Polka-Dot Man Gets a Tragic Backstory

Total Film released an exclusive interview with James Gunn about The Suicide Squad. The interview explores how one of the most ridiculed villains of DC Comics was revitalized specifically for this story.

“I love the original John Ostrander run on Suicide Squad where the very simple concept is a bunch of B-grade, C-grade, Z-grade supervillains, who are bunched up because they’re considered expendable,” says Gunn. “I think that’s at the centre of what this movie it [sic] is. It is a military caper film, which is a genre that was very popular in the ’60s with movies like The Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare, and Kelly’s Heroes, and that has largely disappeared from screens today. To be able to create that type of story with folks wearing goofy costumes has been a blast.”

Polka-Dot Man is great, but I did think I needed a character who’s thought of as one of the dumbest ever. So I went and looked online, ‘Who’s the dumbest DC character of all time?’ and it was Polka-Dot Man. We’ve turned that character who’s a sad, pathetic character into a character who’s depressed because people think he’s stupid. He has a very tragic story that you learn about throughout the film – to be able to add depth to characters who are thought of as the silliest is a fun thing for me to do.”


David Dastmalchian shared a bit more about his character. “I can tell you that my character Abner is someone who has lived a lifetime with a lot of pain, a lot of shame, a lot of solitude because of a condition that he has. That condition was something that he decided at a certain point in time would be best suited to hurt other people or at least perform acts of crime, so that he could get some vengeance against a cruel and unfair world. Things haven’t gone great in Abner’s life basically since day one, so as we find him entering this story, he’s somebody that has never been a part of anything, so even in a bunch of really broken misfits and criminals, he’s maybe found one of the first moments in his life where he’s a part of something.”

Writer Richard Edwards said this about their experience on set:

And there’s a little more to Polka-Dot Man than simply lobbing spots across a room. On set, we’re treated to some test footage, which shows Abner’s head glowing and swelling to disturbing proportions. 

It’s unclear just what his powers will be and just how they work, but the test footage seems to indicate that Polka-Dot Man is much more than meets the eye.

James Gunn talked extensively about his preference for practical effects, and it seems he was not alone in his appreciation for it. “It’s all I ever dreamed of getting to do as an actor!” says Dastmalchian.“Since I was a little boy watching Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, dreaming about getting to do a fully realised actual performance incorporating an intense practical make-up … Of course, there’s going to be amazing digital effects – and we have the best digital effects team in the business on this on this film – but James wants so much gritty, tangible practicality in what the audience is going to experience. I’m just excited for people to experience that.”

In the film, Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, Viola Davis is Amanda Waller, Joel Kinnaman is Rick Flag, Jai Courtney is Captain Boomerang, David Dastmalchian is Polka-Dot Man, John Cena is Peacemaker, Sylvester Stallone is King Shark, Michael Rooker is Savant, Sean Gunn is Weasel, Idris Elba is Bloodsport, Storm Reid is Bloodsport’s daughter Tyla, Peter Capaldi is The Thinker, Pete Davidson is Black Guard, Daniela Melchior is Ratcatcher, Flula Borg is Javelin, Mayling Ng is Mongal, Alice Braga is Sol Soria, Nathan Fillion is T.D.K., and Jennifer Holland is Emilia Harcourt.

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on August 6, 2021.

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