The best Suicide Squad stories across movies, TV, and comics

Harley Quinn, Diablo, Deadshot, King Shark and other supervillains march through the snow in Suicide Squad #1 (2011).
Image: Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio, Ransom Getty, Scott Hanna/DC Comics

A murderer’s row of Task Force X’s greatest adventures

Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, the cooperative open-world looter-shooter from Rocksteady Games and the latest installment in the Batman: Arkham series, was released earlier this month to an all-but-unanimously tepid reception.

After nearly eight years of development, several delays, and a storm of controversies regarding the game’s story and live-service elements, audiences appear to be lukewarm about playing as Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark as they fight across a Brainiac-occupied Metropolis to assassinate the mind-controlled members of Earth’s greatest heroes. Which is a shame, because the basic concept behind the Suicide Squad is still a lot of fun!

Whether or not you’re playing Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, there are still plenty of other stories to enjoy if you’re a fan of A.R.G.U.S.’s covert team of superpowered convicts. Whether in movies, television, animation, or comics, we’ve assembled a list of the best Suicide Squad stories to date that you can enjoy right now.

Best Suicide Squad Movies

The Suicide Squad (2021)

(L-R) Joel Kinnaman, Alice Braga, Daniela Melchior, Idris Elba, and John Cena standing in a tropical forest clearing in The Suicide Squad. Image: Warner Bros.

Director: James Gunn
Cast: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena
Where to watch: Max, Netflix

This recommendation feels like a no-brainer. When it comes to live-action Suicide Squad movies, there’s James Gunn’s action-packed 2021 film and... well, there’s the other one. The Suicide Squad taps into the irreverent wackiness at the heart of the team’s premise, something that was sorely lacking in the self-serious tonal scattershot of David Ayer’s 2016 film, while introducing several previously unadapted comic-book villains like King Shark, Peacekeeper, and the Polka-Dot Man. It’s a damn fine film, the commercial and critical success of which is directly responsible for Gunn taking the reins at DC Studios and being trusted with the next incarnation of the company’s cinematic universe. —Toussaint Egan

Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)

Six characters in various different costumes standing in front of a pair of steel doors. Image: Warner Bros. Animation

Directors: Jay Oliva, Ethan Spaulding
Cast: Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch
Where to watch: Max

This animated feature is especially interesting because of its tangential relationship to Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. During the development of WB Games Montréal’s Batman: Arkham Origins, Warner Bros. Animation approached writer Heath Corson to develop the script for a story about the Suicide Squad set in the Batman: Arkham universe, several years prior to Rocksteady’s own attempt at the concept.

The result was 2014’s Batman: Assault on Arkham, an animated feature following a group of superpowered criminals (including Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark) being recruited by A.R.G.U.S. commander Amanda Waller to infiltrate Arkham Asylum and kidnap the Riddler. It’s essentially an Ocean’s Eleven-style heist thriller about a team of bickering supervillains who are forced to face off against the Dark Knight. If you’re sour over the impact of Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League on the Arkham-verse, you might enjoy this entertaining “What If” scenario of a movie. —TE

Best Suicide Squad Television Episodes

Justice League Unlimited, “Task Force X” (2005)

A man in a purple shirt aiming two revolvers beside another man in a purple shirt. Image: Warner Bros. Animation

Director: Joaquim Dos Santos
Cast: Adam Baldwin, CCH Pounder, Michael Rosenbaum
Where to watch: Max, Netflix

Justice League Unlimited is one of the greatest superhero series ever to air on TV. It’s no surprise, then, that the capstone to the DC Animated Universe would boast one of the best Suicide Squad animated stories to date. “Task Force X” follows Colonel Rick Flag assembling a team of villains (including Deadshot, Plastique, Captain Boomerang, and the Clock King) to break into the most heavily protected compound known on Earth: the Justice League Watchtower.

