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How The Cast Of The Suicide Squad Looks In Real Life

Back in 2016, David Ayer's "Suicide Squad" was supposed to be the start of a brand-new franchise within the DC Extended Universe, Warner Bros.' answer to the wildly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (which was already entering its third phase by this time). However, negative reception from both fans and critics put things in an awkward situation. The film made enough money to justify a sequel, but the studio knew that they would need to find a new approach to the would-be series for a new installment to recoup the goodwill lost from the first entry. As it happened, their rivals at Disney ended up briefly firing writer/director James Gunn from his third "Guardians of the Galaxy" film not long after this, which ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Although Gunn was ultimately rehired by Disney and Marvel, Warner Bros. was able to snatch him up in between and enlist his services on a soft reboot/sequel to "Suicide Squad." The resulting film was received far more warmly by audiences, despite an inferior box office due to a variety of factors, including an R-rating and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Gunn's skill at creating an ensemble of strangely lovable, larger-than-life characters was a perfect fit for DC's roster of antiheroes, and he was able to take a talented group of actors and render many of them unrecognizable as the various team members of Task Force X. Here is what the main cast of "The Suicide Squad" looks like when they're not fighting a giant alien starfish.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn

The most popular and well-known member of the Squad is easily Harley Quinn, a character originally introduced in the animated "Batman" series of the '90s as a love interest for the Joker. The character quickly developed a life of her own and gradually grew out of her psychopathic boyfriend's shadow to become a beloved and iconic presence both in and out of the comics. She is now a regular in many DC stories and even enjoys her own successful animated series, the self-titled "Harley Quinn," which offers a far more adult-oriented depiction on HBO Max.

"The Suicide Squad" actually marks Australian actress Margot Robbie's third time portraying the anarchic harlequin, following a well-received debut in the original "Suicide Squad" and a central role in the much more colorful "Birds of Prey," which Robbie produced and used as a vehicle to give the character the same independence she had earned on the page. As with her previous appearances, Robbie is dolled up in white clown makeup and a variety of fake tattoos (though not as many as her original outing), as well as black-and-red hair dye that accentuates her similarly colored costume selections.

Idris Elba as Bloodsport

Outside of the delirious Dr. Quinzel, the most prominent role in the original "Suicide Squad" was that of Deadshot, portrayed by Will Smith as a jaded assassin with a hatred of superheroes and a strained relationship with his daughter. Due to scheduling conflicts, however, Smith was not able to reprise this role for Gunn's new take on the property. Idris Elba was originally rumored to replace Smith as Deadshot, but the decision was made to cast him as a new character, Bloodsport. It seems like the filmmakers may have ultimately had it both ways, as the film's depiction of Bloodsport is, well, a jaded assassin with a hatred of superheroes and a strained relationship with his daughter.

Despite the obvious similarities on the page, Elba brought his signature swagger and soulfulness to the role, helping him stand apart from what came before and take a real leadership position within the ensemble. Compared to some of his fellow actors, he didn't have to alter his appearance much beyond growing out a graying beard, which helps to project the world-weariness that initially defines the character. It speaks to Elba's versatility that he can alternate between roles that take advantage of his natural handsomeness and ones like this that allow him to portray a bitter gruffness.

John Cena as Peacemaker

Outside of Harley Quinn, many of the characters in "The Suicide Squad" are drawn from the obscure side of the DC Comics pantheon. One character who has an intriguing history behind the scenes is Peacemaker, who was acquired by DC along with a number of other characters from the now-defunct Charlton Comics. The story goes that Alan Moore originally wanted to use these new heroes as the cast of a graphic novel that would ultimately become "Watchmen," but DC was reluctant to have them used in such an extreme context. As such, Moore and artist Dave Gibbons ultimately created their own characters loosely based on the ones from Charlton. Thus, the Comedian ended up taking the role that Peacemaker would have played.

