Suicide Squad, the next eagerly anticipated chapter in the DC Extended Universe, is almost upon us. With it, we have a whole host of new and fan-favorite characters teaming up and a whole lot of speculation as to their fates in the movie and their places in the rapidly expanding universe.
With that in mind, it seems only right to focus on one of Suicide Squad's more volatile characters and iconic Batman villain, the terrifying Killer Croc.
Here are our 11 Things You Need To Know About Killer Croc.
Most people consider the March 1983 Batman #357 to be Killer Croc's first appearance, as it was in that issue that we found out his name and first got a look at his scaly physical form. However, the man who would become to be known as Killer Croc had a cameo in Detective Comics #523, a month before his official debut.
Readers weren't given much to go on to start with. In the story Inferno, Batman fought Solomon Grundy, but we were teased with a dark trenchcoated figure who was said to be a new and mysterious mob boss. In the scant few panels he appears in, the character is cloaked in shadow. In the next issue, Killer Croc had a starring role in the story Don't Mess With Killer Croc! where Croc enters The Tobacconists Club, a shady gentleman's establishment rife with criminals and connections to Gotham's seedy underbelly. Filling the void left by dead head honcho the Squid, Croc assumes leadership and becomes an interim mob boss. Well, until Batman stops him that is.
As awesome as it would have been, Waylon Jones wasn't bitten by a radioactive crocodile nor does he hail from a dead alien planet full of crocmen like himself. He has a condition called regressive atavism. It's a biological term that refers to an animal born with genetic traits long since surpassed by evolution. In Jones' case, his genetic makeup has some ancient reptilian DNA thrown into the mix. However, he also has a metagene, a superhuman genetic trait that enhances his powers.
It's this combination of genetic anomalies that gave Jones his crocodilian looks and imbued him with his animalistic abilities. It's not all good news, however. As time has passed, Waylon's brain has become more and more reptilian, with his behaviour becoming more animalistic and primal in the process. Killer Croc's physical appearance has changed over the years, with some artists choosing to make him more like an anthropomorphic crocodile and less like a man. This has been explained as further mutation and various experiments that have accelerated his condition. In DC's New 52 reboot, Killer Croc has more of a crocodile's head, complete with snapping, slavering jaws.
Whilst his regressive atavism is responsible for a lot of pain and alienation in his life, it also gifted him with superhuman abilities. Firstly, Killer Croc is scarily strong, the conservative estimate of his lifting strength being two tons. Secondly, his skin is impervious to most forms of damage, including being able to withstand long range high-caliber gunfire.
As you may expect, Killer Croc becomes especially deadly in water, being able to swim quickly and use his enhanced senses to keep track of potential targets whilst underwater. If that doesn't make him a formidable enough opponent, there's also Waylon's regenerative powers that come into play on the rare occasion he does suffer injury. He's been shown to be able to grow back teeth, heal wounds and mend broken limbs. On top of all that, Croc is an excellent tracker. Once he's caught somebody's scent, he never forgets it and can track targets for miles thanks to his incredible sense of smell.
Poor old Waylon had a rough introduction to the world. His mother died giving birth to him and his father skipped town soon after. He was left in the care of his alcoholic and abusive aunt, who bullied, struck and taunted the young croc-kid. Waylon eventually has enough and unleashes the beast within, embracing his animal side and violently killing his aunt and eating the body.
Croc's hatred of humanity comes from many sources, having been bullied and attacked for his appearance all his life. However, when Jones finally snaps and murders his aunt, it acted as a catalyst for his misanthropy, planted the seeds for his deep-seated resentment of “normal” people and set him on his high-profile criminal path.
If killing and devouring his aunt wasn't a clue enough, you should know that Croc has a taste for human flesh. How much he does it and how much he enjoys it has varied wildly through different interpretations over the decades since he first appeared.
Croc's cannibalistic tendencies are usually used to illustrate the devolution of his brain and psyche, with the urge for human flesh becoming stronger the more of his brain reverts back to primal reptilian behaviour. Croc's cannibal status is widely regarded as an urban legend by the majority of Gotham's inhabitants and is usually the first thing people talk about when discussing Croc. In the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game, this element is discussed in one of the patient files the player can find dotted around the map. In one of the audio recordings, Croc is interviewed by a doctor who tries to call his bluff when he threatens to eat her. She states it's an urban myth, to which Croc laughs and dryly says “Keep believing that, doc.”
Young Waylon Jones was always in trouble with the law. He was sent to juvenile detention multiple times over his childhood. When he turned 16, Jones was tried and convicted as an adult and sent to jail. Jones ending up spending 18 years of his early life behind bars before he was eventually paroled.
