NOTE: The Following Post Contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Suicide Squad.
The idea of turning the comic book movie formula on its head, and telling a story where the bad guys are the ones doing the heroics is an easy sell. And with DC Comics favorites like Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang filling out the roster, Suicide Squad looked to try something completely different within the larger context of the DCEU. Critics have let the world know what they thought of the attempt, and fans will soon be getting their turn. But there's one thing all will agree on: the actual villain facing off against these... villains is more than a little strange.
We don't mean "strange" as in extraordinary or supernatural - she is both of those things - but strange in the sense that the backstory, overall goal, and methods used in the master plan are hastily sketched out, or left completely off-screen (there's two villains of the piece, if you want to be specific). We've already broken down the film's post-credits scene, identified some of the biggest spoilers, and detailed various easter eggs that David Ayer managed to slip in.
Now, to guarantee audiences know exactly what comic book stories were being drawn upon for Suicide Squad's big bads, the real mythology and religion behind them, and what doors have been opened for the future of the DCEU, we're breaking down the movie's real villains - Amanda Waller exempted - who they are, and where they come from.
According to recent rumors, there was a plan to begin the entire film following the young woman referred to as "archaeologist Dr. June Moone," heading into an unknown cave in an unknown jungle... and finding something truly unknown. As the finished film has it, June Moone is simply introduced as one of the most impressive metahuman assets Amanda Waller has in her pocket. At which point in her description the audience is treated to a selection of scenes that cover June's origin.
She falls into a cave filled with skulls and trinkets, she cracks the head off of one, releasing an eerie reflection of herself that turns to vapor before possessing her. It's a departure from the DC Comics story of June Moone in some key ways: originally, June discovered a hidden room in a castle hosting a strange creature who blessed her with the same possession. Well, she didn't know it was a possession at the time - she would simply transform into a powerful witch by uttering a single name: Enchantress.
From here, the story of Enchantress and June Moone becomes something of a fusion between the character's story in John Ostrander's "Suicide Squad" comic, and some ancient mythology based on human history. In the comic, the Enchantress identity was revealed to be a separate entity controlling June's body - an entity later revealed to be The Succubus, a desire demon from a time before time. In the film, director David Ayer seems to have embraced the actual ramifications of a creature that old, and from that reality. The result is the film's version of Enchantress: a dark, occult, mud-caked pagan speaking in a foreign tongue, with magical symbols worn (and written) all over her body.
Unfortunately, this is where knowledge of the comic books the story is based on is no longer a benefit, since some other changes had to be made to keep the character from being laughable. The Enchantress of the comics was basically a cackling spellcaster in a green witch Halloween costume, and even updated versions have staed away from the idea of a truly ancient sorceress. But with powers to warp minds using people's desires and fears, teleport or phase through anything and to anywhere, Amanda Waller only ever got a tiny glimpse of her powers - and absolutely none of her brother's...
Although the brother is never referred to by name during the course of the film, the introduction card for June Moone a.k.a. Enchantress reveals that she has one relative, a brother, known as The Incubus (in religious mythology, the Succubi and Incubi were basically the same, just male and female forms). Although extensive research and investigation has been carried out on the site where June first met Enchantress, the authorities apparently never discovered that the small statue which contained June had a mate - the item is actually stored in Amanda Waller's personal safe. Upon fetching it, Enchantress hurries to Midway City, cracking open the figure to release her brother's spirit into the body of an unsuspecting businessman.
Consuming innocent bystanders to gain strength (with a boost from a nearby third rail), the Incubus gains strength fast, taking on a glowing, armored, nightmarish form of demonic warrior. Again, this is a serious improvement over the visuals of the comic book source material. We'll get to those reasons soon enough, but in the end The Incubus is effectively just the muscle for his smaller, but infinitely more calculating sister. In other words: he stands guard as she unleashes her horrible plan upon humankind.
First things first: those fans who seek out the original series' "Nightshade Odyssey" contained in Issues #14-15 are going to be getting a very different sequence of events than the film. In that story, the same reveals are offered (that Enchantress is actually a demonic Succubus, and has a brother with whom she will do dastardly things. But a few major differences were clearly removed to keep the film's plot streamlined. For starters, it was the Incubus who was the real mastermind behind the entire plan - or, his human host at least - who also happened to be the brother of a Squad member.
