The general idea behind Suicide Squad: a group of criminals forced to save the world like heroes, isn’t an entirely new one. Still, the various adventures of Task Force X across film, television, and comic books has taken the trope and amped it up by introducing superpowers, magic, and aliens. Fox’s similar Sinister Six film has spent years in development hell and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy were decidedly more altruistic, so DC deserves credit for making us root for a bunch of thieves, murderers, and psychopaths.
While they’ve been around awhile, the big screen version of Suicide Squad last summer made the band of rogues household names and generated a new generation of devotees. The success of the film also emboldened DC and Warner Bros. to move forward with a sequel to the film and a spinoff called Gotham City Sirens focusing on Harley Quinn, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy. If you can’t wait for those movies to arrive, however, and have burned through Task Force X’s comic and TV appearances, we’ve got some more media to hold you over until Suicide Squad returns to theaters. Here are 15 Similar Comics, Shows, And Movies For Suicide Squad Fans.
15 Thunderbolts: Justice, Like Lightning
The modern version of the Thunderbolts is Marvel’s true analogue to Task Force X. Nowadays, they’re a group of reformed criminals (or ones simply trying to reduce their sentence) who are led by a superhero to handle threats both big and small. Originally, however, they started out a good bit differently. Baron Zemo first conceived of the Thunderbolts as a new incarnation of his long-running supervillain group the Masters of Evil. Following the deaths of the Avengers and Fantastic Four at the hands of Onslaught, Zemo devised a much more nefarious plan for them.
Given the lack of heroes in the world, Zemo and his fellow Masters disguised themselves as a new team of superheroes in order to gain public trust and access even greater rewards than they could as criminals. Zemo adopted the name Citizen V, a reference to one of his father’s adversaries. The other members, Beetle, Screaming Mimi, Fixer, Atlas, and Moonstone, became Mach-I (later Mach II-V), Songbird, Techno, Goliath (one of many size-changers to hold this title), and Meteorite, respectively.
Eventually, the ruse was discovered, but a few of the former villains, namely Songbird and Mach-I, have kept their new identities and continued their heroic ways. If the general concept of villains being forced to act like heroes from Suicide Squad appeals to you, check out Thunderbolts: Justice, Like Lightning, which collects the first 4 issues of Thunderbolts from 1997 and a couple of other tie-in comics featuring the team.
14 Escape from New York
Directed by John Carpenter, who also co-wrote and -scored the movie, 1981’s Escape from New York laid a lot of the blueprint for both Suicide Squad and Thunderbolts. Envisioning the world of 1997 if crime kept rising at a substantial rate, Carpenter’s film shows a New York that has cordoned off all of Manhattan and turned it into a super-prison. Outside its massive walls, things are about as dystopian as they can get, leading to the eventual kidnapping of the President. The government’s response: send in criminal Snake Plissken to retrieve him. If he fails to rescue POTUS in 24 hours, however, his head will explode.
That’s right, the movie introduces the now tried and true concept of implanting explosives into criminals in order to make them compliant. While the movie lacks a team like Suicide Squad, many of the elements will resonate with fans of the film. While you’d be best to avoid the sequel, the original is a classic, making you root for the bad guy as he takes on deviants far worse than he.
Was your favorite thing about Suicide Squad that it revolved around a bunch of snarky anti-heroes forced to take on a mystical threat by any means necessary? Well then, Supernatural is definitely a show for you. The series starts out as slightly-estranged brothers Sam and Dean Winchester decide to follow in their father’s footsteps and hunt down the things that go bump in the night. Their odd-couple chemistry gives the show a similar tone to Suicide Squad, and their roadtrip across America, fighting urban legends along the way, is a lot of fun.
As the series progresses, it pulls in all manner of angelic and demonic forces, forms more of an ensemble, and delivers some of the greatest meta-episodes ever written. There’s humor, heart, and lots of action. The best part? The show just got renewed for its 13th season, meaning if you’re a fan, you can basically count on it outliving you as the CW seems determined to let it be the one behemoth that never dies.
