CS Soapbox: Who is Starro and what is he doing in The Suicide Squad?
Holy smokes! By now most have seen the trailer for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and will likely have a few questions: first, what’s with the d*ck jokes? Second, why is Idris Elba so damn cool in everything he does? Third, and perhaps most importantly, what the hell is that giant starfish-kaiju thing?
We have no answers for the first two questions, except to say Gunn has a particular style of humor that happily borderlines on juvenile, and Elba’s coolness is near unmatched by anyone save for maybe peak Sean Connery, but let’s speculate on the third, shall we?
As it turns out, the starfish thingy is part of an alien species known as Star Conquerors. One specifically known as Starro the Conqueror overthrows planets using strange psychic abilities that allow him to control his victims. Starro’s methods aren’t much different from the Glorzo race in the Jeff Loveness-penned season four episode of Rick and Morty, “Promortyus” (save for the whole new egg bursting from the stomach part) in that they deploy spores (produced asexually) that latch onto an entity’s face in order to create a psychic bond/access dreams/memories… stuff like that. It’s weird. These spores are also able to grow to different sizes, with some expanding to the size of a building (as seen in The Suicide Squad trailer.)
Starro first appeared in Brave and the Bold #28 way back in 1960, created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky, and is notable for being the first villain to face the original Justice League of America comprised of Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter (Batman and Superman were indisposed in that particular issue). In its first appearance, Starro arrives on Earth in the form of a very large starfish and multiplies, using its mind control powers to lure people to the ocean to kidnap and absorb their brain power, place oceanside areas under their mental control and explode an atom bomb to absorb its energy. After multiple individual battles, Starro is thwarted by a young teen named Snapper Carr who is immune to its telepathic abilities due to his being covered with Quicklime, a chemical used in repelling starfish from oyster traps which the League uses to cover Starro with and cause it to wither and die, though a segment initially survives and regenerates into a full creature before being defeated by the mighty Aquaman.
Naturally, since this is a comic book villain, Starro reappears time and again to battle the Justice League and suffers humiliating defeats via fresh water (!), dreams and -at one point in the ’80s- death by battle with a rabbit hero named Captain Carrot. He even popped up in the Justice League 3D Ride at Warner Bros. Movie World in Oxenford, Austrailia, which we didn’t know was a thing until this very moment. (Thanks CBR.com and check out footage from the ride in the player below!)
Most famously, Starro took on the Justice League in Justice League of America #189 where it created dozens of duplicates of itself that managed to latch onto the faces of Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Red Tornado, Black Canary and Firestorm, subsequently putting them under its control. As it turns out, Red Tornado’s computer mind is revealed to be immune to Starro’s psychic control, allowing him to escape long enough to team up with Zatanna, who aptly uses ice to destroy the smaller duplicates and freeze the big guy.
Now, what does all this have to do with The Suicide Squad? Our prediction: the squad, consisting of Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and Harley Quinn, are dispatched to Corto Maltese to eliminate a threat. Except, the mission turns out to involve a mysterious alien species (Starro) that has multiplied and latched itself onto a number of soldiers it then uses to mount a full-scale attack. The DC Fandome sneak peek showed brief images of soldiers covered in starfish (see below), which obviously bear a striking resemblance to the character’s comic book shenanigans.
Now, another theory involves the Thinker (played by Peter Capaldi, and seen in the ominous poster below).
Another history lesson (Narrated in my best impression of Zack Snyder’s Justice League Gal Gadot flashback voice): In the comics, a young man named Cobi was able to overcome the Star Conquerors on his own planet via some extreme measures and turn them into his own personal weapons, earning the name Starro the Conqueror in the process. He also got a bad-ass helmet, an enormous axe that would make Conan blush and his own chest-mounted starfish.
As stated, Starro uses telepathy for his nefarious means, which happens to mirror the powers of the Thinker, who also happens to reportedly be one of the villains of the film. Therefore, what if the Thinker is essentially Starro the Conqueror, albeit changed for theatrical reasons? The character’s poster seems to allude to his ability to control the starfish, not to mention the idea itself sounds outlandish enough for Gunn to latch onto.
Fun tidbit: Zack Snyder might have alluded to Starro in his own Justice League cut by way of that weird starfish-like device that latches itself onto Steppenwolf’s victims in order to read their mind, which is pretty cool whether it was intentional or not.
So, there you go. Obviously, there’s a lot more history revolving around Starro and his many comic book appearances over the years, but this should at the very least help clarify why there is a giant starfish walking around the hilarious, bloody and beautifully R-rated The Suicide Squad trailer.
Now, what do you think? Are we close, or so far off that we might as well jump into an ocean and stick a starfish on our faces? Share your thoughts in the comments below!