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There seems to be some consistency in between The suicide group director James Gunn and his younger brother Sean Gunn that when he casts him in one of his films (even though he already plays a human), he should also play a furry animal character. The former Gilmore girls cast, who have both played Kraglin and performed on-set motion capture for Rocket Raccoon in the Marvel movies, also have a double duty to the new Suicide Squad cast as the Batman villain Calendar Man and a freaky, furry thing called Weasel. This strange, dangerous creature is actually portrayed in his DC movie debut a bit differently than how he was portrayed in the comics … at least in the beginning, that is. In fact, the beginning is exactly where we need to start researching Weasel’s “graphic” history.
Weasel was originally a human disguised as an animal in DC Comics
Created by author Gerry Conway and artist Rafael Kayanan, Weasel made his DC Comics debut in June 1985, but not as the strange mutant that Sean Gunn plays in The suicide group. In the comics, Weasel, whose real name is John Monroe, is actually a human who wears a costume similar to that of his mammalian namesake when he performs his latest crime story.
You might be wondering why John Monroe would choose a creature that is so small and quite adorable, to really base his supervillain persona on. If you assumed it was because of its carnivorous appetite or the Japanese superstition that suggests the weasel is a warning of misfortune, I can tell you it has nothing to do with either. In fact, the true origin may be a little darker.
Bullies from Weasels College Days inspired his Supervillain Alias
In John Monroe’s DC Comics debut, a look back at the 1960s shows him as a student at Stanford University, where he was treated as a bit of an outcast by people who constantly harassed him and gave him a derogatory nickname. Do you want to guess what that name was? If you said “Weasel”, give yourself a pat on the back. But what exactly inspired Monroe to channel this traumatic memory into a life of crime.
Years later, John Monroe would become a teacher at Vandemeer University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where many of the same people who bullied him at Stanford were also employed. Somehow convinced that his former classmates might pose a threat to his tenure, Monroe decided to come back to them with a furry revenge. Wearing his self-made costume and referring to himself as the creature that his classmates cruelly branded him as, Monroe sought them out and brutally murdered them one by one.
Weasel’s Archnemesis was the superhero’s firestorm
I did not mention earlier exactly what the DC cartoon Weasel first appears in, which is number 36 of The rage of the firestorm. The title superhero of that series, Firestorm, debuted for the first time in 1978 and was the alter ego of teenager Ronald Roy “Ronnie” Raymond. A nuclear accident caused him to merge with Nobel Prize-winning physicist Martin Stein into one being with a halo of fire around his head and a wide enough array of superpowers to compete with Superman.
Firestorm would become John Monroe’s arch-enemy after he got in the way of his murderous vandalism as Weasel. As it turns out, Monroe was actually a former colleague of Martin Stein, who turned into the superhero when he was subjected to Weasel’s attack. After apprehending the villain, he was imprisoned in Belle Reve – a prison in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, which also happened to be a base for operations for Task Force X.
Weasel died during a conflict between the suicide patrol and the doomsday patrol
The ending in Belle Reve put John Monroe on the radar for Amanda Waller (Academy Award winner Viola Davis’ character in The suicide group) who thought he might be of some use to Task Force X. She enlisted him to help the Suicide Squad rescue Hawk – the alter ego of Henry Hall, not to be confused with Hawkman of the Justice of Society of America – on a mission it would actually be both his first and last with the team.
Doom Patrol was actually on the tail of the suicide squad and thought they were out to kill Hawk. This sparked a violent conflict between the two teams that also drove Weasel to purposely kill The Thinker (played by Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi in The suicide group. Rick Flag (as Joel Kinnaman repeats in the new movie) put an end to the tirade when he murdered Weasel, and also put an end to his story in DC Comics … or so it seemed.
Weasel’s Corpse was revived as a member of the Black Lantern Corps
After his not-so-sad death in Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special one-shot from March 1988, Weasel would actually be revived a few more times in DC Comics. The first time would literally be a resurrection from the other side of the grave.
The crossover event in nine parts by Geoff Johns Blackest night, which ran from July 2009 to May 2010, sees the Green Lantern Corps take on the eerie Nekron, creating an army of resurrected corpses as part of its plan to eliminate all life and emotion on Earth. One of the zombified villains brought back by the power of the Black Lantern ring was Weasel, as seen in Batman-led number 3 of the event.
Weasel was reinvented as a real furry creature in 2011
The second time Weasel was “resurrected” in DC Comics took place during The new 52 rebooted in 2013. But instead of a post-mortem resuscitation, this return saw a complete reinvention of the character as the consummate human-animal hybrid who would become one of the new Suicide Squad members in James Gunn’s film.
His first return took place in a 2013 issue of Forever hurt, also by Geoff Johns, where the itchy, trapped and furry John Monroe tries to assault Steve Trevor (Chris Pines wonder Woman character) and Killer Frost. However, he gets stopped when Killer Frost freezes him alive before mentioning how he was never really considered much more than a joke among his villainous peers.
Whose Guardians of the Galaxy movies have proven something to us, that is, James Gunn is a master at giving underrated cartoon characters a second chance in the spotlight. What he’s done for Weasel in his equally bizarre supervillain team-up epic, The suicide group – now in theaters and available to stream HBO Max – is no exception.