This post contains minor spoilers for Suicide Squad, don't read on if you don't wanna know!
Ah, Suicide Squad. One of the joys of watching a film in the DC Extended Universe is the genre staple of Easter Eggs, references and connections to other media in the shared narrative universe. Suicide Squad was no exception to this, peppered full of connections to sister movies Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League.
But, whilst watching Suicide Squad we noted a couple of references to another DC property, once which recently became the centre of a massive shock twist to the comic book universe. In case you haven't been keeping up with DC Rebirth, we're referring to Alan Moore's seminal graphic novel Watchmen — published by DC in 1986 — which has gone on to become basically the bible of graphic novels.
Up until recently Watchmen was not considered to be part of the DC Universe, in which the superhero stories of the comics play out. But DC Rebirth changed that, appearing to canonise one of the Watchmen characters as a new antagonist for the world of Rebirth. Whether or not this makes the 2009 movie adaptation of the comic book — which was directed by Zack Snyder — part of the DCEU has been subject to some debate, though it's officially not counted as part of the shared universe as things currently stand.
So, imagine our surprise when we saw what appeared to be a couple of nods to Watchmen in Suicide Squad.
Who's Watching The Watchmen?
A "blink and you'll miss it moment" comes when Task Force X reach the building they’ve been sent to in order to extract the mysterious person of interest, who turns out to be Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) herself. The building was called the Jonathan Osterman Building. Ringing any bells? No?
How about now?
Jonathan "Jon" Osterman (Billy Crudup) was the unfortunate soul who, through a freak accident, was transformed into the god-like Doctor Manhattan, the red herring of Watchmen and the character who appears to have returned as antagonist for DC Rebirth. An interesting nod to a character who currently stands in the middle of the biggest mystery of the DC Universe.
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"It's A Joke. It's All A Joke."
There's a scene we saw a few times in the trailers where Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) smashes a department store window in the abandoned city in order to steal a small purse which matches her harlequin aesthetic. "Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?" Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) growls at her, to which she responds with a sarcastic eye roll, "We're bad guys, it's what we do."
Directly following this moment we get a lingering shot of Deadshot/Floyd Lawton (Will Smith) staring mournfully into the window of a children's clothing store. A small mannequin is decked out in girls clothing very similar to that worn by his daughter Zoe (Shailyn Pierre-Dixon) in the flashback scene where he is captured by Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck).
There's a shot taken from behind Deadshot, where the whole department store window fills the screen. Behind the child-sized mannequins looms a huge yellow smiley face, appearing to leer down at him from behind the glass. Sure, the huge yellow smiley face isn't exactly an icon which denotes any one meaning, but in the context of the DC Universe it is strongly associated with Watchmen.
The yellow smiley face badge worn by the Comedian/Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) quickly became the symbol of Watchmen. He wears it when he falls to his death in a scene which was gorgeously translated into Snyder's feature film, and it's discovered splashed with blood in the gutter by Rorschach/Walter Kovacs (Jackie Earle Haley) as he begins his investigation into Blake's death.
The smiley face in Suicide Squad could, of course, arguably just have been a design choice. But to make that design choice in a DCEU movie? It's almost certainly an Easter Egg.
Does This Mean Anything For The DCEU?
Well, likely these are just nods to Snyder's Watchmen movie and the highly influential graphic novel from which the movie took its name. Though it was David Ayer, not Snyder, who directed Suicide Squad, Snyder did shoot the Flash cameo scene during work on the upcoming Justice League.
Regardless of whether or not you liked Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, you have to admit that Snyder has already left his mark on the DCEU. Probably this is just a couple of Easter Eggy tributes to his work, but if not... Could there be someone, something, out there in the DCEU as there is in DC Rebirth? Watching, waiting...