In the film, the anti-heroes of Task Force X – or the suicide squad of dangerous violent criminals selected to accomplish missions so dangerous they are “suicides” – form two squads to take down the Nazi science laboratory in Jötunheim and his mysterious Project Starfish experience. on the fictional South American island of Corto Maltese. Margot Robbie reprizes her role of beloved antihero Harley Quinn, while Idris Elba portrays the rebellious and surprisingly heroic Bloodsport. John Cena is Peacemaker, a dangerously patriotic member with the clever name of the Second Team. Daniela Melchior is the rat-controlling Ratcatcher 2, and Viola Davis is Amanda Waller, the leader of Task Force X with a secret agenda.
In DC Comics, Corto Maltese Island is first featured in the 1990s comic Time Masters # 4 as another Cold War conflict site. The United States backs the island government and sends Superman to deal with the Soviet-backed rebels, marking the start of yet another nuclear battle between the two world superpowers.
This is the same Corto Maltese that we meet in 2021 in “The Suicide Squad” by James Gunn. Of course, the island – and, for that matter, the movie – is fictional, but it draws on some disturbing and relatively recent stories. In the film, Corto Maltese was a refuge for the Nazis at the end of WWII, particularly attracting many Nazi scientists who ultimately created Jötunheim for human experiments on prisoners on the island.
Likewise in our world, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and other countries in South America have seen an influx of thousands of fleeing Nazis seeking refuge – in some cases with the help of the US government – after the Second World War.
Corto Maltese’s historical roots in the American-Nazi collaboration
While much of the South American Nazi resettlement efforts in the real world took place through fake passports and backdoor deals between countries like Argentina and Germany, which had links narrow at the time, the US government was complicit in at least one case involving Nazi Klaus Barbie, and his relocation to Bolivia.
Barbie, who had been the Gestapo chief in Lyon, France, and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of French Jews and members of the French Resistance, was secretly recruited by the US Counterintelligence Corps to help with anti-communist efforts before the Cold War.
In “Suicide Squad”, Project Starfish is the Nazi laboratory experiment supervised by The Thinker (Peter Capaldi). . . and in one of the film’s darker twists, turns out to be funded and run by the US government. At the heart of Project Starfish is alien Starro the Conqueror, who was captured by the United States and has been experimented with in Jötunheim since then.
Project Starfish is reminiscent of one of the actual Paperclip operations, which saw the U.S. government secretly recruit and employ more than 1,600 scientists from Nazi Germany after WWII, primarily to aid the U.S. military in its race to space with the Soviet Union.
The resemblance between this secret story and the dark, fictional revelations of “The Suicide Squad,” which sees the US government partnering with Nazi scientists to obtain a dangerous alien being from space on which to conduct secret human experiments is almost eerie. And there are even more unfortunate parallels between Corto Maltese and actual American and South American political history. Across the fictional island, political dissidents and their families regularly disappear and are imprisoned. This is perfect for The Thinker, who takes the opportunity to use these prisoners for his Project Starfish experiment.
And in real life, autocratic governments across South America, especially during the Cold War era when many of these regimes had U.S. backing, disappearance, murder and torture of ‘an unknown number of dissidents have been a grim reality for years, often with assistance from the United States Today, little is known about the extent of these atrocities, so several countries in America South have attempted to set up truth and reconciliation committees to determine how many people have been victimized and to hold accountable those responsible and may still hold power.
A superhero movie with a new villain: the US military
“The Suicide Squad” is called a superhero film like no other, especially for its roster of villains who are cosplayed as heroes. There’s also its extreme, truly gruesome violence and gore, which at one point shows an army of rats ripping the brain of a giant alien being to shreds, and at other times, people ripped apart limb by limb. But it also diverges from the typical hero flick which portrays the U.S. military as a benevolent and peacemaking force, and if not incompetent to the enhanced superhuman beings, at least well-meaning.
On the other hand, the American army in “The Suicide Squad” is the villain, and a “hero” named Peacemaker is so thirsty for “peace,” that he will adopt any amount of violence and imperialist and chauvinistic tactics to achieve it. In a shocking twist, we learn that Peacemaker is in cahoots with Waller, and he’s aware and determined to destroy all evidence of the U.S. government’s involvement in Project Starfish. He is the embodiment of the real dangers and roundabout brutalities of American nationalism.
Few superhero movies keep it as real as “The Suicide Squad”. Marvel Studios is consulting the United States military on its plans for its depictions of the military. In “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” we get a taste of the critique of actual US government surveillance and predictive policing policies of who is and is not a “criminal” or an enemy of the United States. ‘State even before they’ve done anything. But all of this can be very clearly blamed on Hydra, the fascist and parasitic group that infiltrated SHIELD and was created by the Nazis in “Captain America: The First Avenger”. In “The Suicide Squad”, the US military is evil, period.
Even beyond the grim realities reflected in the fictional laboratories of Corto Maltese and Jötunheim, the premise of “Suicide Squad” and “The Suicide Squad” itself is eerily familiar to the realities of how we treat “criminals”. like Harley Quinn and the rest of her. squads, in real life. The lives of incarcerated people are seen as expendable, both in the United States and in a fictional country called Corto Maltese – whether they are forced to give their lives to Project Starfish or in real life, whether they risk their lives. to put out forest fires in California or die for lack of the prison’s COVID security protocol. It’s the reality of “The Suicide Squad” that sets the film apart and finally brings something new to the superhero genre by creating a new super villain: the current US government.