It already has a lot of similarities with Suicide Squad 2.
With news that fired Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 helmer James Gunn is writing, and possibly directing, the followup to Suicide Squad, we’re turning to the comics to see where Gunn might take Task Force X next. The report on Gunn’s big move from Marvel to DC said that Gunn isn’t doing a direct sequel as much as a revamping the property, and it’s unclear if the same cast will return.
With those details in mind, it’s hard to think of a better comic for Gunn to adapt than Suicide Squad: From the Ashes.
The story sees a new Suicide Squad come together with a batch of fresh recruits, which ties in nicely with Gunn’s mission. As the name implies, the Suicide Squad has a high turnover rate (i.e., fatality rate), which conveniently explains why many faces from the first installment would no longer be around. From the Ashes tells the story of how Rick Flag returned from the dead (because comics) and follows him as he rejoins Amanda Waller’s Task Force X with a new team lineup featuring the likes of Bronze Tiger, Plastique, and Count Vertigo.
While Gunn needn’t use the exact same roster as the comic, there’s a large pool of interesting characters from which he can cherry pick. And Gunn wouldn’t need to make Flag the focal point of the story like in the comic, either. Deadshot is also on the From the Ashes team, and it’d make sense to bring him back for the sequel not only because he’s a hallmark Suicide Squad member but because Will Smith’s Floyd Lawton was one of the highlights of the first film. Perhaps after serving Waller’s interests for a few years, he’ll have received a promotion to team leader, just in time for the sequel. Though Harley Quinn wasn’t a part of the Suicide Squad at the time From the Ashes was published, bringing back Margot Robbie to once again portray the immensely popular character is a no-brainer. She’s become the face of the current Suicide Squad comics, so this film could be seen as a melding of years of Suicide Squad comics — just like it could be a melding of what worked from the first movie and Gunn’s fresh ideas.
One signature Suicide Squad element missing from the first movie was the team’s MO for going on clandestine missions that a group of heroes like the Justice League wouldn’t even touch — assassinations, political sabotage, and that kind of unsavory stuff. From the Ashes is filled to the brim with those kinds of morally compromising decisions. Task Force X is sent on a mission to a foreign country in order to prevent the launch of a viral weapon, and then they’re confronted by an opposing team of metahumans who are just as formidable, unpredictable, and lethal as they are. Complicating matters are personal feuds between team members and a savage betrayal that upends the entire mission, not to mention the fact that when it comes to death, any character is fair game. Gunn has a penchant for taking damaged, selfish rogues and breaking them open to show what makes them tick, and then using that to create strong bonds between the characters and with the audience, which would make it all the more shocking when a character eventually bites the big one.
Most intriguing is how From the Ashes was essentially a relaunch of the Suicide Squad comic franchise within DC Comics. After ending his initial run in 1992, modern Suicide Squad creator John Ostrander was brought back to the title in 2007 to revamp the team, not unlike how Gunn is now coming in to revitalize the franchise. While Gunn is of course best left to his own devices and shouldn’t adapt From the Ashes page for page, the comic certainly makes for a great starting point because it shows how to pull off a soft reboot while still capturing the essence of Suicide Squad.
For our reaction to Gunn taking over Suicide Squad for DC, check out the video below:
Joshua is Senior Editor of IGN Comics. If Pokemon, Green Lantern, or Game of Thrones are frequently used words in your vocabulary, you’ll want to follow him on Twitter @JoshuaYehl and IGN.