A.R.G.U.S. and More: What ‘Suicide Squad’ Adds to the DC Extended Universe

When DC announced that Suicide Squad would be the third film in the DC Extended Universe, it came as something of a surprise. Rather than continue to focus on the core Justice League superheroes, DC Film was choosing to build up a very different part of their Extended Universe. Now we’ve seen Suicide Squad, it’s time to ask; what does this add to the DCEU?

Vigilantes are Old, Metahumans are New

Diablo - the Squad's nuclear weapon! Image: Warner Bros.
Diablo – the Squad’s nuclear weapon! Image: Warner Bros.

We already knew from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that the DCEU’s Batman – ably portrayed by Ben Affleck – has been around for a long time. Batman v Superman featured the Dark Knight as a grizzled old warrior, already familiar with suffering and loss, and already with a deadly rogues’ gallery. Suicide Squad fleshes that out, revealing some of the most remarkable figures; Will Smith’s Deadshot, Jared Leto’s Joker, and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn (both the Joker and Harley are shown to have origins tied to A.C.E. Chemicals).

While vigilantes and crime lords have been around for a while, Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress mentions that metahumans are something new – characters like Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s , or Jay Hernandez’s . Given Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller covered up the Midway City incident as a “terrorist attack”, it’s likely that the US government has been using the same approach on other occasions.

Midway City's problems were only beginning... Image: Warner Bros.
Midway City’s problems were only beginning… Image: Warner Bros.

There’s an interesting real-world analogue; terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay are held without trial, and it’s likely prisoners at Belle Reve are being held without trial as well. By classifying the prisoners as “terrorist suspects”, the US government avoids any trials that would potentially bring knowledge about metahumans into the public arena.

Of course, Superman – portrayed by Henry Cavill – changed all that, and the existence of metahumans is now public knowledge. The US government is continuing to present him as an isolated case so far as the public is concerned, though.

A.R.G.U.S. – An Important Note…

Amanda Waller - one dangerous lady! Image: Warner Bros.

Amanda Waller – one dangerous lady! Image: Warner Bros.

Amanda Waller mentions that the Suicide Squad is being run under an agency called A.R.G.U.S. In the comics, A.R.G.U.S. is the Advanced Research Group Uniting Superhumans. The agency’s first head was Steve Trevor, appointed due to his history with Wonder Woman.

This opens up a possible link to , which is set in the First World War. There’s a good chance that Wonder Woman’s actions in the film signal the moment the US government becomes aware of metahumans, and that ‘s version of Steve Trevor is the first head of A.R.G.U.S. If that’s the case, Wonder Woman could be as much an introduction to A.R.G.U.S. as it is to Wonder Woman and Themyscira. More likely, the agency was founded after the film, but the present-day officials might exploit Diana’s history with Steve Trevor to persuade her A.R.G.U.S. can be an ally once the Justice League is formed.

Wonder Woman discovers Steve Trevor. Image: Warner Bros.

Wonder Woman discovers Steve Trevor. Image: Warner Bros.

How would this fit with the idea of metahumans being somehow ‘new’? Fairly easily; Wonder Woman may well have been the first, with A.R.G.U.S. created to monitor the situation. Metahumans may have only just begun appearing among the general population recently within the DCEU. Essentially, A.R.G.U.S. would have been a background presence for decades, and only recently have become important again – as a result of Superman’s appearance in Man of Steel.

Whatever the background may be, A.R.G.U.S. exists in the DCEU – and . The agency has clearly been researching metahuman activity across the US, and likely across the world; I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor had stolen A.R.G.U.S. files – the footage seen in Batman v Superman. This would also make sense of Bruce Wayne’s cameo in Suicide Squad; Batman begins his hunt for metahumans by trying to find out where Luthor got his footage, traces it back to A.R.G.U.S., and then blackmails Waller for the information. That throwaway mention of A.R.G.U.S. is the first hint of a broader thread tying the DCEU together.

Bruce Wayne and Amanda Waller

Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne. Image: Warner Bros.

Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. Image: Warner Bros.

That scene is vitally important. It establishes that, as a man of wealth, Bruce Wayne has also exerted significant political influence; he has enough connections that Waller believes he can protect her from the repercussions of the Midway City disaster.

The dialogue is fascinating, in that it positions Amanda Waller and Bruce Wayne as polar opposites. Bruce Wayne assembles the Justice League; Amanda Waller assembles Suicide Squad. Bruce Wayne trusts in people; Amanda Waller trusts only in leverage, and approaches only those metahumans she can force to work for her.

It’s pretty clear that Bruce Wayne and Amanda Waller are only a couple of films away from an out-and-out war, with the Justice League and Suicide Squad caught in the middle. Given Suicide Squad has lost Harley Quinn, Diablo and (sort of) Enchantress, the Squad will need to recruit some new muscle in order to stand a chance of taking on the Justice League.

The Next War?

Here comes the Suicide Squad! Image: Warner Bros.

Here comes the Suicide Squad! Image: Warner Bros.

Amanda Waller clearly believes that metahumans are here to stay. When she speaks of the next war being fought with metahumans, she’s not referring to another alien invasion, as seen in Man of Steel (and, ironically, in Justice League). Instead, she’s referring to an international conflict. Waller believes we’re already entering World War III, where metahumans will be recruited by all the nations of the world.

I can understand her fear. Metahumans – men and women of unique power – would be viewed by many nations (including the US) as potential weapons. Imagine if Superman had been brought up a jihadist, and was used against the West! Over in the comics, both DC and Marvel have occasionally toyed with the idea of a sort of global metahuman arms race, while a number of metahumans have taken control of different countries. My personal favorite, Sonar, is a sonic manipulator who became absolute ruler of the Balkan nation of Modora.

Sonar strikes! Image: DC Comics

Sonar strikes! Image: DC Comics

Modora is a classic example; this approach is best used carefully, with imaginary countries (like Modora, or Marvel’s Genosha), rather than with existing ones. You risk irritating film audiences in the countries your US-based superheroes are opposed to. The reality is, I’m not sure whether or not Waller’s vision of a metahuman arms race will come to pass, but it’s an interesting concept, and teases a possible future direction for the DCEU.

As you can see, Suicide Squad may well have added a lot more to the DCEU than we realized at first viewing! Although the concept originally seemed left-field for so early on in the DCEU, it may have broadened things out considerably. We’ll have to wait and see how Suicide Squad connects to the next film…

Do you think we’ll see a Waller v. Wayne all-out war in the DCEU? Be sure to let me know in the comments- and check out this video of the Squad showing their softer sides!


I’m a British guy who has a particular love of superhero movies – and I’m having a great time writing for Movie Pilot! Feel free to follow me on Twitter @TomABacon!