Suicide Squad came out. It isn’t a perfect film but it does have a lot of fun stuff going on. And one thing they did right was to really embrace the comic book origins of the characters. No matter how weird, it did not shy away from that stuff. Consequently there are a lot of references to a lot of different DC Comics. Some obvious, some subtle. Let’s break it down! Spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie.
The fictional Louisiana prison that in the movie holds Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo and Killer Croc is straight from the Suicide Squad comics. It first showed up in Suicide Squad #1 (1987) by John Ostrander, Len Wein and John Byrne. In the comics, it sometimes served as the off-the-books headquarters for Task Force X, AKA The Suicide Squad.
The site of Enchantress’ attack is Midway City. This is a fictional DC Comics city in the midwest, roughly analagous to Chicago. It’s not as famous as Gotham or Metropolis (or even Star City or Central City) but it’s the city where Hawkman and Hawkgirl are based out of in the comics.
Once they’re in Midway City, the Squad heads to a building to extract Amanda Waller. The name of the building is Ostrander which is the writer who created Suicide Squad. While the name had been used once in 1959 for a World War 2 team in DC Comics, Ostrander invented the premise of Amanda Waller using supervillains to conduct black ops mission in exchange for shaving off their sentence.
Enchantress is a little used comic book character that did actually serve with the 1987 incarnation of Suicide Squad. She was gone by issue 15, working on getting her powers under control. In the comics, June Moon was a freelance artist who encountered a demon named Dzamor who gave her supernatural abilities. Later this was retconned to say she was possessed by a demon named Succubus and Enchantress was a separate personality from June Moon. Some of this was used in the movie. In the Suicide Squad arc “The Nightshade Odyssey” her brother Incubus shows up and wants to mystically procreate with her to release their demon father Azhmodeus.
In the movie Deadshot’s background is very accurate. Floyd Lawton is the world’s best hitman and the only thing he cares about in the world is his estranged daughter. He initially appeared as a Batman villain so its entirely appropriate that it’s Batman who captures him. After Amanda Waller, Deadshot is probably the Suicide Squad member who has appeared in the most comics stories. In the comics he wears a targeting lens over his right eye but in the movie it’s on his left.
There are several flashbacks for Harley which explain her origins as Joker’s therapist at Arkham Asylum. This is actually a character and origin that initially appeared in Batman: The Animated Series by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. In one brief shot, she and Joker are dancing in her costume from that show in a shot that is reminiscent of a painting by comics artist Alex Ross.
Harley frequently carried a massive mallet on the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon. When the team suits up in the movie, she picks up a version of the prop before switching to a bat. Harley became a member of Suicide Squad in 2011.
Rick Flagg was the name of the leader of the WWII version of Suicide Squad. His son leads Task Force X in the current day, so he’s technically Rick Flagg, Jr. He was a military man tasked with keeping the criminals in line on their missions. He had a rivalry with Deadshot and was romantically involved with the team medic, Karin Grace. Another supervillain member, Nightshade, had unreciprocated feelings for Flagg. He never had a relationship with Enchantress like in the movie.
When Amanda Waller pitches Task Force X to the military, there are logos for A.R.G.U.S. on the walls. This was introduced when DC Comics rebooted in 2011. A.R.G.U.S. stands for Advanced Research Group Uniting Super-Humans. They liaise with the Justice League and are essentially DC’s answer to Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Both Amanda Waller and A.R.G.U.S. appeared prominently in season two of Arrow on TV and even had a version of the Suicide Squad. But once the movie went into production the show had to write off all those characters.
Slipknot meets a similar fate in the movies to that of the comics. In fact, I just reviewed the issue where it happened, Suicide Squad #9 in my latest Comic Tropes.
In the movie we know that Katana watches Flagg’s back and her sword contains the souls of those its killed. In the comic books this is fleshed out a lot more: Tatsu Yamashiro fell in love with and married Maseo but his jealous brother Takeo become more and more jealous. Takeo joined the Yakuza and was gifted a mystical sword that came to be known as Soultaker. Takeo came to Maseo’s house and killed him. In the fight, they started a fire. Tatsu showed up in time to take Soultaker and defeat Takeo but her children were killed in the fire. She’s lost her family but can still communicate with her late husband through the sword. She served on the first official mission of the Suicide Squad which involved the Yakuza. She saved the lives of Manhunter and Bronze Tiger.
In one of Harley’s flashbacks we see her willingly dive into a vat of chemicals at Ace Chemicals for the Joker. In DC’s New 52 reboot from 2011, Joker shoves her in. In The Killing Joke, one potential origin for the Joker is shown where he was a comedian forced to rob Ace Chemicals who fell into a vat of the toxic stuff when Batman showed up to intervene. This also happened to Joker in the 1989 Batman movie.
Captain Boomerang is arrested by Flash in a surprise cameo. He debuted in Flash #117 (December, 1960) by John Broome and Carmine Infantino He is one of the longest serving members on Suicide Squad and is also traditionally a Flash villain. His penchant for gimmick boomerangs and Australian background are also from the comics. Although in the comics he also had a penchant for wearing a smock with boomerangs on them, a tiny cap and spoke in a very exaggerated accent.
Actor Jim Parrack is credited as playing Johnny Frost. In the movie he’s simply one of Joker’s henchmen. In a 2008 comic, Joker, by Brian Azarello and Lee Bermejo, Frost is a low-level thug who becomes Joker’s chauffeur and we see Joker from his perspective.
Killer Croc hasn’t been a member of the team in the comics but it makes sense when you realize the filmmakers wanted to include King Shark originally. While King Shark has been a team member he would have had to have been a completely CG character and the movie decided to swap him for a similar monster type supervillain, the Batman enemy Killer Croc.
There have been three El Diablos in DC Comics. The first two were superheroes. The third, Chato Santana, appeared in 2011’s Suicide Squad comics as an ex-criminal with fire powers like the one Jay Hernandez plays in the movie. He was created by Jai Nitz and Phil Hester and first appeared in volume 3 of El Diablo (2008). In the comics, he burned down a building from a criminal that wouldn’t pay a debt and later realized it had innocent people including children inside so he surrendered to the police. In the movie, it becomes even more personal.
David Harbour plays Derek Tolliver, a government guy on Amanda Waller’s side. In the comics, Tolliver was the Squad’s liaison with the NSC and eventually tried to blackmail the Suicide Squad. Flagg ultimately killed him to protect the Squad’s existence a secret.
Common plays a criminal in business with Joker. He’s credited as Monster T. He has a lot of tattoos and it’s speculated by many fans that he’s playing a version of supervillain Tattooed Man. If he shows up again in a DC Universe movie, maybe so.
After the movie but before the credits fully roll, we see Bruce Wayne meet privately with Amanda Waller for an exchange of information. It’s heavily implied she knows exactly who Bruce Wayne really is and he knows exactly what she’s doing. In Suicide Squad #10, Waller dresses down Batman. She’s about the only character to ever intimidate him.
In the movie Ike Barinholtz plays Captain Griggs at Belle Reve. In the comics there was an Air Force Major Keith Griggs who served with Steve Trevor. Likely a coincidence.