WHO WILL BE THE SUICIDE SQUAD’S BREAKOUT STAR??
Superhero movies have dominated the summer blockbuster season for the last one hundred years and one thing I’ve learned about them over the course of my intense and unbiased study is that there’s always a breakout character in these things.
What does it mean to be a breakout character in one of these movies? It means that, while you may not be the titular character or a character that’s heavily featured in the trailers and other promotional advertising/products, you’re a character who becomes a hit with the fans after they’ve walked out of the theater. Most of the time that means you get some funny lines or other times it means you do something that’s super violent but like, in a fun way or in a “Boromir gets shot by a million arrows” way. It varies, but it always ends with you, a one-time also-ran, turning into a fan-favorite.
Examples: Remember when no one would shut the fuck up about Groot? Remember how when The Avengers came out no one could remember what exactly even happened during that movie, but we all remembered watching the Hulk fuck up some aliens or whatever? They get the good moments. Those are breakout characters.
After a promotion cycle that has lasted as what can only be described as “a lifetime” Suicide Squad is finally coming out in August, which brings us to the question of who will claim the title of Breakout Character. But with so many stars all vying to be outrageous and unique, how are we to know? This ensemble cast has the makings of those first weeks of American Idol (RIP) where the talentless, the delusional, and the attention-seekers are mixed in with the real talent. On top of that, no one really knows who the breakout character is until you see the movie, but whatever, I’ll take a guess anyway because it’s nice to feel confident every now and then, and it’s doubly nice if you end up right. Let’s make some predictions!
Let’s start with the obvious red herring here. There’s been a lot of eye-rolling at the ridiculous ways Jared Leto’s been um… getting into character… for this role, and wow, you can just feel how badly he wants to build on Heath Ledger’s Joker and really make it his own. He can’t wait to hear you all talk about how amazing his transformation was. Which, I guess that’s fair, what else are you supposed to do when you’re cast as The Joker? For the record, I don’t mind Leto’s gaudy, nouveau riche take on the Joker, but like a popular high school mean girl/boy, I can smell his desperation a mile away, and it’s cute, it’ll make someone else really happy someday.
Breakout potential: Low
While he may very well provide a fun take that still keeps in the spirit of the character, this character has been around for 76 years and I highly doubt that Jared Leto of all people has anything new to say about it.
IDK is Margot Robbie having a breakout year? I feel like everyone is insisting that she is, right? But let’s check the scoreboard: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (didn’t see it, but I heard it was bad), The Legend of Tarzan (didn’t see it, but I can imagine how well a Tarzan remake in 2016 turned out), that widely-ridiculed and openly horny Vanity Fair profile (I don’t know her personally but I’m sure she deserved better). We’ll say that the results are inconclusive, but Suicide Squad could be it, this could be her chance! Except it won’t happen. She’s like the face of this fucking movie (kind of a dick move, considering it’s an ensemble, but it’s definitely not her fault): everybody knows that she’s in this movie, it’s like we were born into this world with that information, and that almost always undercuts a character’s breakout potential.
Breakout Potential: Low to Medium
That “almost” is pretty key, though, because I don’t know, what if she’s really good? What if she’s not just Hot Topic product placement? There’s a chance that this could be a hiding in plain sight type of situation. Margot Robbie isn’t terrible and she looks like she’s having a good time. God, could you imagine — what if she’s funny? Hot people playing at funny and actually being funny is rare and totally disrespectful, but not impossible. (More often you’ll get the funny person who becomes a recognized hot person, but a hot person revealing that they’re funny is much more wild.) I don’t think she’ll be the breakout character, but I’m willing to be wrong. We should all treat Margot Robbie better, she seems nice. OH! SIDENOTE: IS MARGOT ROBBIE A LADY PARALLEL TO CHRIS HEMSWORTH?? ARE HOT AUSTRALIANS HAVING A MOMENT?? JK THEY’RE ALWAYS HAVING A MOMENT THEY’RE HOT AUSTRALIANS.
