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If you’re like the millions of people who were paying close attention to the latest MTV Movie Awards, then the odds are good you were blown away by the third trailer for David Ayer’s upcoming adaptation of DC and Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad. The action-packed film crams in a whole lot of talent and even more bullets into a non-stop gauntlet that’s guaranteed to be a whole lot of fun to run. If you weren’t interested in this entry into DC’s Extended Universe before, the odds are good this trailer put you in the mood for some anti-heroes. There’s a lot to know about this freaking awesome team and the exciting adaptation (it’s going to be way better than Batman v. Superman) due out on August 5, but we’ve got the whole story for you.

1. In the Comics, Part 1

There have been several iterations of the Suicide Squad over the years. Their origins actually go all the way back to World War II, when an elite group of soldiers led by Rick Flag were bashed against the front lines repeatedly, earning their nickname thanks to an incredibly high mortality rate. They were also utilized in the Korean War and to some extent in the post-war era when President Truman commissioned them — under the government tag, “Task Force X” — to handle the rapid influx of costumed criminals.

Suicide Squad

2. In the Comics, Part 2

While the Suicide Squad was also reimagined years later as a second iteration featuring Rick Flag, Jr. taking over his father’s leadership role, their adventures probably aren’t super applicable to to upcoming film. No, the most applicable origin story for the team revolves around Legends, this giant DC crossover event written by Ostrander and Wein and drawn by John Byrne. That event saw government bureaucrat Amanda Waller recruit a soldier named Rick Flag to head a team of super-villains attempting to keep the general peace in the wake of some crazy shenanigans involving Darkseid and every major hero in the DC Universe.

The Team Once More

3. In the Comics, Part 3

In Legends, the Suicide Squad is led by Rick Flag on the field, with an assist from Deadshot, the world’s greatest marksmen, Captain Boomerang, whose power is exactly what you think it is, Bronze Tiger, one of the world’s greatest martial artists, Enchantress, again you could probably guess what she does, and the short-lived Blockbuster (he died on the first mission). In spite of some big-time setbacks and thanks to their efforts over the course of Legends, the Suicide Squad is granted provisional working status.

The New Suicide Squad

4. How Do These Guys Fit In To The DCEU?

In terms of the unraveling events of the DC Extended Universe, Suicide Squad is more than just an action movie. It’s a chance for DC newcomers to get a look at the wider world outside Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. Expect a lot of info about how the DC Government works, for example. In terms of pure numbers, Suicide Squad helps to double the number of hero boots on the ground. Even better, it adds a splash of grey to those backup troops (since they’re mostly reformed villains).

The Justice League

5. What We Know About the Movie’s Plot

Several nefarious a-holes are caught and tossed into the pits of Arkham Asylum, the infamous nuthouse in Gotham City. Rather than rot, government bureaucrat Amanda Waller decides that a select few of these felons — Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Boomerang, and a few others — are fit for street duty. Operating under the handle “Task Force X,” she determines that it may be possible to use these former villains to actually do a little good for humanity. She sends these guys out on a series of suicide missions against some of DC’s worst in order to help combat an emerging (but, as yet unrevealed) threat.

Suicide Squad movie

6. Who is David Ayer?

You’ll likely never hear me say glowing things about Zack Snyder and a lot of decisions he’s made about the DCEU, but David Ayer’s inclusion in the proceedings is a real godsend. If you’re not familiar with his work — or you only heard of him after reading mediocre reviews for Fury — then just know that this guy has action running through his veins. At the helm, Ayer has piloted a series of films that mix pure character drama and high-adrenaline action (see: End of Watch, Collateral). In other words, he knows how to use an ensemble and he knows how to bring the violence.

David Ayer

7. Who Wrote It?

Here’s better news: David Ayer also wrote the thing. If you haven’t had the chance to see one of the films that Ayer has directed (seriously, go see End of Watch right now), then you’ve definitely delighted to one of his screenplays. Ayer is the mastermind who brought us The Fast and the Furious and who helped Denzel get his Oscar in Training Day. Ayer has spent his entire career working on action of various types, so the man knows what he’s doing.

Training Day

8. Batman is There (and For Good Reason)

We’ve known for some time that Ben Affleck’s Batman will appear in Suicide Squad, but what exactly he’s doing there is still a mystery. However, the prevailing theories seem to jive with the Dark Knight’s character. One rumor puts him in Amanda Waller’s office, expressing his concern about a team of superheroes. Then there’s the pics that put the Batman tracking down the Joker at one point in the film. Beyond that, the most common theory places the Caped Crusader as the man who actually brought down each member of the Suicide Squad, inadvertently putting them in position to be recruited.

Batman in Suicide Squad

9. The Joker Is There, Too

There’s already been a lot of conversation about Oscar winner Jared Leto’s tattooed take on the Joker. Like it or not, the film’s second trailer seems to allude to the fact that the film is very Joker-heavy. Given his relationship with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn (his former flame), that would seem to suggest Quinn will have a larger role as well. It appears as though Leto’s Joker is a full-fledged crazy person bent on spreading death and anarchy wherever he goes. In other words, don’t expect him to join the team at any point in the film. He’s straight big bad … but my gut says he won’t be the film’s biggest bad.

The Joker

10. Don’t Sleep On Joel Kinnaman

While most of the film’s footage has focused on the film’s bigger stars (Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto), there’s also good reason to be psyched about Joel Kinnaman’s addition to the cast. This guy has put in a solid decade on our shores racking up critically acclaimed TV roles in The Killing and House of Cards. In addition to that, he’s spent his time on the silver screen kicking all kinds of butt in both supporting roles and in 2014’s underrated RoboCop reboot. In short, Kinnaman has proven time and again that he’s both a believable action hero and a solid actor. And as team leader Rick Flag, you can bet the actor will have a larger role than the trailer reveals.

Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag

11. It’s Pretty Perfectly Cast

Okay, so the film is literally packed with Oscar winners and all-around talents (we’ve already hit on a few). However, the film’s cast really does bare extra mention. After Leto, the most heavily featured star has to be the excellent Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, the woman who broke out in Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street. There’s also up and coming actress/model Cara Delevingne as Enchantress who should be okay to look at even if she’s not that talented. In addition, the excellent Adam Beach (whose face you definitely know) as Slipknot and rapper-turned-wonderful-actor Common as Monster T.

Harley Quinn

12. No, It’s Really Perfectly Cast

Duh, Will Smith is in it! After a string of … let’s call them “non-classics” … Smith is on the comeback trail with a move he hasn’t made in years: joining an ensemble. It was almost unthinkable that Mr. “I don’t want to be in a Quentin Tarantino film because I’m not the star” would deign to be in an ensemble film, but there it is and it’s pretty darn exciting no matter how it happened. The underrated Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje will go full makeup for Killer Croc (but he’s charismatic enough to make it work), and Jay Hernandez — a talent who’s been bouncing around in the background for years — will get all tatted up to play El Diablo.


13. A DC Film That Doesn’t Take Itself Too Seriously

At the moment, there’s a rumor going around that Suicide Squad’s recent reshoots were done as a result of the studio requesting that Ayer inject more humor into the proceedings. They were supposedly ordered as a response to people accusing Batman v Superman for being too self-serious (which it is). So, don’t go in expecting a comedy, but you can at least count on Will Smith for a handful of solid one-liners.

The Suicide Squad

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