Ironically, the Charlton characters ended up having a fairly minimal footprint compared to the rest of DC's roster. But thanks to the popularity of "The Suicide Squad" and his self-titled spinoff series for HBO Max, Peacemaker has now proven to be the exception, thanks in large part to Gunn's writing and the charismatic presence of John Cena. Outside of the "beacon of freedom" silver helmet, Cena didn't have to change his look to play the role, but it appears that he's taken the character to heart, as he would often wear the full costume during interviews when promoting both the film and the show.

Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag

Ostensibly the one normal man entrusted to manage a collection of freaks and weirdos, Rick Flag is a military colonel given the responsibility of leading Task Force X from the ground, relaying the orders of his superior (Amanda Waller) and making sure those orders are followed, all while getting the squad to trust him despite the fact that he's working for someone who could potentially blow their heads off at a moment's notice. Introduced in the first "Suicide Squad" as an efficient team leader who learns to care for the outcasts under his command, Flag returns in the pseudo-sequel as a man more willing to bend the rules.

Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman (best known for "Altered Carbon" and the "Robocop" remake) reprises his role here as a Rick Flag who won't stand by when he sees injustice, as he gives assistance to the local freedom fighters, halts the mission so he can try to rescue Harley, and even risks his life to expose sinister government secrets. Outside of trading in his facial scruff for a more clean-cut look, Kinnaman's appearance is perhaps the most straightforward on the team, which is appropriate considering the role that he's playing.

Viola Davis as Amanda Waller

A mysterious and coldly efficient parallel to Marvel's Nick Fury, Amanda Waller is a DC mainstay who is perhaps the most consistently recurring character in the "Suicide Squad" comics, as she's the one to utilize the frequently expendable team for her own ends, whether that be destabilizing third-world governments or recovering potentially compromising state secrets. Though she may not seem threatening considering that she's someone with no superpowers and rarely involves herself in combat, Waller's ruthlessness and willingness to manipulate anyone and everyone has made her a fearsome presence in any story she appears in.

Between her appearance in the original "Suicide Squad" and "The Suicide Squad," Viola Davis won an Academy Award for her work in Denzel Washington's "Fences," and she's currently one of the most respected and in-demand actresses of her generation. It speaks to her immense talents that she doesn't view this comic book character as a paycheck gig but rather imbues Waller with all the conviction and fiery intensity that she might bring to a Shakespearean production. As with Flag, her appearance is relatively grounded compared to the colorful cast around her, which allows her to create a memorable presence through sheer force of personality alone.

David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man

If one were to make a list of the silliest, most ridiculous DC villains of all-time, it's likely that you'd find Polka-Dot Man near the top of that list. We know this because James Gunn has himself admitted that part of his reason for including the character is that he discovered him while researching exactly that. "Seriously, I would look up like who are considered the dumbest super villains of all time on Google and at the top of every list was Polka-Dot Man," the director told Insider. "I wanted to take this character and give him a soul."

A big part of successfully adapting Polka-Dot Man to screen was the casting of character actor David Dastmalchian, who'd already played a number of DC characters in film, TV, and animation. His sincere and earnest portrayal of a would-be superhero with a traumatic backstory and deeply disturbing relationship with his mother helped make him a fan favorite. Though his transformation might initially seem limited to the humorously garish costume, Dastmalchian had to wear some intense prosthetic makeup for scenes where the character's powers manifested as colorful boils all over his face.

Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2

One of the characters on the team who might seem the least likely to be a formidable combatant is Ratcatcher 2, the daughter of a semi-obscure Batman villain who passed on his unique technology that allows the user to control swarms of rats. Though the original character was mostly a sewer-dwelling jewel thief, his daughter has internalized her father's love for these misunderstood creatures and helps to solidify the film's themes of empathy for those who've been discarded by society. Indeed, her seemingly innocuous superpower ends up almost single-handedly saving the day in the film's climax.

This empathy is carried through beautifully in the performance of relative newcomer Daniela Melchior, who gives the character a sense of warmth and kindness that ultimately endears her to the rest of the team, particularly Idris Elba's Bloodsport. To convincingly portray a character who has no qualms about spending her time with rats, Melchior had to tone down her traditionally pretty features, donning a longer, messy hairstyle, as well as the exhausted eyes of a borderline narcoleptic who's always looking forward to her next nap.

