The Suicide Squad is a fictional team of antiheroes that was first published in its modern iteration by DC Comics in the late '80s. The group of incarcerated supervillains undertakes high-risk black ops missions in exchange for either parole, work release or reduced prison sentences. They made their long-awaited screen debut in a 2016 film, which, despite negative reviews, won an Academy Award (for best makeup and hairstyling) and raked in $746 million at the global box office, making it the 10th highest grossing film that year. When Warner Bros. announced a sequel, they decided to take the franchise in a new direction with the help of "Guardians of the Galaxy" helmer James Gunn. In doing so, the film's stacked ensemble welcomed an array of new faces to join returning star Margot Robbie. With "The Suicide Squad" hitting theaters and streaming platform HBO Max on Aug. 5, 2021, join Wonderwall.com as we take a look at who's playing the comic book favorites.
Margot Robbie returns as Harley Quinn, marking her third big-screen appearance as the beloved villain following 2016's "Suicide Squad" and 2020's "Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)." The character was first introduced in the '90s as a love interest for the Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series." In the films, she's a crazed criminal and former psychiatrist who counts the Joker as one of her patients. The pair eventually fell in love and became partners in crime, but it wasn't long before she headed out on her own misadventures. After Batman captured her after a car crash, she was incarcerated and recruited to join the Suicide Squad.
Margot Robbie got her start on the Australian soap opera "Neighbours" in 2008 and the short-lived ABC drama series "Pan Am" in 2011. The Aussie actress had her breakthrough in 2013 with Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and immediately got booked in high-profile features like 2015's "Focus" and 2016's "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" and "The Legend of Tarzan." Also in 2016, she was booked as Harley Quinn in the first "Suicide Squad" film, which turned her into one of Hollywood's biggest box office draws. Margot then moved into more critically acclaimed fare, such as 2017's "I, Tonya," 2018's "Mary, Queen of Scots" and 2019's "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood" and "Bombshell." In doing so, she racked up nominations for two Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards and five BAFTA Awards. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2017 and she was ranked among the world's highest paid actresses by Forbes in 2019. The actress-producer is married to British filmmaker Tom Ackerley, with whom she founded the production company LuckyChap Entertainment, under which they produced the Oscar-nominated 2020 film "Promising Young Woman."
Idris Elba joins "Suicide Squad" as Bloodsport after he was originally cast as Deadshot with the intention of having him take over for Will Smith, who starred in the 2016 film. He was soon given a new role to allow Will the opportunity to return down the road. Bloodsport debuted as an adversary of Superman in the comics in the '80s. This marks the first big-screen appearance for Bloodsport, aka Robert DuBois, a Black British mercenary armed with a high-tech suit and weapons that only he can use. He's serving time in prison for shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet when he's forced to join the Suicide Squad. For Bloodsport, it becomes an opportunity to shorten his sentence and reunite with daughter Tyla, portrayed by "Euphoria" star Storm Reid. Director James Gunn described the character to Den of Geek as an unsentimental portrayal of a '60s action hero like Steve McQueen, without the "moral repercussions" of those characters.
Idris Elba spent a decade guest starring on numerous British television shows before landing his first prominent part — he starred on the acclaimed HBO drama series "The Wire" from 2002 to 2004. He then snagged roles in feature films like "Daddy's Little Girls," "28 Weeks Later," "American Gangster," "Prom Night," "Obsessed" and "The Losers" before landing the titular role on the hit BBC crime series "Luther," which is still running after more than a decade. The incredible response to his work on "Luther" led to box office success stories such as the "Thor" trilogy, "Prometheus," "Pacific Rim," "Star Trek Beyond" and "Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw." Idris also lent his voice to the animated features "Zootopia," "Finding Dory" and "The Jungle Book" and made headlines, for better of worse, for his work in the film version of the musical "Cats." Aside from acting, he also performs as a DJ under the moniker DJ Big Driis and as an R&B musician. He's won a Golden Globe Award and has been nominated for five Primetime Emmys. In 2016, he was named to Time magazine's list of the most influential people in the world. Idris has also become one of the highest grossing actors in the industry with his films bringing in more than $9.8 billion at the global box office.