Having lured the Squad into his territory, the secrets were laid bare: the Succubus and Incubus were siblings, charged with mating in both spiritual and physical form (needing a brother and sister to possess to make it happen) to produce a child. That child would then be possessed by their father, Azhmodeus - who would use it to return to Earth and basically kickstart the apocalypse. If that sounds complicated, it should, which is probably why David Ayer made some generous changes - including creating a version of the Incubus that didn't look ridiculous:
We can't say Ayer made a bad call, effectively removing any importance from the human host taken by The Incubus (unlike June Moone, who has some agency over the relationship, at times). In addition, the master plan hatched by Enchantress doesn't actually rely on the end of the world - in fact, it's the opposite. We also learn from her introduction card that she is estimated to be over 6000 years old, at least. Being an ancient deity usually comes with an air of classical elegance or grandeur. But to keep things in perspective, Enchantress and Incubus began when the most advanced technology on the planet was the wheel - and even that was a modern invention.
Her life before being trapped inside a handmade figure isn't explored, but it helps explain her appearance and motivations. Around that time - when the city-state known as "Egypt" as just getting started - the main human religions focused on sacrifices, communal shrines, and deities tied to male, female, Earth, and sky. That seems the perfect time for a deity/demon(/magically-gifted metahuman?) to claim entire peoples as tributes, exercising total control. In other words, the kind of deity or ruler that those same people would want to see disappear as progress began its march.
In the movie, that's the basic origin we get, with Enchantress freeing her brother and informing him that the humans have ceased to worship them, instead worshipping machines (and she though the wheel was bad). The plan, then, is to destroy mankind's machines, returning humanity to its baser forms and regain control over them (it's a lot easier to have people worship you when they're practically helpless without your gifts). But before she can put that plan into action, Enchantress has to deal with one problem: the fact that her heart is locked up next to an explosive in Amanda Waller's briefcase.
When Enchantress makes her first move, teleporting to Waller's bedroom, her plan is foiled by the bomb arming itself as she gets closer (Waller's no dummy). Instead, Enchantress heads to the next room, rescues her brother, leaving him to regain his power as he returns to await deployment back to him. When she returns with Rick Flag and the bomb she's supposed to use to blow up the 'non-human entity,' none of them are aware that the entity is her brother - or that she's about to try to kill them.
In the subway tunnel beneath The Incubus' base of operations, Enchantress attempts to trigger the bomb's two-second fuse and escape the destruction, but Flag prevents it from exploding with just fractions of a second left. At the betrayal, Waller makes good on her threat, and tries to kill Enchantress by repeatedly stabbing her captive heart. But Enchantress knew she would, and luckily, her brother is now powerful enough to fuel her himself, removing her heart from the equation.
As she awaits the chance to bring both Waller and her heart back to her side, Enchantress sets out to create a machine of her own: the all-too-familiar blue beam of light firing up into the sky, preparing to erase mankind's weapons and technology from the planet. Once her true heart is returned to her, she partly succeeds, destroying a few military installations and aircraft carriers (knowing just which ones to strike by tapping into Waller's brain). But the Squad fights its way through her twisted army, and slices the heart back out of her chest. And with her brother now dead, and unable to fuel her powers in its place, the team strikes.
The Enchantress is killed, and her massive 'machine' is destroyed by an explosion, since there is no power left to sustain it.
It's also worth mentioning why the Enchantress felt that the time had come to act, since she explains to the Squad that changes are coming - and as the magic in the world "rises," more changes will be coming (a fact that's proven by the sudden emergence of more metahumans). In the context of the Justice League, that may not have a literal payoff (unless you consider Apokolips magic). But for the larger DCEU as a whole, Enchantress' words could prove to be prophetic: and this "rise" of magic could be seen in both the Shazam movie and a potential Justice League Dark adventure. That may just be wishful thinking, but the seeds have been planted.
NEXT: Suicide Squad Review
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.