Why James Gunn included Polka-Dot Man, one of DC’s ‘dumbest super villains,’ in ‘The Suicide Squad’

David Dastmalchian and James Gunn on set of The Suicide Squad
David Dastmalchian and James Gunn on set of ‘The Suicide Squad.’ Warner Bros.
  • Warning: There are minor spoilers ahead for “The Suicide Squad.”
  • Insider asked director James Gunn why he chose to put obscure Batman villain, Polka-Dot Man, in his film.
  • Gunn said, at the end of the day, his journey is more relatable than Captain America’s in the Marvel films.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

James Gunn‘s “The Suicide Squad” includes a large roster of well-known and rather obscure DC villains.

Among some of the wackier characters to make the cut is Polka-Dot Man, a minor Batman villain who has never been in a live-action DC movie until now. There’s a specific reason Gunn chose the character to be a part of his squad.

“Seriously, I would look up like who are considered the dumbest super villains of all time on Google and at the top of every list was Polka-Dot Man,” Gunn told Insider during a virtual Q&A after a screening of the film in July.

Created by writer Bill Finger and artist Sheldon Moldoff, the character, otherwise known as Abner Krill, made his first comic appearance in 1962 as Mr. Polka-Dot and was more of a nuisance than an outright villain to Batman and Robin. He performed dot-related crimes and hijinks.

Polka-Dot Man's first comic appearance in Detective Comics #300
Polka-Dot Man’s first comic appearance in Detective Comics #300. DC Comics

He was more or less a joke to other DC villains.

“I wanted to take this character and give him a soul,” Gunn said, adding that a lot of what drove him with “The Suicide Squad” was Krill’s character.

“We think [he] is like the dumbest character of all time, who is made fun of at the beginning of the movie by the other dumb super villains who think he’s dumb. Yet he has this incredibly dark, dark, dark backstory,” Gunn added.

Without giving much away, in “The Suicide Squad,” Krill’s polka-dots aren’t simply a decoration on his costume. They’re the result of an experiment, which has left Krill deeply traumatized.

In the comics, each colored dot on his costume contained a different power. Here, that’s not the case. Krill’s dots are all quite deadly explosive devices when thrown any which way.

Later, in the same Q&A, Gunn mentioned that Polka-Dot Man, who “has a reputation as being useless,” ends up “being probably the most powerful character in the whole movie” by its end.

David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man in 'The Suicide Squad.'
Gunn wanted to take one of the silliest characters in the DC universe and make him into someone the audience could care about. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

In his search to create his squad, Gunn said he had a folder full of potential DC characters ranging from Man-Bat to Bane whom he considered using in the film.

The “Guardians of the Galaxy” director said he’s drawn to characters like Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) who “never really had a well-defined personality in the comic books.”

“It was just about giving us this guy who was the typical loser and get to see him on his journey,” Gunn told Insider of adding Krill to his line-up for “The Suicide Squad.”

In a separate conversation with Insider, David Dastmalchian, who plays Polka-Dot Man, described what makes Krill’s character relatable to audiences.

“Abner is definitely dealing with feeling very alone, feeling very isolated. He’s haunted by darkness in his past and his childhood. It’s no surprise to anyone that that’s not an experience that is rare or isolated,” said Dastmalchian. “It’s something that almost all of us, if not all of us have felt at one time or another in our lives.”

“Being an outsider, feeling alone, feeling hopeless that’s just such a common state of being for so many of us at so many different parts of our lives and Abner embodies that and are really powerful way,” he added.

“Most of us in the world probably relate a lot more to Polka-Dot Man than we do Captain America,” Gunn told Insider, referencing the Marvel hero played by Chris Evans who was injected with a super soldier serum in order to gain super powers.

“The Suicide Squad,” also starring John Cena, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie and Pete Davidson, is in theaters Friday.