John Cena is a welcome addition as Peacemaker, a ruthless, patriotic killer who believes in achieving peace at any cost. The character first appeared in comics in the '60s before DC Comics acquired the character for his own series two decades later. The Peacemaker's real name is Christopher Smith, a pacifist diplomat willing to use force as a superhero who eventually becomes a deadly vigilante who kills at the slightest notice. Director James Gunn told told the wrestler-turned-actor not to read any Peacemaker comics before filming and the star told Den of Geek that he originally approached the role with an "angular, drill sergeant, 'Full Metal Jacket'-esque personality" before he was told to act like a "douchey, bro-y Captain America" instead. A Peacemaker spinoff series has already been shot for streaming platform HBO Max and is set to air in 2022.
John Cena got his start in the world of wrestling, signing with World Wrestling Entertainment in 2001 and leading the company as its franchise player and public face in the decade that followed. He's widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time and is tied for the most world championship reigns in professional wrestling history. Starting in 2006, the Massachusetts native began making the move into acting, starring in the WWE-produced films "The Marine," "12 Rounds" and "Legendary." He then branched out from his wrestling bosses with parts in the hit comedies "Trainwreck" and "Sisters." Since then, he's continued wrestling professionally on a freelance basis while also starring in a number of box office successes such as 2017's "Daddy's Home 2," 2018's "Blockers" and "Bumblebee" and 2019's "Playing With Fire." In 2021, he joined the "Fast & Furious" universe as a part of the cast of "F9" and became one of the new hosts of the game show "Wipeout."
Viola Davis is back as Amanda Waller, a former congressional aide and government agent who eventually becomes the director for the Suicide Squad's deadly missions. First introduced by DC Comics in the late '80s, she's also a specialist who oversees research into people with powers using guile, political connections and sheer intimidation to achieve her goals, often in the name of national security. Pam Grier and Angela Bassett have played Amanda in previous on-screen works, but Viola secured the part for the 2016 film and is returning for a second round of action.
Viola Davis got her start in the theater and racked up a series of small roles on television and in films like "Out of Sight," "Traffic," "Ocean's Eleven," "Kate & Leopold" and "Far From Home" before winning a Tony Award for her work in the 2001 Broadway production of August Wilson's "King Hedley II." She was already an acting veteran when her major breakthrough came in 2008 with an Academy Award-nominated performance in the film "Doubt." The South Carolina native has found incredible success in the years since, winning a 2010 Tony for her performance in a revival of August Wilson's play "Fences" and receiving both an Oscar nomination and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her work in 2011's "The Help." She moved to television with a six-season run on the ABC drama series "How to Get Away with Murder," becoming the first Black woman to win a Primetime Emmy for best lead actress in a drama series. Viola then reprised her role in the film adaptation of "Fences," winning an Academy Award. More recently, she garnered acclaim for her lead performance in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," for which she earned her fourth Oscar nomination. She is now the most nominated Black actress in the history of the Academy Awards and the first Black actress to have been nominated for best actress more than once. Viola and husband Julius Tennon are the founders of the production company JuVee Productions. In 2020, The New York Times ranked her ninth on its list of the 25 greatest actors of the 21st century.
Jai Courtney once again plays Captain Boomerang, an unhinged Australian thief who wields — you guessed it — boomerangs. The villain first appeared in the "The Flash" comics of the early '60s and joined the Suicide Squad stories three decades later. In the first film, Captain Boomerang is forced to join the team of antiheroes after being captured by the Flash amidst an attempted diamond heist. In a 2020 interview with Collider, Jai said that the character has not changed since the events of the 2016 film and remains "the same s***bag liability we came to learn about in the first one. He's out there causing trouble as you would expect."
Like co-star Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney got his start in his native Australia, appearing in several short films and the TV series "Packed to the Rafters." He then scored a major role on Starz's historical epic "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" and landed parts in big-budget action flicks "Jack Reacher" in 2012 and "A Good Day to Die Hard" in 2013. His run of major features continued with 2014's "I, Frankenstein," 2015's "Terminator Genisys" and the "Divergent" film series. In 2016, he made the move into comic book adaptations when he booked the role of Captain Boomerang in the first "Suicide Squad" movie. The next year, Jai branched out into theater, starring as the titular character in the Melbourne Theatre Company's production of "Macbeth." More recently, he's appeared in films like 2019's "Alita: Battle Angel" and "Semper Fi," 2020's "Buffaloed" and "Honest Thief" and 2021's "Jolt."
