They’re not coy about it in The Suicide Squad marketing. As one of Amanda Waller’s underlings screams with utter joy in trailer, “Oh my God, we’ve got a freaking kaiju up in this shit!” Yep. The apparent lead villain of James Gunn’s wild reimagining of DC’s supervillain team is Starro: a Godzilla-sized alien starfish how has dreams on world domination. That makes sense.
When we sat down to speak with Gunn last month, we brought up the character and just why the filmmaker felt so endeared to this creature that he wanted to see Starro go head to head with his version of the Suicide Squad.
“Starro is hilarious because he’s ridiculous,” Gunn explains. “He’s a giant, cerulean blue starfish, but he’s also fucking terrifying. When I was a kid, I thought that was the scariest thing of all time and also recognize that it was somewhat ridiculous. I think that he’s perfect—that exemplifies what this movie is. It is ridiculous, and it’s also terrifying and serious at the same time.”
Gunn additionally teases out that Starro will not be the only baddie in the movie… or at least baddie working against our team of lovable misfits.
Says Gunn, “He does work really well as the villain of this movie, as one of the villains, actually, of this movie.”
For fans of DC comic book lore, this should be intriguing. On the one hand, it likely indicates that there will be a human antagonist or two in the film, and that Gunn’s vision for a down and dirty “war-movie” will not be just about fighting a giant CGI creature. However, it’s also worth considering that some of Starro the Conqueror’s comic book history suggests the possibility for all sorts of villains… even among potential heroes.
Created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky in 1960, Starro originally appeared in The Brave and the Bold #28 as the first villain the Justice League of America ever fought—this League being then comprised of the Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern, among others. A highly intelligent menace, Starro was still largely a giant monster. However, the creature was eventually reintroduced several more times over the years, including in Justice League of America #189-190, where it was revealed that Starro can reproduce asexually and create millions of “spores” that attach themselves to the faces of their victims.
Once a human face is hugged—it’s worth pointing out that these comics were published several years after Ridley Scott’s original Alien—the victim’s mind becomes controlled by Starro and, and thereby an extension of his will. At various times in DC comics, superheroes have come under the influence of Starro’s dastardly mind control powers. Even Superman proved susceptible in one particularly creepy two-parter in the underrated Batman Beyond television series.
When I mention that I’d love to see the facehugger angle explored on screen, Gunn only allows a small evasive laugh. But he does promise Starro will be more than a one-off joke in The Suicide Squad.
“We see his story too,” Gunn says. “We get to see Starro’s story as well. We get to know a little bit about that character, and it’s not a one-dimensional guy.”
The big bad guy will be tearing up movie screens when The Suicide Squad premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on Aug. 6, 2021.