‘The Suicide Squad’: What To Know About Project Starfish And How It Connects To The Justice League

If there’s one thing director James Gunn has proven to us with his work in the Marvel Universe, it’s that he truly knows all the wackiest plot points and characters in comics and, more importantly, embraces them like no one else in the biz. Based on The Suicide Squad’s trailers (which feature villains such as Polka Dot Man and Weasel), we can expect to see him give the same fun and quirky treatment to the DC Universe, and — with added context of the film’s newest trailer — we think we have a slightly better idea of what to expect. In the trailer, we see glimpses of the film’s big (literally) villain, and hear a bit about a “Project Starfish.” For those wondering a bit more about what all this means, we’ve got you covered.

What is “Project Starfish?”

While what exactly “Project Starfish” entails has yet to be revealed, we do know perhaps the most important thing about it: it involves the Suicide Squad taking on Starro and, presumably, a few creatures under its control. Director James Gunn confirmed this in an interview earlier this year, where he explained why choosing Starro as The Suicide Squad‘s villain perfectly suited the tone of film:

“Starro is hilarious because he’s ridiculous. He’s a giant, cerulean blue starfish, but he’s also fucking terrifying. When I was a kid I thought that was the scariest thing of all time… and I think that exemplifies what this movie is: it is ridiculous and it’s also terrifying, and serious. So he works really well as the villain of the movie—as one of the villains, actually.”

While Starro probably won’t be the star of the show (yes, that was bad, I know), it is the big bad that brings the Suicide Squad together which, coincidentally, isn’t the first DC superhero team it united — but we’ll get to that later.

Who is Starro?

First appearing in the DC Universe in 1960, Starro is a hyper-intelligent alien lifeform that appears as a giant, blue starfish. When the cosmic entity first landed on Earth, it imbued three starfish with his power in order to help it conquer the planet. Between Starro and its three hench…fish, the team managed to explode an atomic bomb, absorb its energy, kidnap leading scientists, and place the entirety of Rhode Island under mind control using face-hugging spores pictured here:

Warner Bros.

Aside from telepathy, mind control, and being strangely cunning for a kaiju starfish, Starro’s greatest asset is its ability to reproduce asexually and create clones, giving it a nearly endless army. So, while Starro might seem pretty laughable, it actually has given a lot of DC characters a lot of grief, and is responsible for creating the biggest team in all of DC comics.

Wait, really? What team?

Believe it or not, Starro is the villian responsible for creating the original Justice League. Remember how I said he popped up in 1960? Well, in the very same issue he debuted in — The Brave and the Bold #28 — the Justice League was formed in an effort to take him down. After becoming seemingly unstoppable, DC heroes Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman banded together to coat the creature in a chemical substance that rendered its powers useless, and thus the Justice League was born. Pretty wild to think out of all of DC’s villains, Starro was the one who forced the universe’s biggest team-up. Even wilder to think what that means for the Suicide Squad in the upcoming film.

The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max on August 6, 2021.