Considering the Tattooed Characters of 'Suicide Squad'

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Margot Robbie (still in costume as an inked up Harley Quinn) tattooing one of her fellow stars.

Margot Robbie (still in costume as an inked up Harley Quinn) tattooing one of her fellow stars.

Since the invention of the internet movie buffs approach films in a whole new way. In the bad old days fans knew almost nothing about movies as they were being made, there wasn't a heck of a lot of news that leaked out. Now, there is a constant stream of information coming out about not just every movie in production, but even about scripts that could possibly become a movie. By using social media and blogs to their advantage as well as releasing multiple different trailers and teasers a studio can froth up anticipation months, even years, before a film will hit theaters. One of the most hotly anticipated movies in recent memory is the upcoming Suicide Squad, and frankly, we were hooked from the get go.

From the second the first image was released from the film—a photo of Jared Leto as a tattoo covered Joker—ink has been incredibly prevalent in the themes of the film. After learning that the Joker would have a ton of tattoos, which many fans thought was a prank at first but has since been confirmed, we have seen significant amounts of ink on Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie), Enchantress (played by Cara Delevingne), El Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez) and whoever it is that Common is playing (for now he is just credited on IMDB as "Tattooed Man"). Hell, the cast even spent an evening bonding by giving each other tattoos. 

This is how we react each time we get a new look at a tattooed character from Suicide Squad.

This is how we react each time we get a new look at a tattooed character from Suicide Squad.

You'd be hard pressed to find a movie with more tattooed characters in prominent roles, and originally we were stoked to see so many stars of the movie showing off some ink. Far too often the tattooed characters you see in movies tend to be villains (think DeNiro in Cape Fear) or bit players (Brad Pitt in Snatch), but in Suicide Squad they are the "heroes."

I put heroes in quotes because it's debatable whether or not there are any actual heroes in Suicide Squad, and it is because of that grey area that we have tempered our excitement about the film's casting of tattooed characters. For those of you familiar with the comics (which I'm guessing is not that many of you considering the lack of popularity of the comic. As a tangent, it's amazing that such a relatively unloved comic is getting so much movie love) you know that the squad is essentially a bunch of villains rounded up and forced into a situation where they have to be heroic. And despite their deeds it is always evident that these are not good people, and that's what makes them interesting. So when putting this into consideration it makes one question whether or not Suicide Squad is actually playing against the stereotype with tattooed good guys; it seems more like they are giving characters tattoos as a way to designate them as villains even though they will still be who audiences are expected to root for.

This could be reading too much into things, but you already knew that because we're talking about a movie a full NINE MONTHS before it hits theaters, any speculation about it is reading too much into things. That being said, it is interesting that the majority of the characters that we have seen with tattoos don't historically have them in the comics. Joker—never tattooed. Harley Quinn—never been inked. Enchantress—nope. The only character that has had tattoos throughout their comic book history is El Diablo (we're going to continue to ignore Common's character for now because we don't know who he is exactly). Therefore one stands to believe that director David Ayer has made a conscious decision to add ink to half the cast of the film. It could be something as inconspicuous as thinking that it would look pretty damn cool if when the Joker held someone in a head lock he had a tattoo smile that covered their face, which, for the record, would be awesome. Or perhaps Ayer was looking for an easy way to make the characters seem somewhat edgier and tattoos were the simple fix.

A recent set of covers of Empire gave fans a first look at a few characters, including a tattooed version of Enchantress.

A recent set of covers of Empire gave fans a first look at a few characters, including a tattooed version of Enchantress.

Which leads me to think that the main reason Ayer chose to add tattoos to three of the four the most high profile characters in the film (excluding Will Smith's Deadshot) was to have the tattoos designate them as "bad." Much like how in old westerns the villain always wore black, I feel that Ayer is using tattoos to create the same effect. And in August when Suicide Squad finally comes out the tattoos will give audiences a subtle reminder that even though they are rooting for Harley Quinn to save the world, she still isn't the hero that a non-tattooed Wonder Woman would be, for example. Once again, this is totally speculation and we sincerely hope that we are wrong. Maybe this is a movie that just happens to have heroes with tattoos and we can stop getting uptight about the way the tattooed are portrayed in films, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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