What If The Suicide Squad Had Used A-List Batman Villains?

Task Force X was comprised of numerous anti-heroes in The Suicide Squad, but its roster could have been very different if the movie had featured A-list Batman villainsThe Suicide Squad, the latest installment in the DCEU, made full use of the DC Comics universe’s various supervillains to make to Task Force X strike teams, with one mostly serving as cannon fodder for comedic effect. Most casual viewers are unlikely to be familiar with most of the villains on both teams, aside from Captain Boomerang, who had a lead role in the original movie, and Harley Quinn, who’s starred in two other DCEU films and is an iconic DC character whose popularity goes beyond the films. The Suicide Squad would be a drastically different film if it only used A-list Batman foes.

Most of the villains in The Suicide Squad were quite obscure, with minor characters like Javelin (an Earth-based Green Lantern villain) and lead protagonists like Bloodspot (a Superman villain) making their live-action debuts. Some of the villains, like Ratcatcher 2 and Polka-Dot Man, are part of Batman’s rogues' gallery, albeit in extremely minor roles. Batman has one of the most iconic rogues' galleries in the superhero genre, with villains who have drastically different skills and abilities from the characters in The Suicide Squad. Luckily, many of these famous foes are referenced throughout the DCEU, confirming their existence in the continuity.

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Ben Affleck’s DCEU Batman is a seasoned superhero who’s fought crime in Gotham for decades. The first Suicide Squad film included Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Killer Croc, in addition to his arch-nemesis, The Joker. This suggests that an entirely Batman-centric Suicide Squad movie could, in theory at least, work well. However, given the iconic status of many of his opponents, there are limits to how the Batman Rogues Gallery could best be utilized in a future film. Here's what would likely happen if The Suicide Squad featured top-tier Batman villains.

Batman’s most famous villains include The Joker, The Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face Catwoman, Bane, Scarecrow, The Riddler, Clayface, Poison Ivy, and Raʼs al Ghul. While each of these villains features a distinct motif, background, personality, and set of skills, many ultimately amount to crime bosses with varying gimmicks, which limits their usefulness as a covert strike team for Amanda Waller. Two-Face and The Penguin are competent fighters who typically fight with firearms or other weapons, but The Riddler and Scarecrow are often shown to be weak physical combatants who rely on their intelligence, gadgetry, and hired enforcers when facing off against Batman and Robin. This automatically limits the pool of potential candidates, especially considering the kind of missions involved in The Suicide Squad.

However, while some of Batman's opponents lack the necessary skills, others would thrive in the Suicide Squad environment. For instance, the likes of Bane, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman, and Ra’s al Ghul are all extremely skilled fighters (in Freeze’s case, this is thanks to his armored suit and advanced cryogenic weaponry), making them versatile opponents. Poison Ivy and Clayface are both metahumans with superpowers that could have been extremely useful for Waller’s Corto Maltese mission. The Joker’s fighting prowess is inconsistent, but he’s often depicted as being able to match Batman in their fights, making him potentially one of the deadliest fighters in Batman’s rogues' gallery. Though these villains would make for a functionally different Suicide Squad team, they’d still likely complete Waller’s mission.

Part of the comedic appeal of The Suicide Squad was that most of the Task Force X villains were framed to be vital characters with whom the viewers would become gradually familiar with, only to have most die unceremoniously in the film’s opening scene. One of the film’s taglines was “don’t get too attached,” and the films reminded viewers of these even at the end when Polka-Dot Man was killed by Starro in a shockingly abrupt and brutal fashion. This would mean that most of the lineup of A-list Batman villains (which should include Harley Quinn and Killer Croc from the previous film) would have to die as well. As for who’d survive, that would probably be determined by their usefulness for the mission and marketability for future films.

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Considering that The Joker and Catwoman are some of the most iconic DC supervillains of all time, their survival is guaranteed, as would Harley Quinn’s considering her popularity (which might have spared her in the 2021 film as well). Ra’s al Ghul, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and Bane are extremely complex villains with useful abilities for the mission, making their survival likely as well. The Penguin, Two-Face, Scarecrow, The Riddler, Clayface, and Killer Croc would, unfortunately, have to die in either the opening battle or the fight against Starro at the end of the film. Given the status of these characters, this would clearly have serious consequences for the wider DCEU.

Having such iconic and beloved villains get killed off for the sake of comedy would, understandably, anger casual and hardcore Batman fans. Each A-list Batman villain is capable of being the sole antagonist of a Batman film as is (and many have already), so having most of them get unceremoniously killed off would feel like a waste of potentially exciting Batman stories and a callous dismissal of their importance to viewers. From an in-universe perspective, it wouldn’t make sense for Amanda Waller to use most of the A-list villains as diversionary cannon fodder, since most of them, even the villains who lack the skills to engage in direct combat, would be considered valuable assets. The often-underestimated Harley Quinn was put on the diversionary team, but her popularity among DC fans and her in-universe skills ultimately kept her alive.

For better or worse, this isn’t an issue when using “lesser” villains, like Savant or Blackguard, who are nowhere near as iconic as The Penguin or Riddler, and whose deaths didn’t cause significant controversy among fans. The DC Comics version of the various Suicide Squads did sometimes contain A-list villains but were generally comprised of the DC Universe’s more obscure criminals, making their survival less certain and their deaths less upsetting to readers. Harley Quinn was the sole A-list Batman villain in the 2021 film, surviving the opening battle, torture, and the fight against Starro, unsurprisingly. Having popular and marketable A-list Batman villains like Two-Face or Scarecrow join The Suicide Squad in the first place is a stretch in-universe, and having them die without an appearance in a DCEU Batman film would be wasteful, so the final film was right to use lesser-known villains.

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