Introduction Card
It was a no-brainer that a version of Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot would be gracing any big screen version of the Squad, since he's proven to be a mainstay if not a MUST in the comic books and TV adaptations. When audiences get their first introduction to Deadshot, offered as the first name on Amanda Waller's list of "the worst of the worst," David Ayer and the effects team pull out a comic book reference even fans might be a little too excited to fully catch.
Waller gives an introduction to his skills, at which point the movie rolls out a trippy title card sequence, listing Floyd's name, skills, and a first look at him in full costume - helmet included. Audiences may be too busy taking in Will Smith's full Deadshot armor to notice the hand extended towards the camera as bullets rain all around - perfectly recreating the iconic image of the assassin enjoying the same downpour on the cover of "Secret Six" #15 (2010), by artist Daniel LuVisi.
22 Rick Flag Redux
It just wouldn't be a DC Comics movie without some nods to the universe's most successful TV series of the modern era - Smallville. After Man of Steel called upon multiple alums of the TV show, David Ayer has done the same, placing actor Ted Whittall opposite Amanda Waller in the opening scene. He actually seems to be an ally to the cruel manipulator, which implies his own time in the role of Rick Flag didn't scare him away (or scared him into line, we suppose).
Whittall will be familiar to Smallville fans for that same reason, having played the leader of the Suicide Squad in Season 10 of the show, abducting Oliver Queen (among other dastardly acts). It's hard to say if the cameo was completely intentional, or a byproduct of the film's Canadian production, but it's a fun nod for fans either way.
21 Harley Quinn Helped Kill Robin
Waller's introduction to the cast of the film, offered to her colleagues along with the audience next heads to the murderous Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Her own title card is a bit more kinetic, and the welcome to the DCEU's version of Arkham Asylum may have viewers' eyes glued to the top half of the screen, but keep your eyes on the bottom just a moment before Arkham, and you'll catch the most important bulletpoint (no pun intended) in her entire criminal career.
The dossier-brought-to-life reveals that Harley was "an accomplice to the murder of Robin," Batman's sidekick, whose damaged and defaced armor now stands in Bruce Wayne's subterranean Batcave. It's a wrinkle on the comic book version of the story, where Joker killed Jason Todd, the second Robin, all by himself. But Harley hadn't actually been created at that point, and since the film states that she was only an accomplice, fans shouldn't worry about the DCEU version of events being changed (yet, anyway).
20 Alex Ross' Harley & Joker
The introduction to Harley and Joker steps into the surreal a few different time, but the image of Joker and Harley dancing arm in arm (described by Waller as "King and Queen of Gotham") is a nod to the comics so faithful, it's usually found in a fan film over a live-action adaptation. The shot shows both characters dressed to the nines, with Jared Leto dressed in black tails, a white waistcoat, and bowtie, with Margot Robbie wearing a recreation of Harley's famous red and black Jester costume - hat included.
The shot may cast some doubt on those who thought the suit and hat would work perfectly in action, since it's used to success here as part of a literal throwback. Either way, it's a testament to the crew's commitment to the DC Comics history to painstakingly bring artist Alex Ross' famous comic book cover to life - down to Harley's eye makeup, in fact.
19 Derek Tolliver
While Ted Whittall plays a military figure whose name and rank are displayed clearly on his jacket, his companion in the Waller scene is never named. Don't worry though, since the character played by actor David Harbour (End of Watch) comes with a nameplate in front of him when Waller gets to her sales pitch (and Enchantress demonstration). The name reveals is 'Tolliver' - and it's one that longtime fans of the original "Suicide Squad" comic series depicting Waller's team of villains will be all too familiar with.
That’s short for Derek Tolliver, a character pulled directly from John Ostrander’s run of “Suicide Squad” (upon which the film is based). In the comics, Tolliver was Waller and Task Force X’s go-between, operating between the covert group and the National Security Council. He actually makes a threatening appearance in the issue upon which the film is based, too, but thankfully Ayer avoids the bitter bickering between he and Waller, instead framing him as a supporter of the overall mission.
18 What If Superman Tore Off The White House Roof?
Another little nod that should probably be caught and appreciated by younger audiences is the hypothetical situation that Tolliver offers to start winning people over to Waller's Task Force EX initiative. With Superman no longer a concern at this point in the timeline, Tolliver asks what would have happened if he had just decided to tear the White House roof off and grab the President of the United States. Who would have stopped him? Or, more worryingly, what if the next Superman decides to?
