The Suicide Squad Has Its Own Groot and Baby Groot, at the Same Time
Brandon Zachary
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Suicide Squad, now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.
The Suicide Squad balances the non-stop grisly action and spectacle with a broad sense of humor that leans dark but often-times subverts expectations. The expansive Task Force X loses almost half their full roster within the first fifteen minutes of the film, there are plenty of gross-out gags played around the slaughter of various villains, and it generally embraces a chaotic tone. But there are softer edges around the film (even if they do still come with plenty of henchmen murder), with director/writer James Gunn even finding a way to incorporate two innocent-esque characters for the audience to fall in love with.
Gunn's The Suicide Squad doesn't just have one Groot-like figure -- it actually finds a way to give DC its own grown Groot and Baby Groot-type characters: King Shark and Sebastian the Rat.
King Shark is one of the members of the Suicide Squad recruited for the attack on Corto Maltese, sent in with the second team (and therefore able to avoid much of the bloodshed that takes out the majority of the Squad). He quickly establishes himself as a bizarre, somewhat dim-witted and vicious figure, eating their enemies and even at one point coming close to killing and consuming his teammate Ratcatcher II (Daniela Melchior). But after a conversation with Ratcatcher, King Shark agrees to see his teammates as his friends -- and accepts that he has to be okay with not eating his friends.
For the rest of the film, King Shark is portrayed as deadly in a fight and a strong physical force for the team, but full of a goofy earnestness that slowly gets through to his teammates. He builds a little plastic explosive duplicate of Peacemaker (John Cena), who criticizes him for it but does seem somewhat touched at the effort. He also wins over Ratcatcher and is later seen enjoying the absurd sight of a colorful type of sea life within a tank inside Jotunheim. It's at these moments that King Shark most feels like Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, a well-meaning but seemingly dumb force of nature who can bring down enemies with ease. Both are lovable and unstoppable doofuses and quickly prove endearing.
He plays much of the same role on the Squad as Groot did with the Guardians of the Galaxy, becoming the muscle and the charming simpleton who's still supremely effective at what he does. And he isn't even the only Groot-like figure in The Suicide Squad, with the film finding its own version of Baby Groot (an adorable and well-meaning sidekick who became a fan-favorite element of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) in Ratcatcher's beloved chief pet rat, Sebastian. The little rodent is frequently shown exhibiting small amounts of knowledge (such as waving at people) and cutesy charm and is repeatedly shown trying to win over Bloodsport, who is revealed to have an intense fear of rats due to his father.
Sebastian gets to be a minor vehicle for comedy in the film, bringing levity to the proceedings in a way similar to Baby Groot's antics in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In essence, The Suicide Squad allows Gunn to insert variants of both fan-favorite incarnations of Groot into another superhero movie, albeit with a certain edge added to them thanks to the inherently more violent and visceral tone of The Suicide Squad.
To see how King Shark and Sebastian compare to Groot and Baby Groot, respectively, The Suicide Squad is in theaters now and streaming on HBO Max.