12 Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 (2013)
If you’re a fan of Suicide Squad, you’ve likely checked out Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy film from 2014. Though DC’s movie was already on its way by the time Marvel’s came out, the success of the latter certainly helped the former. Aside from both properties being fairly unknown to general audiences, they were both sold as atypical superhero teams saving the world and breaking the rules to do so. If you like what you saw in the film, you’ll definitely want to check out the Guardians comics run by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven that kicks off in 2013.
While the events that lead into the series are based on some previous comics, the book slowly morphs to resemble the movie a bit more, including giving Star-Lord his updated look. The Guardians have been around a long time and had a number of members, but if you like the more roguish lineup of Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot, you’ll enjoy Volume 3 of the series. Even better, it weaves through a number of events, like Infinity, Original Sin, and Black Vortex, and adds a number of other heroes to the roster like Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Angela, Agent Venom, and Kitty Pryde along the way.
11 Jessica Jones
Suicide Squad and Jessica Jones are two vastly different properties, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be fans of both. It’s a safe bet that if you loved the Skwad, then you dug Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Though Jessica Jones doesn’t share Quinn’s sociopathic tendencies, she is a woman who doesn’t take any guff. Jones actually offers a nice counterpoint to Quinn, as both women have been repeatedly traumatized by a psychopathic megalomaniac, but came out of the situations with very different perspectives.
While Quinn fell for her abuser (though many would argue they have a consensual relationship), Jones defined herself against Kilgrave. Still hardened by the experience, she’s much more of an anti-hero than a superhero, spending her time downing bottles of whisky and letting her superpowered fists do the talking. While the Netflix series-- and Krysten Ritter-- does a masterful job of portraying a woman (albeit one with special abilities) who’s been the victim of sexual assault without shying away from the fallout, you should also check out the comic Alias, on which the show is based. While Jessica Jones and Harley Quinn likely wouldn’t get along, they’d still have a lot to commiserate about over a bottle of cheap booze.
10 Kill Bill: Vol. 1
David Ayer pulled a lot from Tarantino when he made Suicide Squad, with Kill Bill proving to be especially inspirational. It's hardly surprising, after all, Tarantino has long been the king of mixing brutal action, dark comedy, and heroes with plenty of shades of gray together. While you should definitely check out both parts of Tarantino’s fourth film, it’s the first volume that will especially appeal to fans of Task Force X. Not only are the most ass-kicking characters all women, but protagonist Beatrix Kiddo rocks a very comic book-esque yellow jumpsuit and katana. She's even played by former Poison Ivy, Uma Thurman.
Unlike most heroes, however, she’s got a vendetta that she’s willing to kill for in the bloodiest fashion possible. Calling Suicide Squad "Diet Tarantino" wouldn’t be an insult, because DC and Warner Bros. were never willing to push the envelope the way Tarantino does every time he crafts a movie. The auteur is able to balance interesting characters and story with the right amount of grindhouse nuttiness and one bucket of blood shy of too many. Our only hope is that DC and Tarantino team up someday for a Harley Quinn/Black Mamba comic book.
9 The Astonishing Ant-Man
Though The Astonishing Ant-Man begins in late 2015 following the events of Secret Wars, it actually picks up right where we left Scott Lang. After subbing in for the Fantastic Four in the brilliant and absurd FF by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred, Scott moves to Miami to be with his daughter. Once there, he sets up a private security company, given that just about everyone knows his "secret" identity, and starts taking down D-list villains. In fact, he actually teams up with a few of them, employing Grizzly Bear and Machinesmith in an effort to reform them, whether they like it or not.
As an ex-con, Scott has a soft spot for small-time crooks, and they seem to gravitate toward him. The series plays like a superhero version of Meet the Parents, with the good-hearted Lang constantly making bad situations worse. To be fair, hooking up with a thief like the new Beetle isn’t helping his case, but that’s what makes the book so fun.
Ant-Man is hardly an anti-hero, but it doesn’t look that way from the outside. The comic is more lighthearted and heroic than Suicide Squad, but it’s got a nice balance of action and comedy. There’s also lots of meta references to the world of superhero crime fighting, like an app that lets villains hire henchmen. Plus, the whole thing is framed around Scott being back in jail. Want to know what happens next? You’ll just have to pick up Astonishing Ant-Man to find out.