It's a valid situation for the war that Waller promises is coming, but it's also a scene that DC fans have basically already watched happen. The film was Superman II, when Lex Luthor forms an alliance with General Zod and his two Kryptonian lieutenants... then tears the roof off of the White House, and Lex is able to simply sit down in the chair belonging to the country's most powerful figure. Superman took some heat for "rescuing kittens from trees" in Batman V Superman (which he really did do in the first film), so we think the White House can take it.
17 Enchantress' New Style
When actress Cara Delevingne was reported to be playing June Moon a.k.a. Enchantress in the film, comic book and movie fans around the world took to the Internet to figure out just what to expect from the character - with misleading results. The origin story was basically the same - young woman stumbles onto supernatural entity, has it occupy her body - but the visual design of the character was simply a bright green watch costume - hat included. The film's version was... different.
That's because David Ayer didn't take his inspiration from the first explanation for June's powers, but seems to have taken it from the comic book story that revealed her to be possessed by the Succubus - an ancient demonic creature of lust and desire. In it, readers are given a glimpse of what the Succubus/Enchantress' brother does to a female form he has possesed, turning a human woman into a scantily clad temptress (above). Compare it to Squad's design, and it looks like the starting point... before heaps of mud, magic, and the occult were added on top of it.
16 Witch Grass
An easter egg doesn't need to call attention to itself to be clever, and in this case, is a detail that only a small number of moviegoers might actually catch (allowing them to make complete sense of a certain mysterious, unexplained scene). When Enchantress and Rick Flag are given their own introductions as part of Waller's rundown, viewers get to see the moment that Flag (Joel Kinnaman) first discovered June - and likely began the path to falling completely in love with her. It's not exactly out of a rom-com, though, since he finds her in serious distress, in a tub filled with grass, beneath a pentagram.
The pentagram has too many uses and meaning to discern, but the grass is another thing entirely. The plant matter is actually panicum capillare - known colloquially as witchgrass. The plant has been used to ward off evil magic, or in some cases, can be used to entice new loves (both of which would actually apply to the scene, since June is clearly trying to keep Enchantress at bay).
15 Jonny Frost
After being rumored for the role of Deathstroke the Terminator (at the same time actor Ike Barinholtz was claimed to be Hugo Strange), it turned out to be a much less pivotal role (and a far less glorious one) for actor Jim Parrack (Fury). Instead of a trained assassin out to kill the Squad, Parrack plays reliable muscle as Jonny Frost, Joker's henchman/driver/gunner. The "Mr. Frost" name on his military uniform's sleeve when firing from the stolen helicopter confirms the role - which should be known to fans of... alternate takes on the clown prince of crime.
The character of Jonny Frost is actually the narrator of Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo's "Joker" graphic novel, finding himself recruited as the villain's new right hand man (with predictable results). We learned during out visit to the set that the novel was used for inspiration in a few different ways for the film, but Frost's inclusion in the cast is the most obvious.
14 Baby Jokers?
Less a nod to the comics here, and more of a tiny detail that many viewers might not notice. When Joker begins to concoct his plan for rescuing Harley from the Squad's clutches, he first prepares for the act by surrounding himself with every manner of weapon, vice, or luxury he seems to have in his possession. We know that the massive circle of knives, guns, alcohol and possessions was inspired by Pink Floyd's The Wall, but keep your eye trained on the top right corner of the screen as the camera spins upward.
You'll notice two onesies, one blue, one pink, laid out carefully. The later hallucination of Harley's, in which she and Joker are living a normal life with two small children could be viewed by some as a sign of what she once hoped for, but would be impossible with Joker. But the inclusion of baby clothes on his part suggests they might both be thinking of the future (either way, it's a powerful image on its own).
13 The Incubus
Viewers are rushed into the main villain storyline without needing to know much of the backstory or mythology at work. The Enchantress has a brother, frees him, and he starts destroying a city in preparation for them to take back the world. While the character is never called by name, the title card for Enchantress a.k.a. June Moon confirms that her only relation is 'The Incubus,' her brother, contained in one of the same relics that Enchantress escaped from.
