With the buzz for Suicide Squad reaching a fever pitch lately thanks to a new trailer and promo art, lots of newcomers to the DC universe have been wondering who, exactly, the Squad is and where they will fit into the larger DC Extended Universe. Outside of Harley Quinn and the appearance of Joker in the trailers, most people don't know much about the rest of the team or its origins.
As it turns out, its background is about as bizarre and weird as the team itself. Here are 10 facts you (probably) didn't know about the Suicide Squad. Read up and then impress your friends with your super-cool comic book knowledge. #Skwadgoals, fam. #Skwadgoals.
1. It's also known as "Task Force X"
In the comic books, the team is generally referred to as the Suicide Squad, just like in the upcoming movie. But the name "Task Force X" only was used in the animated series Justice League Unlimited due to the word "suicide" not being allowed on children's television due to censorship rules.
2. The Suicide Squad isn't as new as you think
Lots of fans mistakenly think the Suicide Squad is a relatively modern addition to comics, and that's understandable as it's the New 52 version of the team with which most people are familiar. But the Squad has been around for almost 60 years, first appearing in 1959 in The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #25.
3. Joker was never a part of it
While Jared Leto may be all over the promo material for the Suicide Squad marketing campaign, and rightfully so, the Joker was never part of the team in the comics. He was only ever on the team in name only - sort of: in the New Suicide Squad series, the sometimes-villain, sometimes-hero Joker's Daughter is on the Squad.
4. The concept was based on two classic pieces of pop culture
Both the modern concept of the team and its dynamic was based on iconic World War II film The Dirty Dozen while the crazy missions the Squad has to pull off is based on the original '60s television series Mission: Impossible.
5. It was created partly to help explain a major weakness in DC comics
One criticism of the DC universe has always been that for as dangerous as its villains are, they somehow seem to always manage to be let out of prison or never incarcerated in the first place. Suicide Squad helped address this weakness by explaining it as villains being handed commuted prison sentences if they agreed to join the team and successfully complete black ops missions.
6. It's where Barbara Gordon made her first appearance as Oracle
Even most non-DC fans know the story of Barbara Gordon by now. How she was once Batgirl, then paralyzed by The Joker in "The Killing Joke," then reinvented herself post-paralyzation as brilliant information broker, Oracle. But most people don't know Babs' first appearance as Oracle was in Suicide Squad #23 (1989). Cool, right?
7. The storylines were pulled straight from current political events
In the late '80s-early '90s, the storylines in the Suicide Squad series closely followed real world political events and military crises, with world leaders like Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev making appearances. In fact, so closely did the stories follow current events that then-writer John Ostrander claimed he had a friend decided which political hotspots to stay away from while vacationing by reading the comics.
8. Harley Quinn is the star of the modern incarnation
Harley Quinn has really been the star of the New 52 incarnation of Suicide Squad, which has served as quite the showcase for the unhinged antihero. Lots of attention has been paid to the twisted relationship between Harley and Joker, but the comics have been as much about Harley trying to break away from Joker and do her own thing than her loving him.
9. It is literally a suicide squad
Because the team is comprised of convicts and the criminally insane, director Amanda Waller put a failsafe in place to control them. Each member is implanted with a micro-bomb that can be remotely detonated by Waller should any member go rogue.
10. This isn't the first live action version of the Suicide Squad we've seen
A live action version of the Suicide Squad already appeared, in DC television series Arrow. Fun fact: Tara Strong, the current voice of Harley Quinn in all DC video games and animated series, voiced her in the episode, though she was physically portrayed by actress Cassidy Alexa and named only as the "Deranged Squad Female."
Suicide Squad is in theaters on August 5th, 2016.