If you dug Suicide Squad, then you’re likely a fan of Zack Snyder’s work. Not only did he craft the two previous entries in the DCEU, but his fingerprints are all over the misadventures of Task Force X. Though directed by David Ayer, there’s no denying that Suicide Squad, like the trailer for Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, bears the unique visual palette of Snyder. (Considering his role in the DCEU, that’s hardly surprising.) Given that, you’re bound to enjoy Snyder’s previous DC project, his adaptation of Alan Moore’s Vertigo comic (an imprint of DC), Watchmen.
Though you’ll likely enjoy the comic as well, the film version dispenses with a lot of the meta commentary and reflection on America in the 1980s to offer a more straightforward action film about a band of misfit heroes. It’s got the mix of muted and electric colors that both Snyder and Suicide Squad are known for, and features protagonists that are all carrying around heaps of issues. Despite being heroes, both the Comedian and Rorschach could give any supervillain a run for their money. If you prefer heroes who aren’t squeaky clean, you’ll be a fan of both versions of Watchmen.
7 Thunderbolts Arc on Avengers Assemble
If you’re a fan of the original Thunderbolts lineup and their general backstory, the arc they have on the animated series Avengers Assemble is a pretty satisfying adaptation. While the Thunderbolts will eventually join the MCU in some way, it’s hard to imagine the specifics of their first incarnation being incorporated. For one, it requires a number of the original villains to be well-established before they take on alter-egos. That’s why their slow rollout on Avengers Assemble works so well.
In the premiere of Season 3, we meet a new Masters of Evil featuring Screaming Mimi, Beetle, and Goliath. Over the next few episodes, the Avengers battle the group along with Zemo, Fixer, Mach-IV, and Moonstone. They then meet the Thunderbolts, a new superhero team complete with their own publicist. The next episode finally reveals that the new Masters of Evil and the Thunderbolts are one and the same. It’s a great little 6-episode arc, and essentially condenses their comic book history into a mini movie.
6 Doom Patrol, Vol. 6
Doom Patrol aren’t evil by any means, but they’re certainly misfits. Debuting way back in My Greatest Adventure #80 in 1963, the Doom Patrol consists of heroes whose powers cause them to be a danger to themselves or others, or who just plain can’t fit into society. Mostly focused around metahumans (and a robot named Robotman, naturally), Doom Patrol have been reinvented a number of times over the years. The version that’s most likely to interest fans of Suicide Squad, however, premiered just last year.
In conjunction with musician-turned-comic book-writer Gerard Way, DC created their new Young Animal imprint to tell some more adult (and bizarre) stories. Along with a number of new titles, the revived Doom Patrol takes things in a decidedly more odd direction. If you appreciate Task Force X’s alternative to traditional superhero teams, the Doom Patrol gang will be right up your alley. Plus, being headed up by the frontman of ‘00s emo group My Chemical Romance adds in that Hot Topic flair that Suicide Squad was rocking so hard.
5 Sucker Punch
Gotham City Sirens may be pairing Suicide Squad’s dip-dyed sociopath up with other female anti-heroes, but imagine an entire movie full of Harley Quinns. Okay, so the women of Sucker Punch are hardly as deranged as Harley, but like Jessica Jones, they’ve been through hell. Suffering both mental and physical torment, the women internalize it and create a wild sci-fi/steampunk/fantasy world where they’re the most badass warriors of all time. Despite being such a distinct filmmaker, Sucker Punch is Snyder’s only attempt at original material. Still, the movie borrows plenty from his favorite universes.
Like Suicide Squad, Sucker Punch blends insane CGI action with brutal fight scenes, all under the blanket of Snyder’s contrast-and-saturation-soaked aesthetic. While the movie was hardly a hit, it's got quite a cult following and will likely appeal to those who are fans of the director's work. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if Ayers once again cribbed a bit from Snyder when making Sirens, as they both seem to share the same male-gaze version of feminism and dedication to surrealist action sequences.
