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How James Gunn Reinvented Polka-Dot Man For The Suicide Squad

When you think of super-powered crime-fighting teams, it's likely that groups like the Justice League or Avengers come to mind. However, with the recent release of "The Suicide Squad," there's a new group of characters to love. The team is made up of impressive fighters including the grumpy, yet amazingly powerful Bloodsport (Idris Elba), the ultra-patriotic Peacemaker (John Cena), the kind (albeit man-eating) King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), and of course, the iconic Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie).

Aside from the antiheroes with typical powers like strength, speed, and cunning, there are several additions to the team who have more unique abilities, like Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) who speaks with and controls rats. One of the more unusual characters is Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), who has the underwhelming power to sprout polka dots on his face and body and eject them at enemies.

Though James Gunn has described Polka-Dot Man as "one of the dumbest characters ever," he explained how he added depth to the otherwise silly villain to create a much more complex character.

James Gunn created a backstory for Polka-Dot Man

Polka-Dot Man, originally known as Mister Polka-Dot, first appeared as an eccentric low-tier villain in early 1960s "Batman" comics and was able to transform his polka dots into various weapons and other objects as needed (via Fandom). Gunn wanted to reinvent the character for "The Suicide Squad," and give the obscure villain a deeper story — though he didn't have much of anything to work off of.

"At the beginning, I was just trying to figure out who would be in the Suicide Squad," Gunn explained, per DC Comics. "I wanted it to be a really deep mix of characters, some of whom we know, some of whom we don't. Polka-Dot Man, seriously—I would look up who are considered the dumbest super-villains of all time on Google and at the top of every list was Polka-Dot Man."

Thus, Gunn embarked on his mission to create Polka-Dot Man's backstory, which resulted in a tragic tale that leaves viewers sympathizing with him.

Polka-Dot Man had a hard life

Gunn went on to describe why he chose to characterize Polka-Dot Man the way that he did. "I wanted to take this character and give him a soul," he said. "This character who we think is like the dumbest character of all time, who is made fun of at the beginning of the movie by the other dumb super-villains, he has this incredibly dark, dark, dark backstory, which of course is just purely a cinematic invention.

"I think it was just about giving us this guy who was the typical loser and getting to see him on his journey. And I think most of us in the world probably relate a lot more to Polka-Dot Man than we do to Captain America."

Polka-Dot Man is indeed a tragic character — we learn that his mother, who was a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs, experimented on him and his siblings in the hopes of turning them into superheroes. She infected them with the inter-dimensional virus that still plagues him as an adult, and sadly, some of his siblings didn't survive the experiments, leaving him with PTSD. We also learn that if Polka-Dot Man doesn't expel his dots twice a day, his face becomes engorged and disfigured, and the dots will eventually eat him alive. 

Such a tragic villain added another layer to "The Suicide Squad," and although Polka-Dot Man didn't have the best ending, at least he went out feeling like a hero.