We’re less than a month from the release of David Ayer’s bad versus evil mega blockbuster Suicide Squad, and in anticipation of this wicked comic book movie, we thought we’d break down what we know about the film and it’s crazy list of characters in the coming weeks.
While audiences will easily be won over by the appearance of Jared Leto as The Joker and Margot Robbie as the deranged Harley Quinn, my attention has turned to the wild card of the group: non-villain Colonel Rick Flag, a Special Forces operator and right hand man to Task Force X’s mastermind Amanda Waller, who will be played in the film by rising talent Joel Kinnaman.
Originally introduced to the comic books in 1959 by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru, before writer John Ostrander acquired him for his critically lauded rival of the Suicide Squad, Rick Flag Jr was a dedicated soldier recruited to Task Force X by Amanda Waller. Although somewhat of a blunt and efficient instrument, Flag took deep personal issues with Waller’s orders and was also blindsided by his love for fellow Squad mate Karin Grace, as well as his feelings for super villain Nightshade.
Flag was a complex character through the book’s entire run, performing well in executing Waller’s will while falling into fits of despair at the horrors and atrocities that he was forced to sign off on. Flag’s single biggest story moment came when he set out to destroy the supervillain terrorist group known as The Jihad, who were trying to utilise a Nazi era nuclear bomb. Flag would slew his way through the terrorists and confront its leader Rustam, with both characters seemingly dying in a blast as they fought to the death.
But given that no one ever really dies in comics, Flag was found to have escaped the blast before being captured, and was then rescued by Task Force X member Bronze Tiger in ‘Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag’. Given the choice to resign by his superiors he chose not to, uttering that the Suicide Squad will always ‘need a Rick Flag’.
Flag’s appearance in Ayer’s film is cause for excitement, especially in the way that it is likely to break up the narrative. While you have a crew of out-for-themselves villains, and a puppet master like Waller who has her own grand schemes, Flag is likely to be the everyman character who will work towards the greater good. The various trailers and publicity materials have shown that he’ll have a healthy dislike for Will Smith’s Floyd Lawton/Deadshot, and that he appears to have had a past relationship with Cara Delevinge’s sweet archeologist June Moon, who is later possessed by the entity known as The Enchantress.
While British thespian Tom Hardy had initially signed on for the role, he had to relinquish it due to scheduling conflicts with The Revenant (something he was publically displeased by). Jake Gyllenhaal was said to have passed on the role, while Jon Bernthal and Joel Edgerton were also in the running after Hardy’s departure. But in the end, it would be Kinnaman who earned a spot on the Squad, and based on the footage we’ve seen so far he is really holding his own.
I for one am happy that Kinnaman won the job. He’s an actor who has made bold choices throughout his career including roles in the Easy Money trilogy, Robocop, The Killing and a recent appearance in House of Cards. I myself always thought that Hardy’s casting was a bit too on the nose, and with Kinnaman I think we’ve got an actor who can make the character his own, projecting a man who is not only imposing and tough, but who has a great deal of vulnerability, especially in relation to his romance with June Moon.
Kinnaman looks the part as well, standing at an imposing 6’2, and he reportedly underwent rigorous firearms and combat training with the likes of ex-Navy SEALs to get into character.
Kinnaman will have his work cut out for him as Rick Flag, with his responsibility to wrangle this twisted collection of criminals, crazies, and psychopaths that make up Task Force X. But armed to the teeth and boasting a ‘take no shit’ attitude, he’s all but guaranteed to complete his mission.
Suicide Squad opens on August 4 in New Zealand and Australia and on August 5 in the US and the UK.