I have no idea what this character’s going to be all about and my only knowledge of Jay Hernandez is that he was in Crazy/Beautiful (didn’t see it) and Takers (It was on Netflix once and my roommates and I tried to watch it 10 minutes at a time. I think we did it for 3 days, and I don’t remember if Jay Hernandez is even in that first 30 minutes of movie).
Breakout Potential: Low
Going off the trailers, El Diablo’s story seems like it’s going to be kind of a self-serious bummer that they’re going to try to force into comedic moments. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Will Smith seems to be the one doing the forcing so hopefully he’ll be doing most of the heavy lifting and Jay Hernandez can just, I don’t know, pout wherever appropriate.
I’m just going to say this as plainly as I can: Will Smith is not the breakout character. He’s just not. You don’t get Will Smith because you’re taking a risk. You don’t get Will Smith to sneak up on audiences with something unexpected. You get Will Smith because he’s a guaranteed commodity. He’s already a star and he knows what he’s doing. He knows how to entertain audiences and how to rake in millions for the studio. He’s a consummate professional who knows that his job is to get in, get out, make some jokes and maybe make you feel some feelings on the way. He’ll look good doing it. He’ll probably even have a chance at making all the other people around him seem like they know what they’re doing. If these actors were the Suicide Squad, he’d be Rick Flag.
Breakout potential: Low
He’s already broken out. He’s been broken out. Making him the breakout character would just be greedy at this point.
What can be said about Jai Courtney that you haven’t already slept through? This will be roughly the 5 millionth chance that boring old Jai Courtney gets at being an action star, and he’s gonna blow it like he has all those other times.
But wait– what’s that sound? It sounds like cautious optimism… it sounds like… a beer opening?
Holy shit is Jai Courtney going to be funny in this movie? Has Jai Courtney up ’til now been completely misused in every single action movie he’s been in? I’m working off a single gif and a couple of trailers, but seeing Jai Courtney steal a sip of beer like a shitty teen at his parents’ dinner party has me excited* (*managing my expectations) for his role as Captain Boomerang. His playing around with dirtbag Chester A. Arthur facial hair vibes is like icing on a melted ice cream cake.
Breakout potential: Medium to High
The expectations are low, so the payoff will hopefully be big. Captain Boomerang has some key characteristics of a breakout character: it looks like he’s going to be comedic relief (but who knows if ol’ Jai can do actually funny and not just “well we’re laughing because he’s supposed to be the funny one”), and being the team coward there’s potential for a redemptive arc or one that confirms he’s a shitbag in a fun way (my money’s on shitbag, but in a way that accidentally benefits the te–– oh my god am I speculating about the events of a superhero movie I’m so sorry I assure you I’m not usually like this I’d rather be dead).
I don’t know anything about Karen Fukuhara but according to her IMDB page no one else really does either. Characters built around martial arts are always fun, I think, but I can’t really think of a martial arts character that’s been a breakout in these superhero movies.
Breakout potential: Medium
The biggest thing that Karen Fukuhara has going for her in terms of breakout potential is how no one has any clue what her deal is. We see her for like maybe five seconds in the trailers and she’s doing some shit with a sword, but big deal. Everyone with a sword in an action movie trailer does some shit with a sword. It’s what you do when you have a sword. What’s got me wondering is the fact that there isn’t much of her in the trailer. Are they holding off, taking care not to spoil some really cool moments with Katana? Or is her character a pretty standard bad guy with sympathetic reasons for being a bad guy? One path has breakout potential, the other is a one way road to Who Gives A Shit County, USA. Cool costume though, I guess?
Are we about done trying to make Cara Delevingne happen? I’m probably being unfair I guess, seeing as how Pan and Paper Towns only happened last year, but I feel like Cara Delevingne has been everywhere lately. She’s in movies, she’s in glossy model pictures and ads, she’s got a famous person instagram where she makes dumb faces (idk if you know this but supermodels can be goofy too! Like us! But from a different place of pain!), she’s at Taylor Swift’s parties, she’s everywhere. No one was demanding Cara Delevingne star in movies, Cara Delevingne doesn’t even look like she was demanding to star in movies, so why do we keep insisting on making this happen? You don’t have to do this, Cara! You don’t need this! Is someone forcing you to do this? Blink twice if someone is forcing you to do this. We just want you to be safe. We just want our sweet baby girl back.
