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The Suicide Squad: How Did The Thinker Get His Powers?

With The Thinker confirmed as one of the explosive members of James Gunn's revamped Suicide Squad, it's worth investigating the deep DC origins of this unique supervillain — specifically, the source of his powers.

Per a recent announcement at DC FanDome, Dr. Who actor Peter Capaldi has been tapped to play the cerebral evildoer in The Suicide Squad, a much-anticipated reboot of the franchise launched by David Ayer in 2016 to tepid critical and fan response. As DC and DCEU fans already know, The Suicide Squad is based on a premise from the original comics in which a team of Gotham's worst baddies is assembled to do good, but with a little explosive device implanted in their necks to keep them honest. Set one evil toe out of line, and BOOM. Capaldi joins Nathan Fillion and several other high-profile newcomers who did not appear in Ayer's film.

"The Thinker" is actually a name that has been worn by multiple characters in the DC Multiverse. Capaldi appears poised to play the first and most famous Thinker, a man by the name of Clifford DeVoe. DeVoe first appeared in 1943's All-Flash #12, and was created by Gardner Fox and E.E. Hibbard. Three years later, he joined the Injustice Society, a team of six DC supervillains who squared off against a Superman-led Justice League. Here's the source of this monster's power.

Clifford DeVoe's powers derive mostly from his Thinking Cap helmet

Per the original comic version of Clifford DeVoe, the villain actually gains most of his mental powers from a vital accessory. This O.G. Thinker was more of a criminal mastermind than a butt-kicking meta-muman. After leaving behind a career as an attorney, DeVoe realized that most of Gotham's villainous underclass were strong enough to do some real damage, but lacked the intellect to organize and strategize. He began his own career as a bad guy by marshaling these small-time evildoers and directing them to do his bidding. In the course of this operation, he was always on the lookout for technological items that might help him in his work. This is how he came across the Thinking Cap.

The Arrowverse version of Clifford DeVoe (Neil Sandilands), who appears on The CW's The Flash, was struck by the STAR Labs particle accelerator while wearing this canonical Thinking Cap. The Cap both protected DeVoe's human DNA from mutation, and focused the particle beam to enhance his already formidable intelligence. His only meta-human traits are mental, as a result. 

The Thinking Cap allows DeVoe to project his mental energy. This manifests in several distinct "powers" including telepathy, telekinesis, probability manipulation, power transferral, genetic manipulation, dimensional manipulation — even power absorption. He makes a serious bid for Most Dangerous Mind in the DCEU. 

Just how these skills will be harnessed by Gunn in The Suicide Squad is yet to be determined. Given the nature of the DC multiverse, Gunn's version of the character could bear substantial or negligible similarity to any of the preexisting versions — fractured realities offer endless possibilities. Regardless, The Thinker is certainly a worthy addition to the team.