Hollywood’s DC Universe is about to get a whole lot bigger with the addition of director David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Its self-titled ‘Worst Heroes Ever’ are a bunch of villains in the comic book world who have to band together to fight off a greater threat to civilization than they are.
They are hardly the first group of unlikely dangerous teammates to bond on the big screen. Here’s our rundown of the best of the ‘worst’ movie gangs.
Some of the squad are well known, but others will be new to most casual observers. Will Smith’s Deadshot is the de facto leader, but it’s Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller who is pulling the strings behind the scenes. The plot is still a closely guarded secret, with cameos aplenty in the pipeline, but one thing we know for sure is that we’ll get to see Jared Leto play The Joker, complete with green hair and regular squeeze Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). DC needs this one to work after 2016’s Batman v Superman failed to win over the critics, so squad goals are set high.
We’re lumping in the The Magnificent Seven here, given that Hollywood remakes of the original Japanese film follow the plot so closely. Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 masterpiece saw seven ronin – samurai warriors without a master – join forces to save a village from the clutches of bandits. The iconic film, which has traditionally figured high on critics’ polls, was one of the first to run with the idea of outsiders coming together for the greater good. The latest reworking of the story will be released later this year with Denzel Washington in the lead.
Still considered one of the most violent films to come out of Hollywood, Samuel Peckinpah’s Tex-Mex Western shoot-em’-up shouldn’t be dismissed as just another film about men with guns. OK, it does feature a lot of men with a lot of guns, but there is a lyrical beauty in how it all plays out. William Holden’s Pike Bishop leads a group of aging outlaws-turned-mercenaries on one last hurrah: the backdrop of a divided nation feels as pertinent now as it did in 1969.
We could have added any number of Westerns to this list since the genre is loaded with bands of outsiders who have murky morals. We plumped for this classic slice of Reagan-era gunslinging. Purists will baulk at its inclusion, but Young Guns flew the Western flag at a time when frontier dramas were almost extinct. Given the hip cast (well, it was hip in 1988) and emphasis on action, this Brat Pack adventure starred Emilio Estevez (as Billy the Kid), Kiefer Sutherland, and Charlie Sheen as members of the Regulators posse that fought in the 1878 Lincoln County War in New Mexico Territory.
The film might be called Mad Max: Fury Road, but Tom Hardy’s Max is sat firmly in the passenger seat. It’s Charlize Theron’s Furiosa who leads a group of escapees against the brutal Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Technically, they aren’t all villains, but the gang does enlist the help of the petrolhead Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who definitely starts out on the wrong side. Furiosa, Max, Nux, and the wives turn on the style in this breathlessly imaginative sequel. Theron was so good as the Imposing Woman on a Mission that she will again be behind the wheel in Fast 8.
Their numbers may have swelled over the course of seven outings, with at least three more on the way, but the Fast and Furious team began as a bunch of illegal street racers who now work with the government to eliminate various criminals with a penchant for vehicular-based evil masterplans. The series has lost all sense of reality while gaining a massive following. The diversity of the main members, who come from all backgrounds, is cited as the main reason the franchise does so well at the box office.
Usually high on every Best Remakes list, this 2001 heist caper boasts a superb cast of schemers trying to take down a casino boss. The frothy tone established by director Steven Soderbergh doesn’t allow for any menace to come through, try as he might to make Andy Garcia’s character a convincing bad guy. You’re much better off enjoying George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, and the rest having one big party in Vegas as they plot to ruin a decent man trying to make a living.
War! What is it good for? Well, movies seem to do well out of various conflicts across the ages. Robert Aldrich’s 1967 actioner sees a bunch of prisoners given a chance of redemption by going on a mission to assassinate German soldiers during World War II. Almost every member of the Dozen is a grizzled veteran of some description; Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson, and John Cassavetes were among the stars. The influence of this particular entry in the list is still ongoing, as we’re about to see.
Though Quentin Tarantino’s World War II movie borrows its title from a 1978 Italian action-war film, the real influence was The Dirty Dozen. Brad Pitt’s Aldo “The Apache” Raine leads a group of Jewish soldiers behind German lines in hopes of assassinating Hitler during a film screening. The plot deliberately gives the viewer an alternate history to account for any inconsistencies. It also gives us Christoph Waltz performing his malevolent schtick as SS Colonel Hans Landa, ‘the Jew Hunter’, before it becomes all too predictable. Seeing each team member go through their backstory in turn is a real treat.
If its slow-motion mullet-flicking you’re after, then you’ve come to the right place. Boasting some of the worst criminals ever put on screen (and some of the best character names, too), Con-Air took flight in 1997 with Nicolas Cage playing Cameron Poe going up against the likes of Diamond Dog, Cyrus the Virus, and Johnny 23. Making light of its preposterousness, the film is a fun ’90s action movie with a scene-stealing turn from Steve Buscemi as the creepy Marietta Mangler. Who would have thought that putting the most dastardly criminals on a poorly guarded aircraft would lead to so many problems?
He just can’t help himself, can he? Tarantino clearly enjoyed himself with this slow-burning Western; he even got to recruit legendary composer Ennio Morricone to join in with an Oscar-winning score. This band of stranded loners – exaggeratedly played by the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tim Roth – find themselves thrown together in a bloody battle of survival with one of their number out to kill them all. Halfway through, Tarantino turns the story on its head.
Suicide Squad is released on August 5