Breakout Potential: What were we talking about? Oh, uh, yeah sorry. Low. Uh… yeah, it’s low.
If you seriously think that this chump is going to be the breakout character I hope you keep it to yourself. I hope you keep it to yourself and you watch the movie and when he dies in the first act to show how ruthless someone is I hope you feel ashamed. I hope you keep your feelings about this character a deep secret, and I hope that secret eats away at you for the rest of your life.
Breakout Potential: Fuck you.
I’m gonna go out there and get bold with this one. I think Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc has potential to be the next Groot. So far these trailers have him looking like big, dumb muscle, which on the surface seems predictable, but let’s look at some possible ways to go with the big, dumb muscle. You could go the “what you see is what you get” route, which is boring, but it could lead to some fun action moments, or you could go a gentle giant route for some Green Mile vibes, or just lean into him being a dumb guy like that episode of the Batman cartoon.
Breakout Potential: High
There’s not a lot to go on with the trailers, but I think there are some nice possibilities in play. Killer Croc might be fun and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje could be a big star, so big that you won’t even need to copy and paste his name when you write about him, you’ll just know like how you know Schwarzenegger and McConaughey, and if I’m wrong then who cares it’s not like I’m getting paid for this* (*I am open to getting paid for this though, if someone reading this wants to support my art).
Here’s why it’s not going to happen: Tom Hardy was supposed to have this role. He signed on and then he dropped out because of a scheduling conflict with The Revenant and now we’ve got Joel Kinnaman. This may be the biggest downgrade in modern superhero movies since Iron Man 2. I’m sure it will be fine the same way it’s fine when you go to get a haircut but your usual guy isn’t there, so you figure why not, I’ll try someone else, I’m sure these other guys are good too, my haircut isn’t that complicated, and so the other guy cuts your hair and takes too long doing it because he’s one of those chatty barbers, and when he’s done everything’s a little off, the front part of your cut is shorter than how you like it, the sideburns are a little crooked and he didn’t fade the back the way you like, and he looks at you and he says “There you go, all set! What do you think?” and you want to scream “NO, NO WE ARE NOT ALL SET, YOU’VE RUINED ME” but you just want to go home instead so you grit your teeth and say “It’s great, thank you.”
Oh shit, now this is what I’m talking about. Amanda Waller has breakout written all over her–– it’s probably cheating to even include her on this list, but so what? I’m expecting big things from this character, and I’m reasonably sure I’m going to get them because of six words: I. Liked. Viola. Davis. In. Blackhat.
Viola Davis is hands down the best at playing a no nonsense authority figure who’s telling you how it’s going to be (Hint: it’s going to be her way). Plus, while she’s surrounded by these characters who are acting out and who have their own wild shtick, I have a feeling that her shtick will be the best: being cold-blooded and excellent at her job, which will definitely place her far above the rest of these jerks. Idk I’m really into competence/proficiency as a character trait.
Breakout Potential: High
Amanda Waller’s got everything going for her when we measure breakout potential. She’s got everything the modern superhero movie viewer could want: She’s being played by the unstoppable Viola Davis, she’s a highly capable and confident person of color that won’t take shit from any man or woman, super powered or not, and she’s going to be firing off some killer lines as she keeps all these maniacs in their place. It’s a wonder that Hillary’s team hasn’t already slapped an #IMWITHHER on top of every promo image of Viola Davis as Amanda Waller.
Some other chumps
In all honesty it very well could actually end up as someone we haven’t seen on the posters or in the trailers, but how am I supposed to make a bold prediction off of that? They’re “bold” predictions, not “drive super fast down the highway in the middle of the night with no headlights on” predictions. You’re seriously going to expect me to predict whether Scott Eastwood and Common are going to make an impact on this movie*? (*They won’t, but maybe Ike Barinholtz will?)
Anyway those are my bold predictions about who will be the breakout star of Suicide Squad. What do you think?* (*Don’t @ me.)