Sylvester Stallone won't actually be seen in "The Suicide Squad," but fans will be able to hear his voice as King Shark. The man-eating fish-human hybrid is a fully CGI character working among the live-action cast with a design based on a great white shark. King Shark made his first comic book appearance in the early '90s as an adversary for Aquaman. He was brought into the Suicide Squad storyline in 2011 and when he received the demands from Amanda Waller, he ended up eating his teammate. The character was originally set to appear in the 2016 film, but director David Ayer decided against it when he realized he would have to be entirely CGI. But James Gunn, the man behind the camera of the new film, tweeted in 2021 that he decided to give King Shark a dad bod to make him look less like a mammal as well as small eyes, a big mouth and a small head to avoid the "cute anthropomorphic beast" design seen in popular characters like Baby Groot from his "Guardians of the Galaxy" films and Baby Yoda from "The Mandalorian."
Sylvester Stallone is a Hollywood legend known for his work as an actor, screenwriter, director and producer since he broke out in 1974's "The Lords of Flatbush." Shortly after, he achieved his greatest critical and commercial success as an actor with the self-created role of boxer Rocky Balboa in the first film in the successful "Rocky" series, which kicked off in 1976. He received two Academy Awards for his work and the first "Rocky" film was inducted into the National Film Registry, plus props from the film were placed in the Smithsonian Museum. The New York City-born star also found success as PTSD-plagued soldier John Rambo in the "Rambo" film series in the '80s. He spent the following decade as one of Hollywood's highest paid actors, starring in a slew of commercially successful action flicks like "Cobra," "Tango and Cash," "Cliffhanger," "Demolition Man" and "The Specialist." Sly struggled to match that level of success in the early '00s, but that changed with new installments in both the "Rocky" and "Rambo" franchises followed by the 2010 hit "The Expendables," which launched an additional two sequels. His renewed success continued with the hit "Escape Plan" movies and the "Creed" films, which are spinoffs of the "Rocky" series. The first "Creed" earned him a Golden Globe Award and a third Academy Award nomination. Sylvester is the only actor in the history of U.S. cinema to star in a No. 1 film at the box office across five consecutive decades.
Joel Kinnaman rounds out the returning stars as Rick Flag, a Special Forces officer hired by Amanda Waller to lead the Suicide Squad during field missions, a role he reluctantly assumes in the comics. Rick Flag was first introduced by DC Comics in 1959, with both his son and his grandson (all named Rick Flag) taking over duties in various storylines in the decades that followed. For the 2016 film, "The Dark Knight Rises" star Tom Hardy was originally set to play the character, but scheduling conflicts with his Oscar-nominated turn in "The Revenant" forced him to drop out of the role. Joel was then able to claim the part and is now taking part in his second superhero film as a rebooted version of Rick. In a 2021 interview with Comic Book Resources, he explained that the new movie was an opportunity to give the character a blank slate and described this version of Rick as sillier, funnier and less jaded than his portrayal in the first "Suicide Squad" movie.
Joel Kinnaman started acting in his home country of Sweden, doing some work as a child actor and appearing in a number of Swedish films and plays as a young adult before snagging his first lead role in the 2010 crime-thriller "East Money." The success of that movie led him to hire an agent in the States who helped him book his international breakthrough on the acclaimed AMC drama series "The Killing," which ran for four seasons from 2011 to 2014. He next appeared in films like "Safe House," "Lola Versus," "Run All Night," "Child 44" and in the titular role in the 2014 "RoboCop" reboot. Joel then returned to television with parts on the Netflix shows "House of Cards" and "Altered Carbon" as well as the Amazon Prime program "Hanna." He's starred as NASA astronaut Ed Baldwin on the Apple TV+ original space-drama series "For All Mankind" since 2019. Joel's also spent the last few years working in a slew of films such as 2019's "The Informer" and 2020's "The Secrets We Keep" and "Brothers by Blood." In 2021, he also co-starred on season 4 of HBO's rebooted drama series "In Treatment" opposite Uzo Aduba.
