Comic Book Casting: The SUICIDE SQUAD Live-Action Movie

Suicide Squad 2

There’s a popular idiom you often hear: “fight fire with fire.” What it means is that in many cases the best way to counter-attack against something is use similar means and tactics. That’s just what DC’s Suicide Squad does — using some of the world’s most dangerous super villains as a team of heroes to fight off an even bigger threat. Long before Marvel’s Thunderbolts, the Suicide Squad was the motley-est of crews, akin to a villainous Seven Samurai.

And with DC mounting up their movie slate, rumors have been swirling about a live-action rendition of the villains-turned-heroes, and he’s how it should be done.

The Concept:

What happens when the U.S. government has a mission that’s too dangerous for its troops, special forces, meta-human or otherwise? They need soldiers that are expendable, but with the talents to get the job done. And they look no further than the super villain penal system. Under the guidance of federal agent Amanda Waller, the Suicide Squad is a who’s who of who’s behind bars with the best of what’s available on the worst missions of all.

For a Suicide Squad movie, I’d pick and choose from the decades of Suicide Squad line-ups and themes to create a gestalt team doing a rendition of John Ostrander’s excellent “Phoenix Gambit” arc of the series. In that arc, Waller is released from prison after a previous mission went wrong and tasked to reformulate the team to stop a major league political conflict before it gets started. In the comic, a vague Eastern European country named Vlatava is undergoing upheaval and both the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union are sticking their fingers where some say they don’t belong. At the head of Vlatava is a long-time villain named Count Vertigo who claims leadership over the country by birthright, but doesn’t quite have the managerial skills to make it work. So Waller is given the keys to the Belle Reve Penitentiary to pick out a new team of villains to hammer into a workable team to bring Vertigo down.

Some of the storyline would have to be updated (or removed, in the case of Batman), but it’s a good template for a movie about the middle ground between being a hero and being a villain. By simply teasing earlier itterations of a Suicide Squad team and planting the idea Waller doesn’t always follow orders, it really builds some underlying conflict to be mined later on in the series.

The Director:

He’s one of the greatest modern action directors of our time, but he’s been out of fashion for over a decade. Die Hard director Renny Harlin had a string of flops culminating with Cutthroat Island, leaving him as an outsider in potential directors pools despite his immense experience. Putting him in charge of a Suicide Squad movie might be risky, but it’s also bold — the same thing needed to elevate what could be a meh Losers-type movie into something magical.

The Cast:

Amanda Waller – Octavia Spencer: She might have lost some weight in New 52, but Amanda Waller is a real heavyweight when it comes to bossing villains around. And Octavia Spencer, fresh off The Help and a great one-off performance in 30 Rock, would act as a great Amanda Waller and be the no-nonsense boss this group of (slightly) reformed criminals need.

Deadshot – Bobby Cannavale:Even at his worst in comics, Deadshot is a bad-ass. Putting him front and center in a Suicide Squad movie with Boardwalk Empire‘s Bobby Cannavale behind the mask would be an inspired bit of casting that could really open to the door to how he’s perceived by the movie-going masses. Maybe he’ll even grow a mustache.

Captain Cold – Jeff Bridges: Although not a Suicide Squad mainstay like Deadshot, Captain Cold served his time there for a bit and a Suicide Squad movie could be the next best thing to a Flash’s Rogues movie and Jeff Bridges as Captain Cold would be a positive scene stealer.

Harley Quinn – Amber Heard: Say what you will about the current Suicide Squad series and Harley’s depiction there, but putting her as part of the team is a great idea. Drive Angry‘s Amber Heard is a star waiting to be discovered, and casting her as Harley Quinn would be a great way to define the character in live-action for the first time.

Vixen – Freema Agyeman: Like Captain Cold she isn’t the first SS member you think of, but she too spent her time as part of the squad and would be a great twist to introduce this over-looked character in a villainous role, akin to Hawkeye’s origin in comics. Doctor Who alum Freema Agyeman would be an out of left field choice, but she has all the tools to make it work (and then some) and just needs more American attention.

Steel Wolf – Konstantin Lavronenko: Never heard of him? Neither did I until I saw the three-part BBC series Archangel with Daniel Craig. But Lavronenko’s role as the son of Joseph Stalin showed him as a great villain who can talk and has a big presence on screen. I’d pull him out of his motherland and into the Suicide Squad movie as Steel Wolf and amplify the character’s role to really flesh out the story.

Count Vertigo – Ryan Hurst: Probably the last person you’d imagine for this role, but if you add up Hurt’s dynamic range from Saving Private Ryan to Remember The Titans to his beard-wearing biker days in Sons of Anarchy, and there’s something big there below the surface. Currently f filming a movie based on the legendary punk club CBGB’s, seeing him cut his locks and step into the role of Count Vertigo would be something. One thing though — he doesn’t need a costume.


  1. Spencer’s an alright choice but I think Waller’d be best served by someone with a bit more natural gravitas like her Help co-star Viola Davis

  2. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it that all but two of these characters have already had live-action versions with Amanda Waller (Smallville,Green Lantern) and Deadshot (Smallville, Arrow) having two incarnations while Harley Quinn (Birds of Prey), Count Vertigo (Arrow), and Captain Cold (The Flash) having one each.

  3. Has anybody else noticed this articles lean towards DC movies (Static Shock, Legion of Superheroes,)? I like the casting overall, Ryan Hurst was awesome on “SOA” and he deserves some more movie recognition. One thing tho; Captain Cold played by Jeff Bridges? I’m worried that Jeff might be too old, and that Captain Cold wouldn’t have much to do with Deadshot already on the team (unless you want Cold to have his ice powers like in the New 52). Maybe replace him with the Trixster or Heatwave or maybe even Pied Piper to mix up the team’s strengths.

    • I think its probably because DC doesn’t but should have a slew of movies coming out about a bunch of characters and concepts that seem ripe for adaptation. Doing this for Marvel wouldn’t be as fun because they might very well announce an Iron Fist movie or something a few months for all we know; doing it for Image or the indie-publishers might be a fun exercise but those are a crap shoot in terms of getting made.

    • That’s a good point, I’m actually enjoying it because I’m reading mostly DC right now. Marvel is kind of being predictable with their movie slate tho aside from “GoG”. It’d be nice to see Iron Fist, Moon Knight, or maybe even Simon Garth films. Maybe DC could bring in a larger group for their animated films to take pressure off Bruce Timm and crank out some movies that aren’t Batman or Superman.

  4. Holy shit, Freema Agyeman would be perfect for Vixen!

  5. Jeff Bridges as Captain Cold? I’m not seeing it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Dude, but I always pictured Len Snart as someone more…well, cold. Someone who’s very strict, very emotionless. I think Bridges could pull it off, I just don’t think people would buy into him being that bad of a guy.

    Otherwise, very good casting here. I feel like the Squad would really be at home in a DC Animated Feature, but since Batman or Superman aren’t on their roster, that’s not likely to happen.

  6. sounds good, but come on you can’t have the squad with out Boomer!