We already went into depth in a previous article about the comic book story and mythology being called upon, but for those looking for the backstory themselves, check out "Suicide Squad" #14-15 (1988) to see how their master plan was even weirder in the original story.
12 Midway City
The events of the film are scattered across the DC Universe, from Gotham City to Lousiana, but the mission itself requires the team to head into Midway City, selected by Enchantress as the location perfect for her newly-returned brother to build his strength, and being their plan for world destruction. The city doesn't carry the same name recognition as the other cities popularized in DC films and TV, but Midway has its place in history all the same.
Based on Chicago, Illinois (as you can tell from the look of the city in the film), Midway is traditionally located in Michigan (since Chicago is also a city in the DCU). Over the years its been used as the backdrop for some of the original "Hawkman" comics, and has also acted as the home base of Dc's "Doom Patrol."
11 Australia Post
This isn't a pivotal plot point, or even a real insight into the source material or character - just a joke so outrageous, it's hard to overlook. While the villains like Deadshot and Harley Quinn are transported to the staging area outside of Midway's disaster areas to get their gear and briefing, the rabid Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) makes his first appearance on the actual team in a different fashion. The fact that he emerges from his traveling sack and immediately takes a swing at the nearest soldier may distract viewers from his own method of transport.
Boomerang arrives in what appears to be an Australia Post mailbag. We know that The Flash apprehended him in the continental United States (most likely Central City), so we assume the guards entrusted with his travel just have incredibly strong (and resourceful) senses of humor.
10 Harley's Mallet
Although it’s a baseball bat that Harley Quinn carries for most of the movie, the filmmakers did find one way to give her source material and fans a solid nod towards her more... outlandish arsenal. The giant wooden mallet Harley pulls from her belongings when voicing her feeling that a lot of people are about to die looks to be just as well used (and effective) as the version in her animated appearances or comic books (even if it's not the right tool for this job).
The baseball bat she does end up using in action is also a callout to the version of the character partly re-imagined in the Batman: Arkham video games, in which Harley also relies on bats to take on... Bats.
9 I Am The Light, The Way
It's never actually touched upon in the movie, but Floyd Lawton wears the words “The Light” and “The Way” around his throat; presumably referring to the line of scripture found in John 14:6:
"Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the light; no one comes to the Father but through Me." ("light” and “life” appear in different translations).
The scripture is also carried onto the barrel of his go-to rifle. A man of faith who kills people for a living may seem like a contradiction, and Floyd never gives an insight into his own faith. But in a film populated with hardened criminals, thugs, and depraved killers, implying that Deadshot is a man of morals is just one way the team behind the camera tried to add depth to a role many would see as straightforward. On the other hand, it could be a twisted inversion of the sentiment, claiming that he is the only one sending people to meet their maker.
8 Katana's Secret Messages
Katana is clearly on a mission of her own when she agrees to help protect Rick Flag from the Squad members and their opponents, and the mythology and story details surrounding her are pulled straight from the comics. Deceased husband, the Soultaker sword, and basically her entire costume are lifted off the page, but the costume department also went into great detail. literally imprinting the words of that story into her clothing and weaponry.
Drawing from the real life cultures of the Bōsōzoku kids (Japanese youth culture blending Yakuza, samurai heraldry, and more) and giving Katana a senninbari band that will fly over the heads of most fans is one thing. But the calligraphy on her clothes speaking of her lost love, and a promise that "for him I wait a thousand years" are the kind of small details fans won't be able to catch on a first viewing.
7 Boomerang Gets Slipknot Killed
The role of Slipknot (Adam Beach) on the team may have been short-lived, but fans keeping track of which characters were seen in the marketing could probably guess that somebody was going to show a neckbomb being used - and it would almost certainly be Slipknot. But the manner in which he was taken out is no coincidence, since nearly every incarnation of the Suicide Squad begins with Boomerang showing he's the most villainous of the bunch, sacrificing (if not outright killing) a member of the team for no good reason at all.
In fact, when Slipknot first joined the squad in Issue #10 (1988), Boomerang took th opportunity to tell him that the bomb plan was probably just a ruse, and that he'd be making a break for it at the first chance he got. Slipknot followed suit, and lost an arm because of it (the bombs were bracelets at that point). In the film version, the plotline plays out to the same tune, with more final results.