4 Fast & Furious Franchise
Back before Suicide Squad dropped, we listed a number of films we thought you should see in anticipation. Chief among them was Fast & Furious 6, co-starring future Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot, but truth be told, the whole franchise is worth checking out if you’re a fan of Task Force X. Though the Furious crew aren’t being forced to do anything by the government, they may be the closest analogue to the Skwad there is. For one, they’re a mix of former cops and crooks who travel the world to square personal vendettas and dole out justice however they see fit. While they may not have any superpowers, the way they drive sure seems preternatural.
Each subsequent film has ramped up the shenanigans, from wowing audiences by zipping under semis in Civics in the first film, to jumping high-end sports cars between skyscrapers in the sixth. Through it all, the group stays together thanks to a shared code and the idea of family. The franchise is an interesting beast, proving highly diverse casts and a slavish reliance on practical effects can still generate huge numbers at the box office. It may not get the acclaim of something like Fury Road, but it certainly helped pave the way for that style of filmmaking. If you’re looking for shady heroes and tons of great action, just about any entry in the franchise will satisfy you.
3 Thunderbolts: Cage
As mentioned above, the original idea behind the Thunderbolts has evolved since their first introduction in 1997, slowly shifting to appear more like Task Force X. One of the best iterations of this version of the team comes from the Heroic Age era of Marvel Comics. Following the catastrophic events of Secret Invasion and Siege, Captain America tasks Luke Cage with leading a new group of Thunderbolts. While Cage is initially reluctant, he eventually agrees and takes command of Moonstone, Ghost, Juggernaut, Crossbones, and Man-Thing (the group’s transportation), with the now-heroic Songbird and Mach-V serving Cage at the group’s base on the Raft.
Crossbones quickly betrays the group when Baron Zemo attempts to gain control of them, but the whole thing was a ploy to test the defenses of the Raft and dissuade the team from double-crossing anyone. From there, they run a number of missions, eventually proving so successful that a second group, the Underbolts, is formed. Even more than the first group, this version of the Thunderbolts is very much in line with the plot and characters that generally make up Suicide Squad stories, meaning the comics are a must-read for any Task Force X fans.
2 All Things Deadpool
Like with Guardians of the Galaxy, if you’re a fan of Suicide Squad then you’re likely into Deadpool. Both films feature wisecracking anti-heroes who stab first, ask questions later. But while the hype behind the Merc with a Mouth’s big screen debut likely turned you onto the rogue mutant already, there’s a ton of comics that you should check out as well. To be honest, we don’t even need to recommend you one, as just about anything you pick up with scratch your itch.
Despite Deadpool and Harley Quinn having a lot in common, the Regeneratin’ Degenerate is more similar to Batman in terms of how many comics bear his name. At any given point, there’s like 2 or 3 Deadpool solo books and at least one team of Avengers or X-Men he’s running with. On top of that, Marvel seems to drop a new miniseries every couple of months featuring Wade Wilson’s dubiously-canon misadventures.
Want to see Deadpool kill a bunch of literary figures? There’s a book for that. What if Wade murdered the entire Marvel Universe? There’s literally a book for that. What about a version of Deadpool where he’s a dog, or duck, or Gwen Stacy? Basically, if you can imagine it, Deadpool and Marvel have done it.
Which fellow comics character or team could beat out Deadpool, the Guardians, and the Thunderbolts for our top recommendation for fans of Suicide Squad? None, actually.
Instead, we’d like to suggest one of the rare examples of a superhero property that has nothing to do with comics: Misfits. Debuting in the UK in 2009, the show found worldwide success thanks to streaming site Hulu nabbing the distribution rights. It focuses on a bunch of juvenile delinquents (including Ramsey Bolton himself) who get struck with superpowers while in the middle of community service. Calling them superheroes, however, is a bit presumptive.
The thing is, they don’t really do anything heroic. Sure, they help some people out here and there, but mostly they just save their own skin while continuing to serve time. The whole series sees some of the kids leave and new ones arrive, but it’s always built around the super-powered protagonists being stuck working for the city. It’s full of humor, some pathos, and a bit of action. The show even eventually deals with time travel and an honest-to-goodness heroic vigilante arrives at one point.
Still, Misfits is one of the best examples of turning the superhero genre on its head and providing a fairly honest portrayal of what average people would do if they were suddenly given extraordinary powers.
Which shows, movies, and comics do you think are similar to Suicide Squad? Let us know in the comments.