This post contains big ass spoilers for Suicide Squad, so tread lightly all ye who enter here.
Whilst the polarising Suicide Squad be setting new fires in terms of internet flame wars, it certainly continues the divisive tradition of the DC Extended Universe. Like its sister movies it has high points and low points, and like all media which exists within the framework of a shared universe narrative it’s packed full of connections to what came before, and what is yet to come.
So, how does it fare in terms of connections to the other movies of the DCEU? DC and Warner Bros' attempts to emulate the structure established by Fox/Marvel and Marvel Studios/Disney are still in the early days, with Suicide Squad marking only the third movie in the DCEU. But there's still plenty to play with, especially in terms of picking up the narrative left by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Let’s break it down.
1. Going Batty
For a fairly unrelated movie we get a decent amount of Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) cameo time, mainly near the beginning when we’re getting the rundown on the individual squad members, but again later during the post-credits sequence.
Batman captures Deadshot/Floyd Lawton (Will Smith) during an emotionally charged scene where Deadshot’s young daughter steps in front of Batman and begs her father not to kill him, leading to the cold-hearted assassin giving himself up in an attempt to win back some of his daughter’s respect.
We’re also treated to the scene we saw teased in the trailers of Batman in pursuit of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Joker (Jared Leto), which cumulates in the Caped Crusader saving Harley’s life whilst apprehending her and sending her to Belle Reve Penitentiary.
However, it’s not really clarified when the individual members of the squad were incarcerated. So where these Harley and Deadshot flashbacks land in the timeline is anyone’s guess. Likely they occurred prior to the events of Batman v Superman as we assume the inmates have been incarcerated for quite some time, but that’s just guesswork on our part right now.
2. A Flasher In The Movie Theatre
We knew for a while that we’d be seeing a Batman cameo in Suicide Squad, but when we learned just prior to release that we’d also get our first real look at Ezra Miller’s Flash/Barry Allen in action we were a little surprised. Happily surprised though, like when you find an extra ten bucks in your wallet as opposed to a scorpion.
And so we very briefly get to see Flash as he takes down Captain Boomerang/Digger Harkness (Jai Courtney) during a bank robbery. Making his trademark quips, Flash knocks the Aussie thief on his ass with a burst of blue lightning, leading directly to Boomerang's imprisonment in Belle Reve.
In all likelihood this could be a set up for the mysterious solo Flash movie The Flash, which currently has a tentative release date of 2018 set. Shared universe franchises like the DCEU often drop in secondary characters to be developed further in later movies (think Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and as Boomerang is one of the Flash's classic nemeses, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him returning to antagonise Barry Allen when his solo vehicle rolls around.
3. The True Dawn of Justice
The mid-credits scene was a surprising delight, and actually revealed a fair amount about what Bruce Wayne has been up to between the events of Batman v Superman and Justice League. In the mid-credits scene Bruce Wayne meets with Amanda Waller in a stare down contest which cumulates in Waller giving Bruce a dossier file containing details of two potential Justice League members — the aforementioned Flash and Jason Mamoa's Aquaman/Arthur Curry.
But it also raised a question, are Bruce Wayne and Amanda Waller working together? And if so, for how long? Long enough for Waller to have figured out that Bruce is the one behind Batman's mask, certainly. And long enough for Bruce to be in a position where he feels he can demand Waller shutdown Task Force X.
Speaking of Bruce Wayne being in bed with Amanda Waller (get your heads out the gutter, it's a figure of speech), it's also worth touching on the fact that WayneTech — the single largest division of Wayne Enterprises — is said to be the parent company of Van Criss. Van Criss are the company who made the neck-bombs which the Squad are outfitted with to keep them in line, which draws a pretty big line connecting Waller and Wayne.
Whilst this scene was primarily a set up for Justice League — clarifying how exactly Bruce became aware of the whereabouts of Flash and Aquaman — it also lays the foundation for Waller and Batman coming into conflict in the future, as they often do in the comics. And honestly, we can't wait to see the badass Waller going head-to-head with the Batman.
4. Bye Bye Superman
The final twist of the knife during Batman v Superman was the death of Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), who fell during the climactic battle with Doomsday. Superman’s death is referenced numerous times during the movie, answering the question asked by many prior to the release of Suicide Squad regarding whether it would be a sequel or prequel to Batman v Superman.
Indeed the whole reasoning behind the formation of Task Force X in the first place comes down to Superman. He no longer exists to protect the world from, say, the threat of another metahuman on his power level. As the question asked in both the trailer and the movie itself: What if Superman had decided to fly down, rip off the roof of the White House, grab the president right out of the oval office? Who would've stopped him?
Waller knows that the next Superman might not be as altruistic as Clark Kent was, and after a display of Enchantress's (Cara Delevingne) powers this is the leverage she uses to push Task Force X through the paperwork into reality. We even get a nice flashback snippet to Superman’s funeral, as seen in Batman v Superman, to drive the point home — the Earth is undefended, and the Suicide Squad is America's best bet.
5. The Darkest Knight
One of the defining moments of the Caped Crusader's life was being teased way back before Batman v Superman was even close to hitting screens, and there was a surprise nod to the death of Robin in Suicide Squad too. A "blink and you’ll miss it moment" during Harley Quinn's introductory title card sequence, we're told that she was wanted as an accomplice to the death of Robin.
Which Robin is not specified, but you can bet that it's probably Jason Todd, as echoing A Death in the Family from the DC Comics. And the not-so-subtle hints peppered through the DCEU about Robin so far means that this sub-plot will likely become more important as we move further down the line.
Knowing this also makes the scene between Harley Quinn and Batman even more interesting, as it means the Dark Knight has once again put aside personal vengeance to bring one of the people who killed his protege to justice. And, at his core, that's a big part of what makes Batman, Batman.