Left with limited options, Jones found employment with a carnival, becoming a popular freak sideshow, with people paying to gawk at his size and scales. It was here that he got the nickname “Killer Croc”. However, his personal showstopper was wrestling alligators in front of cheering crowds. Jones recounts that he was able to break the alligators' backs with his bare hands, which, while grotesque and cruel, is certainly quite a feat. His wrestling past has stood him in good stead for his later criminal life, making him an excellent grappler used to dealing with stronger and deadlier opponents than mere humans. Batman is obviously the exception to that rule, but then isn't he always?
Looking at his list of offences over the decades, it's safe to say that Killer Croc is a villain through and through. He's a murderer, thief, thug, muscle-for-hire and sporadic cannibal. However, underneath Croc's scales still beats a human heart. Croc has occasionally been on the side of good, even helping Batman save the day. He also has long-standing grudges against fellow Bat-villains Bane and Victor Zsasz.
One of the more memorable Croc appearances is in Batman #471 in the story Requiem for a Killer. In it, Croc has taken refuge underground and become friends with the homeless population down there, with the people showing him more humanity and compassion than he's seen before. In repayment, Croc sets about trying to improve their living conditions and promises to help his new community. Batman tracks Croc down and the pair fight. However, the Gotham waterways are due to be flooded and as the water rushes through the system, both Bats and Croc try to hold up a weakened wall in an effort to evacuate the tunnels. Croc orders Batman to save a woman named Aunt Marcy and tries to hold the water back by himself. Batman gets Aunt Marcy to safety, but it's not long before the water bursts through the wall and sweeps Croc away, ostensibly killing him. Of course, it's revealed in a later issue that Croc survived, but his sacrifice is a testament to Croc's rarely seen human side.
Batman #357 isn't just the home of Killer Croc's first fully-fledged appearance. Future Robin Jason Todd also makes his debut in the story Squid. Much like the Flying Graysons, Jason Todd and his parents were acrobats in a circus. Trina and Joseph Todd become aware of some shady business at the circus involving Croc and are asked by Dick Grayson to spy on the various clandestine meetings. Croc holds an all-villain meeting at Gotham City Zoo and the Todds track him. Croc soon twigs he's being followed and lies in wait for the Todds. They find Croc waiting for them and he kills them in cold blood
Jason Todd became a feature in the comics from then on. However, he wouldn't get to don the Robin costume until issue #366, where he finds and wears a spare Robin outfit and helps Batman defeat the Joker in the story The Joker is Wild!. Todd would go on to become the second Robin with a deep resentment and hatred of Killer Croc.
For a character as well-known and enduring as Killer Croc, it's hard to believe that the character hasn't been tried in live-action before now. However, that all changes this year with the release of Suicide Squad.
It's been stated that all the characters that make up Task Force X as presented in the movie have existing beefs and history with Batman. It's unlikely that Croc's origins will be explored in any great detail, but if movie audiences take to him like comic book fans have over the years, there's every possibility that we may see Croc's tragic upbringing and his turn to a life of crime on the big screen in the future. In preparation for the role, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje apparently read up on cannibalism, studied real-life crocodiles, read the early comics and watched episodes of Batman: The Animated Series to get in the head of Waylon Jones. This is especially good news to fans, who often consider the BTAS incarnation of the character to be one of the best versions.
We live in a movie world where special effects and technology have allowed films to star completely CGI characters. However, director David Ayer wanted to go practical with Killer Croc and opted for actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje to wear a ton of prosthetics to bring the scaly character to life.
When asked about the process in bringing Croc to the big screen, Akinnuoye-Agbaje is quoted as saying “The head and shoulders are prosthetic that were glued onto my face and then the body down was painted. It took about five hours to do but it was something that was a challenge that I was up for because I wanted to set a new standard for what can be done with prosthetics. We could have easily CGI’d this, but David [Ayer] was insistent on there being an actor to bring out the soul of the character. It gave me an opportunity to show what I could do with prosthetics.”. Whilst several fans have griped that the big-screen Croc is considerably smaller than the 11 foot monster depicted in the comics, from what we've seen so far in trailers and promotional materials, the prosthetics look impressive enough without losing the actor's performance under it all.
Despite the team's ever changing roster, the character of Killer Croc has never been part of Task Force X. Much like Katana, played by Karen Fukuhara in the upcoming movie, his inclusion in the team is down to writer/director David Ayer.
His addition to the team makes sense on paper considering that Killer Croc is a fan-favorite Batman villain who very occasionally can be reasoned with and show some compassion. The comic book writers clearly think so too, with both Katana and Killer Croc scheduled to join the comics as part of DC's ongoing Rebirth initiative, with the first issue of the new Suicide Squad: Rebirth series planned for release around the same time as the movie.
Can you think of anything else fans should know about Killer Croc? Let us know in the comments!