How Polka-Dot Man’s superhero second turned the center of Suicide Squad

Exclusive: In The Suicide Squad, David Dastmalchian discusses how Polka-Dot Man became a symbol for people struggling with painful stories and trauma.

Warning: SPOILER for The Suicide Squad (2021)

Polka-Dot Man (aka Abner Krill) is one of the more absurd aspects of The suicide squad, but according to actor David Dastmalchian, its arc and culminating closing moments still form the heart of the entire film. The Suicide Squad is Dastmalchian’s first (and probably last) appearance in the role of Polka-Dot Man, whose black humor and expressionless performances made him so popular with audiences that he became a fan favorite overnight. Writer and director James Gunn carefully changed the Polka-Dot Man backstory for the film to make him a more personable character.

The Suicide Squad reveals that Abner and his siblings were experimented by their abusive mother (Lynne Ashe), who was a scientist who worked for STAR Labs. These experiments were not only the creation of Abner’s powers, but also the psychological trauma that would eventually force him to kill his own mother. Her murder is what ends up Abner at Belle Reve Penitentiary – a metahuman correctional facility and the black place where Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruits members for Task Force X (aka Suicide Squad). Abner’s story arc eventually resolves in a poignant (but comedic) moment in which he turns his trauma into a weapon to seriously injure Starro. His tragic past finally brought him his triumphant moment of superheroism, shortly before his death by the alien starfish.

Related: The Polka Dot Man on the Suicide Squad is a James Gunn miracle

Dastmalchian recently sat down with Screen Rant to discuss the emotional beats of Polka-Dot Man’s character. He calls Abner’s death “an important scene, and…” [he] really wanted to do it so badly for James [Gunn]The actor praises Gunn’s writing as it highlights the universality of Abner’s struggle to overcome the painful story and trauma. Check out the actor’s full comments below:

The only thing was that we didn’t shoot the fight with Starro until the end of production and it was like a six month shoot. So I had to work towards the “I’m a superhero” moment for six months. Which was a great gift in many ways because I was able to really become familiar and fully embody myself in all of his other scenes and all of the other discoveries I made about him on this journey. It made it a lot more emotionally impressive to me when we got to the Battle of Starro.

The only downside is that it was this fear on my mind because it’s such an important scene and I really wanted it so badly for James to be right. I mean, he wrote this beautiful character and scene, and it’s such an important moment. I put a lot of pressure on myself to find out what that scene would mean, to fulfill his vision for his script, and also to make the audience’s experience have real meaning.

James never set out to joke Abner’s depression or suffering. He puts a lot of heart and soul into the characters, even those who are the buttocks of the joke in every way, which makes it sound even more appealing. Because I think we’ve all been bullied at one point or another, especially those of us in the geek sphere. But everyone knows what it feels like not to belong; do not fit in; To have people judging and mocking you and then being plagued and tormented by something that haunts you.

Granted, in Abner’s case, it’s an interdimensional virus. But for some of us it’s insecurity or some physical trait that we really struggle with our insecurity about, or depression or anxiety or social anxiety or feelings of failure at work; Feelings of failure personally. All of that stuff haunts us all. I think James hit such a big nerve with writing this character. I am so happy that I got to play him.

Polka Dot Man, Peacemaker, and Bloodsport in The Suicide Squad

Dastmalchian has vocalized his intimate connection with the Polka-Dot Man’s fights. The actor may not have committed matricide himself, nor does he have the power to remove burn marks from his fingertips, but he understands what it is like to be “tormented by something that haunts you”. Dastmalchian’s connection to the material is sure to be well received on screen, because Polka-Dot Man is one of the film’s absolute standouts.

Unfortunately, given the demise of Polka-Dot Man, it’s unlikely that Dastmalchian will repeat the role anytime soon. There are, of course, numerous ways to circumvent the character’s death in signature comic book logic, but there doesn’t seem to be any immediate plans to bring the character back at the moment. And maybe the character is better off staying dead anyway – Abner’s story came to an emotional and logical conclusion at the end of the year The suicide squadso that reviving the character can cheapen his bow. Even so, Dastmalchian’s Polka-Dot Man was a pleasure to watch and will no doubt be remembered as one of the most memorable characters in the DCEU.

More: The Polka Dot Man’s Sister Explained The Secret Of The Suicide Squad Cameo Theory

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About the author

Brendan Kim
(71 articles published)

Brendan Kim is a graduate of Occidental College with a BA in history and music theory. During that time, Brendan interned with various nonprofits serving underserved communities in the Los Angeles area. He’s also a lifelong fan of Star Wars and would graduate on occasion.

More from Brendan Kim


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