Viola Davis, who will be playing Amanda Waller in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, recently made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. In the interview, Davis said that her character would “[make] Superman … quake in his tights.” That brought a smile to my face. To me, that line meant that Davis had a good idea of how to portray Waller, or at least that the screenwriters have done the character justice. I hope they do as good a job in production, because Waller is hands-down one of the most interesting characters DC has turned out. I know there are plenty of people out there who might disagree with this statement, but if you know the character, you realize that few of the spandex crowd ever get this type of moving background, excluding the big names like Batman and Superman.
There are a lot of people who are not familiar with the character, but if you are a fan of DC Comics, you should be. When Amanda Waller was introduced, it was easy to see that she was a tough-as-nails type of gal. One that took no guff from anyone, something that she has proved on many occasions–just ask Batman. But what made her so much more interesting was her backstory and her true motivation. Waller was not just a woman trying to make it in a world dominated by high-testosterone men in tights. She had also pulled herself up out of the gutter and suffered through personal loss and tragedy along the way. Her force of will and her cunning mind were her only weapons, but still seemed to come out on top against some of the DC universe’s most powerful heroes and villains. This alone won me over to the character, but it wasn’t the only reason. The other reason I love the character is her ability to see the big picture and to make the tough decisions when necessary. In the original series, we often got to see her making calls that were difficult, and while she never showed that she cared in front of others, we did see that she took no pleasure in most of those decisions.
Recently, with the launch of the New 52, Amanda Waller was transformed. Gone was the overweight woman with a simple taste of style, replaced by yet another slim, ultra-hot female. This new supermodel version took away some of the punch of the original character, because in a world full of perfect abs and pecs, she stood out as a more realistic person. Waller also had demons in her closet, demons that she wrestled with, and only added to the character’s depth and verisimilitude. She might blow someone’s head off in the line of duty, but she took no pleasure in it–at least, not all the time. So what we had with the original character of Amanda Waller was a realistic character with more depth and complexity than most of the superheroes (and supervillains) inhabiting her world. That’s why the Amanda Waller from the first Suicide Squad series was such a great character.
I was hoping that the rumors of Oprah Winfrey getting the roll were true, but I knew that would be far more than I could hope for. Oprah would have been perfect for the roll, and been able to bring the character to life in a way other actresses couldn’t. By no means am I saying that Viola Davis can’t do it, but Oprah better represents the everyday woman than the stunning Viola Davis does, and that’s important to the character.
In the end, I’ll have to wait like everyone else to find out how good of a job they do with my beloved Suicide Squad and Amanda Waller. All early signs show that they are approaching it from the right angles. I just would have been more comfortable if they had at least brought on John Ostrander as a consultant for the project.