Why The Suicide Squad Is DC’s Next Breakout Hit

Senior Contributor
04.22.14 20 Comments
suicide squad

DC Comics

For what’s been mostly a cult comic throughout its history, DC is pushing the Suicide Squad pretty hard these days. They essentially got their own episode of Arrow. The weird Assault on Arkham animated movie is essentially a Suicide Squad cartoon. A movie might be on the way. DC seems convinced that the Suicide Squad is their next big hit. And the thing is, they’re right. Here’s why.

What Is The Suicide Squad?

First of all, non-fans might be confused, so a quick summary of the concept: The Suicide Squad is a team of bad guys with bombs in their necks. They’re sent by the US government on missions that are… well, they’re not called the “Cuddly Bunny Squad.”

So why would a bunch of bad guys be DC’s next big ticket? Well…

Anyone Can Die

One of the ongoing themes of the book, throughout all its incarnations, is that anybody on the team can die horribly at any second. DC can’t kill Batman or Superman. They can’t even have Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen get shot. But there’s no “brand identity” built around Yo-Yo or Blowhard. In fact, part of the fun is watching them get murdered.

It’s Darkly Funny

Part of the reason the Suicide Squad has endured in DC for nearly thirty years in one form or another is because at its best, it’s a really, really funny black comedy. There’s nothing quite as fun as watching bad guys get their comeuppance, especially through overly elaborate methods or completely by accident. Or because they annoyed Amanda Waller.

It’s Built Around Two Classic Anti-Heroes

Another factor is the team is anchored by two great characters, Deadshot and Amanda Waller.

Deadshot started in the comics as yet another Batman villain, a guy in a suit and tails who planned to replace Batman and run the underworld secretly. That was promptly done away with in favor of making him a skilled assassin who never misses. Which is arguably false advertising, but Deadshot is one of the few villains in the DC universe who pulls off being genuinely likeable, partially because he’s honorable and not completely psychotic.

The other is the DC Universe’s most relentless hard-bitten hard-ass, Amanda Waller. Waller was a rare character even now, an overweight, middle-aged woman of color with no superpowers, just a lengthy history of kicking ass. Waller’s dedication is to her country and the mission, not necessarily in that order. Recent retcons have unfortunately made Waller “conventionally attractive,” but she’s still a great character, as DC’s increasing focus on her has shown.

It Can Break The R-Rated Ceiling For Superhero Movies

Finally, there’s this: Doing a Suicide Squad movie, and doing it right, will be cheap enough that DC can shake off the PG-13 and have a little fun. Supervillains are always more fun than superheroes, and with a Sinister Six movie on the way, it might finally be the Squad’s time to shine.

Want To Know More About The Suicide Squad?

Try the original run, courtesy of John Ostrander. Or for a more modern take, try Gail Simone’s spiritual successor, the Secret Six.

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