Warning: This post contains major plot points from the film, so please don’t read if you want to remain unspoiled.
Going into Suicide Squad, much of the attention rightly focused on Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn as the breakout member of the dysfunctional, dastardly ensemble. And while Robbie’s Maiden of Mischief figures prominently, it’s another female character — one with comparatively little pre-release publicity — who emerges as the film’s most formidable: Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress.
When the team codenamed Task Force X is assembled, government puppetmaster Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) singles out the Enchantress as the linchpin, exponentially more powerful than the others, yet also the biggest wildcard. The challenge is reining in the source of her powers — an ancient demon-witch that has inhabited the body of a young woman with an only-in-the-comics name of June Moone.
Unlike Harley, Deadshot (Will Smith), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), et al., the Enchantress is not an inveterate reprobate. In the movie, June Moone is an archeologist who, while exploring cavernous ruins, discovers a curious idol and, like any scientist on a voyage of discovery, proceeds to snap off its head. That unleashes the entity trapped within, which immediately possesses June.
The two have come to an uneasy detente — whenever June mutters “Enchantress,” she is transformed into the physical manifestation of the spirit, wielding serious magic. But June doesn’t have full command of her inner sorceress, forcing Waller to deploy a fallback plan. She believes if she controls the Enchantress’s heart, she can control the Enchantress. To that end, she finds the idol burial site and recovers an artifact identified as the spirit’s heart; for extra insurance, she also manipulates beefcake special-forces soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) into falling for June.
Related: The Secret History of Harley Quinn
But the Enchantress can’t be contained so easily. She eventually goes rogue, releasing a second trapped-in-an-idol spirit — that of her brother, a.k.a. Incubus — into a random dude. Because his heart is intact, he’s at full strength and helps his sister regain her regal form, create an army of gooey-headed minions, and build a “machine” to wipe humanity off the Earth. It’s up to the remaining members of the Suicide Squad to use their combined might to neutralize the sinister siblings.
“For me, it was particularly complicated because my love story was also very interconnected with the mission,” Kinnaman explains to Yahoo Movies. “So the mission of the film for me was to kill the love of my life.”
By the end, Task Force X has destroyed Incubus and released June from the Enchantress; however, as the film’s mid-credits scene hints, the Enchantress may not be gone.
“We don’t know,” Kinnaman tells us. “Maybe that was just one incarnation of the Enchantress that died, and the spirit is still alive.”
If the comics are any indication, there’s a good chance we haven’t seen the last of Enchantress. While the Suicide Squad movie deviates a bit from her comic-book adventures, it’s worth taking a quick look back to gain some additional insight on the character.
DC’s Enchantress (not to be confused with the same-named Marvel Comics character who is one of Thor’s notable adversaries) dates back 50 years, to the April 1966 issue of the sci-fi anthology series Strange Adventures. Here, June Moone is an artist who attends a costume party at Terror Castle, discovers a secret chamber, and winds up imbued with mystical powers bestowed on her. The origin story established that by saying “Enchantress” she could transform into her alter ego, billed on the cover as the “Witcheroo-Switcheroo.”
After a handful of appearances in the ’60s, she was virtually absent from comics until the 1980s, when she emerged in issues of The Superman Family (tangling with Supergirl) and DC Comics Presents as a more villainous figure.
When Suicide Squad (initially a heroic team formed in 1959 to combat supernatural threats) was rebooted in 1987 as the now-familiar band of baddies by Waller and Flag at the behest of Ronald Reagan, Enchantress became a founding member alongside Deadshot and Boomerang. Writer-director David Ayer borrows from one of that era’s early story arcs, the “Nightshade Odyssey,” where it’s discovered that the evil spirit inside Enchantress is Succubus, sister to Incubus. They are the children of the ur-demon Azhmodeus and have the ability to open portals to other dimensions. Though the elements of the comic-book plot are more intricate than Ayer’s celluloid vision (and the filmmaker’s awkward subplot of Rick and June being in love is mercifully nonexistent), the bones are still there.
Over the course of her comic career — which continues to this day — Enchantress has been both villain and (anti)hero. Through it all, however, she has remained one of the most powerful denizens of DC’s comic universe, and it would be hard to believe that she’s been fully dispatched from the cinematic one.
Especially if Delevingne has her way: “I mean, for June’s sake, I hope she’s free,” she tells us. “But I’d also love to play the Enchantress again and have another crack at destroying the world.”