6 A Touch of Latin
The moment when Harley Quinn smashes a store window to pick out a designer handbag was used for a final laugh in the film's early trailers, but the shot actually speaks to the larger themes of the film.The store display is made up of mannequins painted in white, scrawled in black to match the backdrop. But the words in Latin aren't random: with the phrase “si vis pacem para bellum" repeated over and over. Translated, the phrase means “if you want peace, prepare for war.”
Considering that it's Amanda Waller's belief in that same idea - that a war of methumans is coming, and we need to prepare for it - we have to tip our hat to the director and set decorators.
5 John F. Ostrander Federal Building
As the Squad makes their way through Midway City in search of their "high value target," they eventually come to find her in the John F. Ostrander Federal Building. It's a playful nod for those who know the comics, since it was Ostrander who reinvented the Squad into their current premise and shape in 1987. He gets his name displayed in bright, broad letters on screen, even if he's not the only one who helped turn a WWII-era squadron into an unlikely band of villains doing good.
It's not the only easter egg contained in the sequence either, but it is the only one fans will be able to catch. According to set photos (and our up close looks while visiting) each of the offices surrounding the fight scene are shown to belong to characters from the DC publisher and fictional universe, with 'S. Grundy' our favorite exmaple.
4 ACE Chemicals
When Harley takes a lengthy glance down a staircase, the audience is pulled back into her own origin story, when she once stood just as high above a chemical vat, ready to undergo the same toxic rebirth that had turned the Joker into his pale-skinned self. She eventually takes the dive herself, and the camera follows her downward giving a split-second glance at the worn out, barely visible lettering on the side of the vat. But it's a name that every Batman fan knows all too well: ACE Chemicals.
In the comics, it's the famous company whose chemicals caused Joker's poisoning (a story told in Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke"). But in the DCEU, the famed location already made its debut in a background shot of Batman V Superman's Ultimate Edition. Still no insight into what the chemicals were, but they clearly had the desired outcome.
3 Harley's New 52 Origin
The similarities between the creation of Harley in the film and the story told in the New 52 version of events prove that the crew was trying to give fans even more service. In the New 52 origin, Harley was slowly but surely manipulated by Joker until the two reached the breaking point. As Harley realized that her life was confining her, and Joker's love and violent, rebellious tendencies offered power she had never known, he took her to ACE in honor of her "birthday" - before dropping her into the chemicals, completing the procedure.
In the film, Ayer's vision obviously has ambitions of its own. In this case, it's still Harley who decides to become her new self - and Joker seems unable to leave her behind. And as she emerges from the chemicals with clothing falling to pieces around her, the nod to the comics is made perfectly clear.
2 Boomerang... Boomerangs
Not as much a hidden secret or comic book reference here either, just a clever story moment that some audience members may have missed (and should be allowed to give the moment the laugh it deserves). It's in keeping with Boomerang's character to talk down his colleagues, promise to harm them, escape, get revenge, etc., but when the chips are down, he's always aware that his solution is finding a way out, not just away with Waller hot on his heels.
In the film, Courtney's Boomerang reacts just as superficially when Rick Flag smashes the detonator to their explosives, bolting out of the bar and off to who knows where. But when the team assembles, he shows that no matter how fast he may leave, he comes right back. That's right: Boomerang boomerangs.
1 Harley's Reading Material
When the members of the Squad are forced to return to their cells, it's revealed that they each did get their one request (except Boomerang). Deadshot gets to see his daughter, Killer Croc gets his BET and TV, and Harley got her espresso machine. But for those curious to know what she's spending her days reading - with clothes, and a bed now returned to her cell - we've got you covered. The book is "Between The Sheets" by Molly O'Keefe, an entry in the author's "Boys of Bishop" romance novels.
We can't say exactly why this book made its way into the shot, but the novel's official description promises a story in which "a bad boy rides into town on his motorcycle—and teaches the girl next door to lose control when it comes to desire." Shockingly, those words and motivations actually do apply to Harley and the Joker, so we can only hope she's considering writing a novel of her own.
NEXT: Suicide Squad Review
Suicide Squad runs 123 minutes and is Rated PG - 13 for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language. Now playing in IMAX, 3D, and regular 2D theaters.
Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Suicide Squad Spoilers discussion.
For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check back soon for our Suicide Squad episode of the Total Geekall podcast.