For all Suicide Squad's flaws and failings, the third instalment in the DCEU still had many bright spots. One such high point was, of course, Viola Davis's Amanda Waller, the boss bitch of Task Force X who rules with an iron fist (no, not that one — although we can absolutely picture Waller punching the heart out of a dragon).
Waller has been the brains and often brawn behind Task Force X — a.k.a. the Suicide Squad — since the very early days of the team, and this is far from her first rodeo. We've seen her in many different incarnations before, but the Waller of the DCEU may be the most dangerous yet.
"Are You The Devil?"
Even in amongst the "worst of the worst", Waller somehow manages to be the worst of all. But that's alright, it's all for the greater good — even when she murderers several innocent people in cold blood for being witness to events above their clearance level. This is the kind of cold, bureaucratic calculation we're dealing with here.
If there's anyone in the DC Universe you'd think would understand the tough choices Waller makes, it's Batman. But though the two have had dealings in the past, they've also had their fair share of run-ins, and she fits neatly into the antagonist sphere the majority of the time.
Waller was a major player in the animated Justice League Unlimited, as well as several Batman storylines of the comics, as most of the time she's making life difficult for the Caped Crusader and the Justice League. So what does this new dynamic set up by Suicide Squad mean for the DC Extended Universe?
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Waller v Batman: Dawn Of An Uneasy Partnership?
We learn near the beginning of the movie that the incarceration of Deadshot/Floyd Lawton (Will Smith) was indirectly caused by Waller, as she anonymously tipped off Batman to his location. And then the Suicide Squad mid-credits scene later brought the surprising reveal that Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Waller had been working together in some capacity.
The mid-credits scene — which I have dubbed Waller v Wayne: Dawn of Dick Measuring — revealed a number of things. We see Waller hand over a metahuman dossier to Batfleck containing details of Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Flash (Ezra Miller), nicely laying the pathway towards the formation of the team in the upcoming Justice League.
It also establishes an uneasy working relationship between Waller and Wayne, reinforced by the fact that the company who produced the infamous neck bombs Waller uses to keep the squad in line was Van Criss, a subsidiary of WayneTech. But Bruce isn't too happy about what she's been up to with Task Force X, telling her to shut the program down — he and his friends will take care of things from here on out.
And the big reveal: Waller hints that she knows who is really behind that Bat mask, and knowing her she's going to make good use of that information further down the line.
But the mid-credits scene also raises a lot of questions too. Such as: How did Waller know about Flash and Aquaman? Is it possible she obtained the information from the now imprisoned Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg)? How long have she and Bruce Wayne been uneasy bedfellows? How did she find out he was Batman?
And — perhaps most importantly — what does it mean now that she's got a finger in the Justice League pie?
The mid-credits scene leaves off with Bruce now in possession of the information he needs to begin building the Justice League, but has he sold his soul to the devil in exchange? As Waller has proven repeatedly, she's not one to be taken lightly, and given that she's aware of Bruce's identity you can bet she knows exactly what his next step is.
Now that Waller has had a hand — however passive — in the creation of the Justice League, what does this mean for the team? It's wishful thinking that someone as ruthless and calculating as Waller would ignore any leverage she could gain over the most powerful team of superheroes in the universe. And Marvel Studio's Captain America: Civil War showed us what happens when issues of accountability and government restrictions are forcibly applied to a previously independent team of superheroes (spoilers, it doesn't end well).
Of course though, the difference between the Justice League and the Suicide Squad is that Task Force X works on a system of zero accountability — the fact that they're villains is exactly why Waller needs them. She's not exactly going to be able to go around planting bombs in the necks of the Justice League members — probably not a popular move to take before the White House.
But the beauty of Amanda Waller is that she doesn't need neck-bombs to control someone. She's already exerted some of this power over Bruce Wayne, hinting but not outright saying that she knows he's Batman. In the world of the superhero, keeping your identity secret is one of the most important struggles, and blackmail of such nature has been used many a time to influence the actions of even the most heroic of the DC Universe.
Bruce Wayne, being in the position of power he is, has just as much to lose in his personal life as he does as Batman. And now that the head of Task Force X knows who he is? Well, let's just say we don't think we've seen the last of Amanda Waller.