The Suicide Squad Dir James Gunn: What Makes a Crappy Supervillain Crappy

Tim Molloy and Eric Steuer • August 19, 2021

James Gunn bought into the Suicide Squad concept from a very young age, delighting in DC Comics writer John Ostrander’s stories of, as Gunn puts it, “The Dirty Dozen meets Z-grade supervillains.”

“I love old war movies, I love old war caper films like The Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare,” Gunn says. “So being able to put super crappy supervillains in those situations was a lot of fun to me.

But what makes a crappy supervillain crappy? Why does The Joker (gaudy suit, bad dye job, weird makeup, no powers) scare people — while King Shark (exactly what he sounds like) is relegated to hanging out with other Z-listers in Gunn’s latest film, The Suicide Squad?

We asked Gunn how he defines crappy in the latest MovieMaker podcast, which you can check out on Apple or Spotify or above. Suicide Squad is about a team of outcast supervillains sent out to complete dangerous missions to shave time off of their long prison terms.

Some, like Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Bloodsport (Idris Elba), are cool. And then there’s Polka-Dot man, played in the film by David Dastmalchian, whose super power is the ability to produce polka dots and turn them into weapons.

“I mean, naming yourself Polka-Dot Man, you’ve got to have a problem with you,” Gunn explains. “Like, the first time he makes his costume, there’s probably guys you go to — the high-end guys who make superhero costumes, the low-end guys — he probably goes to the low-end guy. And he puts it on and he looks in the mirror and he’s like, ‘That is cool. I’m the next Batman.’ That’s what he thinks, right? Polka-Dot Man thinks he’s gonna be a hero at first.”