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'Suicide Squad': How the comic book movie sets itself apart in a very crowded marketplace

'Squad' stars actors Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, and Will Smith as villains in the 'Batman' universe who are recruited by the government in exchange for more lenient punishments for their crimes. The film will be released in August 2016.

Warner Bros./YouTube
'Suicide Squad' stars Margot Robbie.

After footage that was screened at Comic-Con was leaked online, studio Warner Bros. has released a trailer for the upcoming comic book movie “Suicide Squad.” 

The film is based on a storyline in comic books in which such iconic DC villains as the Joker's girlfriend Harley Quinn work for the government and get their punishments for their crimes lessened in return. (It’s a “Dirty Dozen” kind of scenario.)

[Editor's note: The original version of this article misstated the Joker's role in this comic book storyline.

Viola Davis of the ABC TV show “How to Get Away with Murder” is portraying Amanda Waller, who works for the government and is in charge of the Suicide Squad. Margot Robbie of “Focus” is playing Harley Quinn, while Will Smith is portraying Deadshot, a villain who often goes up against Batman.

Cara Delevingne of “Paper Towns” is taking the role of the villain Enchantress, while Jai Courtney of “Terminator Genisys” is playing Captain Boomerang, an enemy of the superhero the Flash. The Batman villain Killer Croc is being played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje of “American Odyssey,” while Jay Hernandez of “Gang Related” is portraying the character El Diablo. Karen Fukuhara has been cast as the character Katana and Ike Barinholtz of “The Mindy Project" is playing the Batman enemy Hugo Strange.

Meanwhile, actor Jared Leto, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Dallas Buyers Club,” is portraying the Joker, one of the most infamous villains ever to face off with Batman. The Joker has previously been memorably played by actors Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. Ledger won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the 2008 Batman film “The Dark Knight.”

Judging from the trailer, which includes what certainly looks like the Caped Crusader on top of a car, actor Ben Affleck could be popping up in “Squad” as Batman. Press reports have suggested that Affleck will at least be making a cameo appearance in the film.

The creation of “Squad” may be an attempt to deal with fears of audience fatigue when it comes to comic book films. Even those who have never opened a comic book know Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man and audiences have now seen multiple actors take on these characters – we’re on our third Spider-Man in the last 15 years and the second Superman and Batman.

Yes, we still need a Batman in our DC universe – Affleck just came on board in "Batman v Superman" – but introducing new characters can’t hurt, and these villains have a built-in hook to a familiar character like Batman because so many of them go up against him in the comic book universe. A bonus: besides the Joker, the casual movie fan hasn’t seen most of these characters onscreen before, so those suffering from story fatigue – we need to see Spider-Man be in high school again? – can check out this movie and know they’re getting something new. 

As new as anything is in Hollywood at the moment, anyway – our old friend Batman is still involved.

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