It’s at once an excellent introduction to the basic concept of the Suicide Squad and an exemplary episode in and of itself, with plenty of shocking twists and explosive action along the way. How do you sneak your way onto a space station full of superheroes, steal an enchanted suit of indestructible armor, and escape safely? Watching this ragtag gang of criminals figure that out in real time is what makes this episode work. Joaquim Dos Santos, who directed the episode along with 19 others for the series, would go on to work on several other successful shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and Invincible, and he even co-directed 2023’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. —TE

My Adventures With Superman, “Zero Day: Part One & Two” (2023)

Superman being surrounded in a park by armored members of Task Force X. Image: Warner Bros. Animation/DC Entertainment

Director: Diana Huh
Cast: Jack Quaid, Alice Lee, Ishmel Sahid
Where to watch: Max

It’s not every day you get a story where Task Force X gets the drop on Superman.

The penultimate two-part episode of the first season of My Adventures with Superman sees the Man of Steel exhausted and stretched thin. After spending the majority of Zero Day: Part One racing across Metropolis attempting to help everyone that he can, Clark is ambushed by a new iteration of Task Force X comprised of Livewire, Rough House, Parasite, Heat Wave, Mist, Siobhan McDougal, and Slade Wilson.

The team manages not only to overpower Superman, but to successfully subdue and capture him on behalf of General Sam Lane and Amanda Waller. It’s a shame that this version of Task Force X managed to break loose of Waller’s clutches. Who knows what other spectacular illicit feats they could’ve pulled off? —TE

Arrow, “Suicide Squad” (2014)

Three convicts in yellow prison jumpsuits standing in handcuffs next to armed guards. Image: DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. Television

Director: Larry Teng
Cast: David Ramsey, Michael Jai White, Cynthia Addai-Robinson
Where to watch: Netflix

The CW’s Arrow adapted a vast swath of the DC universe over the course of its 8 seasons. The show introduced the first live-action incarnations of several prominent characters from DC Comics, including the Suicide Squad. In the 16th episode of the second season, Oliver Queen’s partner John Diggle is recruited by A.R.G.U.S. commander Amanda Waller to track down a chemical nerve agent. In order to pull off the operation, Diggle is tasked with leading an undercover team including Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, and Shrapnel.

It’s an excellent B-plot to Queen’s ongoing battle against his nemesis Slade Wilson throughout the season, and a fun Suicide Squad story on its own. We get to see (well, hear) Shrapnel’s head blow up! Deadshot is doing spy stuff! Bronze Tiger is played by Michael Jai White! We even get a brief sneak peek at Harley Quinn, who was supposed to play a much larger role in the series, had DC executives not intervened. C’est la vie. —TE

Best Suicide Squad Comics

Image: The eight members of the Suicide Squad in darkly-lit profile on the cover of Suicide Squad #1 (1987). Block text in the center of the image reads: “These 8 people will put their lives on the line for our country. One of them won’t becoming home!” Image: Howard Chaykin/DC Comics

Suicide Squad (1987)

Writer: John Ostrander
Artist: Luke McDonnell

It’s not the case for every long-running superhero team that you can confidently direct people to read the original book. But John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell had already tested out the “Dirty Dozen with supervillains” idea in a miniseries or two before, and with Suicide Squad, they hit the ground running. Readers expecting the same tone as the Gunn or Ayers films may be disappointed — but if you’re open to it, Ostrander and McDonnell deliver a tightly-paced pulp espionage series full of compellingly conflicted characters.

You’ll learn to love to hate Captain Boomerang and hate how much you love Deadshot — and you’ll watch the two creators quickly establish Amanda Waller, one of the most singular characters in superhero comics, as an indelible pillar of DC’s setting. —Susana Polo

Secret Six (2005)

A cropped image of several panels from Secret Six Image: DC Comics

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Dale Eaglesham, Brad Walker, Nicola Scott

There are a lot of great Suicide Squad comics to choose from. But what if, and stay with me here, one of the best Suicide Squad comics wasn’t even technically a Suicide Squad comic? I’m speaking of course about The Secret Six, a Silver Age team of spies that was later reinvented by writer Gail Simone as a group of supervillains lead by a mysterious overseer know as “Mockingbird.” From Susana’s write-up on the comic:

The Suicide Squad is kept together only by the iron will of Amanda Waller and her numerous surgically implanted bombs. Otherwise, it’s a team where practically every member hates every other member’s guts. But the Secret Six is a group of equally amoral criminal loners, kept together by nothing but the slow realization that there’s no one else in the DC Universe who understands their unique place in it as well as their teammates do.

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