Suicide Squad is really a historic movie in terms of the comic book movie genre. It is the first time in modern, mainstream cinema that a studio has delivered a comic book adaptation focused entirely on villains. This is surprising, since villainous characters are usually more interesting than their heroic counterparts – and the villains of the DC comic book universe, in particular, are deeply compelling. But, recent comments from Suicide Squad star Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje suggest it will be groundbreaking for another reason.
The actor plays the role of Killer Croc – also known as Waylon Jones – who is a social outcast, having been born with a genetic problem that causes him to develop scaly skin and features. Residing largely in the sewers of Gotham, he’s known to eat people and plot against Batman. But, in a film featuring supervillains as protagonists, Suicide Squad seems to tell the stories of these characters – who are usually relatively thinly drawn supporting parts in the tales of heroes.
Suicide Squad includes The Joker and Harley Quinn, so Killer Croc is hardly likely to take up much of centre stage. During a press day on set, however, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje explained to IGN that his supporting status does not mean anybody skimped on the villain’s backstory, though.
“We’re not about just making this beast. We’re making a being. He’s somewhat tortured and abused from his childhood. It dictates his reactions, from him wanting to go underground. He’s always been ostracized and ridiculed for how he looks. What he’s done is embrace that. Instead of saying ‘I’m ugly’, he’s says ‘I’m beautiful’. Instead of going underground as if he’s hiding, he says ‘this is my kingdom’. He’s kind of reversed some of his childhood abuse into allowing him to become what he is, which is really the next threat to take over Gotham. That’s really what his ultimate goal is. One of the reasons is probably because obviously power, respect but people liking him. And if you don’t, you’re going to have to if he’s got power. So all of those elements play into it.
The complexity of Killer Croc will be demonstrated by his interactions with other living creatures, and by his surprising artistic endeavours, according to Akinnuoye-Agbaje. This humanity, balanced with his predatory, homicidal, cannibalistic nature will create a layered character study amid the villainous group.
“I think it’s pretty much how he expresses himself. He’s very primal, carnal. He’s a creature. And those felines, those are his brethren. And so, if he’s making sculptures that reflect that, it may be a pet that he may have had when he was a child. Things like that. He’s very creative. Again, another aspect that you’re going to see to him, just when you think you’ve got him pegged, he does something very surprising and makes these beautiful sculpted pieces. It’s a testament to the gentle, creative side of him. David [Ayer, the director] is very much about bringing that out and juxtaposing it with the visceral, viscous, barbaric creature that he has to be when he needs to be.”
Make no mistake, this is an aspect of Suicide Squad that lends itself to a tale that re-defines a genre. Killer Croc promises to be a detailed, multi-faceted character, rather than a simple, monstrous figure – and with a performer of Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s calibre filling the iconic killer’s scaly skin, we can be assured of the depth of his portrayal.
Suicide Squad is released on August 5th, 2016.