The first photo of the Suicide Squad cast hit the web on Monday, stirring up a steady mix of excitement and confusion.
In today’s chaotic global landscape, it’s understandable such a title could elicit feelings of terror and intrigue, plus an reasonable amount of controversy.
Relax – it’s just a movie. And a comic book movie at that.
The film’s director David Ayer has been seriously active on social media, sharing photos of the cast doing table reads and getting into costume.
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) April 9, 2015
Each new image elicits social media explosions and hundreds of news articles and the result can be an overwhelming one for those not in the know.
So what exactly is the ominous-sounding “suicide squad”? Allow us to explain.
Firstly, it’s a movie that’s not all about superheroes – a rarity in this day and age.
Refreshingly, Suicide Squad centres on the scum of society, the underworld masterminds, the rejects and the inherently evil.
The original DC Comics comic books followed the escapades of a top secret group of super-villains recruited by the government to execute special black ops missions in exchange for clemency.
Officially known as Task Force X, but affectionately referred to by its members as the Suicide Squad, the group is comprised entirely of ex-inmates from the high-security Belle Reve Prison.
The nickname is derived from the nature of the group’s missions: to say they are life-threatening would be an understatement. Worse, each member has a small bomb implanted in their neck, ready to be detonated should they stray from their objectives.
Margot Robbie: The Aussie rising star will play Harley Quinn, resident bad girl and girlfriend to Batman’s nemesis, the Joker. Quinn has a background in psychiatry and a penchant for analysing people, along with superhuman strength and agility.
Jai Courtney: Another Australian, Courtney will play Captain Boomerang, an Australian-born criminal who uses boomerangs to kill his enemies. Captain Boomerang is volatile and unpredictable and the comic books portray him as a racist and a jerk.
Will Smith: Smith plays Deadshot, a masked antihero and hired assassin who “never misses”. He originally worked as a crimefighter in Gotham City before attempting to take over the underworld and being thrown in jail by Batman. He has little regard for human life.
Jared Leto: The Oscar winner takes over from the late Heath Ledger as The Joker, a psychopathic criminal mastermind whose physical deformities cause him to look like a deranged clown. The Joker is often regarded as one of the greatest villains in comic book history.
Cara Delevigne: The British model will play Enchantress, a blonde artist with the power to transform into a raven-haired sorceress with a range of magical powers, from healing to teleportation. She is recruited into Task Force X when she fails to use her powers for good.
Joel Kinnaman: Kinnaman will play Rick Flag, one of the original and most successful members of the Suicide Squad. The role was originally intended for Tom Hardy, who pulled out due to scheduling conflicts.
The film will also feature some familiar faces from DC’s other upcoming blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in the form of Ben Affleck as Batman and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.
The movie also stars Viola Davis, Common and Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott Eastwood.
The nitty gritty details
The movie is still more than a year away – with a release date of August 5, 2016 – but audiences are already excited to see their favourite antiheroes in one movie.
While Marvel’s Avengers franchise offers insight into the lives of superheroes, Suicide Squad is grittier and edgier.
The cast is also notably younger and full of rising stars – Robbie, Courtney, Eastwood and Delevigne in particular – whereas The Avengers features bigger, more established names like Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr.
Suicide Squad will also act as a follow-up to the much-hyped Batman v Superman which hits theatres on March 25, 2016.
“I can say that [Suicide Squad is] a Dirty Dozen with supervillains,” Ayer, who directed last year’s Fury with Brad Pitt, revealed in an interview with Empire magazine.
“Then I can ask the question, ‘Does a movie really need good guys?’”