David Dastmalchian joins the Suicide Squad as Polka-Dot Man, a metahuman with the ability to spawn energy-filled polka dots from his body who wears a special suit with gauntlets to help him focus his powers. He was introduced in the comics in 1962 as an "experiment gone wrong"-turned-criminal in a polka-dot suit who becomes a minor enemy of Batman. The character was known to use the spots on his costume for a variety of purposes, such as creating deadly weapons and as a bizarre escape vehicle. Director James Gunn explained to Total Film that he "needed a character who's thought of as one of the dumbest ever," adding, "I went and looked online, 'Who's the dumbest DC character of all time?' and it was Polka-Dot Man. We've turned that character who's a sad, pathetic character into a character who's depressed because people think he's stupid. He has a very tragic story that you learn about throughout the film — to be able to add depth to characters who are thought of as the silliest is a fun thing for me to do."
David Dastmalchian's acting career began in the theater in Chicago where he received acclaim for lead roles in productions of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" and Sam Shepard's "Buried Child." He actually made his feature film debut in a comic book adaptation, playing the Joker's deranged henchman in the 2008 blockbuster "The Dark Knight." That led to parts in movies like 2012's "Sushi Girl" and 2013's "The Employer" and "Prisoners." In 2014, the Philadelphia native was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Courage in Storytelling at the South by Southwest Film Festival for writing and starring in the drug-addiction drama "Animals," which was based on his own sobriety journey. The following year, he had a part in another superhero moneymaker, the Paul Rudd-starring "Ant-Man," and also appeared in the 2018 sequel "Ant-Man and The Wasp." Since then, he's been seen in movies like "Blade Runner 2049," "Bird Box" and "A Million Little Pieces" as well as on TV shows like "The Flash," "Gotham," "MacGyver," "Twin Peaks" and "Reprisal." David will next hit the big screen in the highly anticipated sci-fi epic "Dune."
Daniela Melchior is another new member of the team — Ratcatcher, who got her name because of her special ability to communicate with and train rats, something she inherited from her father. The original Ratcatcher made his comic debut in 1988 as an enemy of Batman who unleashed hordes of vermin to plague Gotham City on more than one occasion. The character is also known for wielding a gas gun that can manipulate various things with cyanide gas. In an interview with IGN, director James Gunn described Ratcatcher as being among the most important characters in the sequel, calling her "the heart of the film."
"The Suicide Squad" marks the first major studio role for Daniela Melchior, who's mainly worked in Portuguese films and television up to this point. She started her career starring in a number of hit telenovelas like "Mulheres," "Ouro Verde," "A Herdeira" and "Valor da Vida" before making her first big screen appearance in the 2018 drama "The Black Book." That same year, she also appeared in the film "Parque Mayer" and provided the Portuguese voice for Gwen Stacy in the animated film "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." Now international audiences will finally get a chance to experience her talents when she makes her English-language theatrical movie debut as Ratcatcher.
Michael Rooker is a new recruit as Savant, a vigilante computer hacker. He was first brought into the comics in 2003 as a spoiled heir to an enormous fortune who turns to crime after he's spurned by Batman. Savant is also easily recognizable by his long and flowing white hair, which Michael admitted to Inverse was a huge selling point in taking the tole. "My hair is curly, but to get to play a character with long straight hair, that was my dream come true," he told the outlet. "And James Gunn wrote it! I told him I always wanted to have straight hair, and that's why he put me in this character."
Michael Rooker is a veteran character actor who made his film debut in 1986 with the title role in "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," which is based on the confessions of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. The warm reception for his work led to dramatic turns in the films "Eight Men Out," "Mississippi Burning" and "JFK," but he became widely known for his roles in action and thriller flicks like "Sea of Love," "Days of Thunder," "Cliffhanger" and "Tombstone." He also starred in "Mallrats," "Rosewood," "The 6th Day," "Slither," "Jumper," "Super" and "Hypothermia." The Alabama native is also known for his endless list of television guest appearances, which include the shows "The Outer Limits," "CSI: Miami," "JAG," "Crossing Jordan," "Law & Order," "Chuck," "Criminal Minds," "Psych" and "True Detective." He received a major break when he was cast as Merle Dixon on the first three seasons of the TV hit "The Walking Dead," which then led to a role in both "Guardians of the Galaxy" films. In 2021, Michael joined the "Fast & Furious" universe with the sequel "F9." Now fans have a lot to look forward to when "The Suicide Squad" hits theaters. "[It's] massive. James Gunn is at his best. He loves massive sets with all these different characters, everything going at once," Michael told Inverse. "You can't even compare it with the first one. Absolutely not. It is just out of this world."