Fans of The CW’s superhero series Arrow who have been watching since at least Season 2 will remember that the DC Comics anti-hero team Suicide Squad, a.k.a. Task Force X, appeared on TV long before the Warner Bros. film hit the screen. Sure, some of the faces were a little different–Arrow featured Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), Shrapnel (Sean Maher), and the team of John and Lyla Diggle (David Ramsey and Audrey Marie Anderson)–but Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), Captain Boomerang (Nick E. Tarabay) and Deadshot (Michael Rowe) were on both teams, just played by different actors. Since spoilers follow, if you’re not caught up on Arrow or Suicide Squad, it’s probably best to stop reading now.
In an interview with Vulture, executive producer Greg Berlanti talked at length about his expansive superhero universe on TV and the points at which it crosses paths with Warner Bros.’ DCEU. While the interview is a very interesting read for fans who have been following Berlanti’s work for a while, perhaps the most revealing quote is the one concerning DC Comics’ request to see the Suicide Squad on Arrow while the studio was in development on the feature film.
Here’s a snippet of what Berlanti had to say in the long-ranging interview with Vulture:
To what extent are the comics R&D for the TV and movie properties? Does DC Comics president Geoff Johns come to you and say, “Hey, here’s something we tried out in a comic. Let’s try it here”?
Sometimes, or he has other executives mention that to us. They said to us a year and a half before they started developing Suicide Squad, “Will you guys put [a version of] the Suicide Squad in your show? Because we want to have it as a film at some point.” It also happened with Geoff when Geoff and Andrew [Kreisberg] and I were creating Flash.They were both really huge fans of Cisco Ramon, [also known as] Vibe,18 and had written a Vibe comic [in 2013] to try and bring him back. They said, “Could we please have Vibe on the show?”
Though Berlanti doesn’t come right out and say it, we can connect the dots and presume that once Task Force X proved to be a viable commodity on Arrow, the TV versions of the characters had to be wiped out in order to clear the way for the big-screen iteration to prevent any confusion. Captain Boomerang “died” and came back on the show, just as he did in the film; Harley Quinn was glimpsed but deemed too deranged for the episodes’ missions; Shrapnel–a serial bomber who’s arguably slightly more useful than Slipknot, who can climb anything–died while trying to escape, setting an example for the rest of the squad; Bronze Tiger was killed off in a comic book battle between episodes; Deadshot sacrificed himself to allow the others time to escape; and even Waller herself met a violent end.
The fates of each version of the DC Comics characters may have differed between the TV and film versions, but it’s not a stretch to see how the Suicide Squad was temporarily worked into the plot of Arrow to test the waters. I actually rather enjoyed the little side adventures from the main plot of the series since it gave some breathing room to the main cast and expanded the world of the comics-inspired show. I don’t, however, appreciate the amount of meddling that went into the making of Suicide Squad that could have come at the cost of Arrow’s quality, especially since I’m finding the TV side of the DC universe much more enjoyable than the movie-verse lately.
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