Peter Capaldi as the Thinker

Though not a member of the titular team, the Thinker ends up playing a pivotal role in "The Suicide Squad." As the lead scientist behind the mysterious Project Starfish, he not only has valuable information on what exactly the project entails, but the squad is able to use him to infiltrate the heavily guarded facility known as Jotunheim, where the monstrous alien being known as Starro is residing. However, it turns out that decades of the Thinker's experiments have turned the beast angry and vengeful, which becomes a massive problem when the squad's mission results in it being unleashed.

Though his signature shock of white hair is buried under a bald cap and all manner of electrodes dotting his scalp, the snarky and devious delivery of the Thinker is unmistakably that of Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, best known for his incarnation of the Twelfth Doctor in "Doctor Who," as well as the similarly motormouthed Malcolm Tucker from "The Thick of It" and "In the Loop." Despite the considerable makeup job done to his head, the veteran actor's wild eyes and skill for verbal tirades sprinkled with vulgar language were in no way hampered.

Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang

One of the few actors to return from the first "Suicide Squad" (outside of Robbie, Davis, and Kinnaman) was Jai Courtney, whose Australian bank robber known as Captain Boomerang was a key member of that film's Task Force X. Best known as longtime nemesis of the Flash (who handily arrests him in a brief cameo from that earlier film), Boomerang is a hard-drinking rascal with a knack for stirring up trouble amongst his teammates. In fact, it's his goading of the equally restless Slipknot that leads directly to the latter's attempted desertion and subsequent death.

Though his screen time in the sequel is considerably less than the first time around, Courtney still shows up to help establish continuity with the previous installment (the plot of which is largely ignored), and his brief interactions with Harley suggest a shared history that helps viewers who never saw the first film adjust to the world of James Gunn's movie with ease. In both films, Courtney makes his handsome visage look downright grungy with some Wolverine-esque facial hair and a few golden teeth, which go a long way towards depicting his character as the low-life thug that he is.

Sylvester Stallone as King Shark (Voice)

Prior to the release of the first trailer for "The Suicide Squad," fans knew that the imposing King Shark (who regularly joins the team in the comics) would be making his feature film debut in Gunn's film. What they didn't know, however, was who would be voicing the character. Then the trailer dropped, and as soon as the character appeared on screen in all his bloodthirsty glory, a familiar voice emerged to give life to the simpleminded creature. It was none other than "Rocky" and "Rambo" star Sylvester Stallone, who'd previously been cast in a role that had been undisclosed until that moment.

This wasn't the first time that Stallone had collaborated with James Gunn, as the superstar also played the Ravager captain Stakar Ogord in the director's previous film, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." According to Gunn, he had written the character with Stallone's voice in mind, but he was afraid to ask the legendary actor in case the casting didn't work. He even went as far as hiring three different voice actors to perform the role, none of whom were able to satisfy him, until he finally reached out to Stallone, resulting in one of the most beloved characters in the film.

Steve Agee as John Economos/King Shark (MoCap)

Sylvester Stallone may have provided the vocal performance of King Shark, but he wasn't officially cast until after "The Suicide Squad" concluded filming. Since the bulky character was a part of the main cast and had many interactions with the other actors, the filmmakers needed an actor on set to provide the movements and motion-capture reference that would eventually assist the visual effects artists in creating the fully CGI shark man. Enter comedian Steve Agee, an old friend of James Gunn's who, similar to Stallone, had also previously played a Ravager in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2."

In addition to having worn a shark-shaped rig and bodysuit on set for the physical performance of King Shark, Agee also appears as himself in Amanda Waller's command center, where he plays agitated technician John Economos. Outside of growing out his beard, the character's look doesn't differ too terribly from Agee's own. The actor would later re-team with Gunn, John Cena, and Emilia Harcourt actress Jennifer Holland in the spinoff series "Peacemaker," allowing him to spend more time with his previously minor supporting character and give him a real sense of depth and personality.