Just a few years ago, King Shark was an unknown in the mainstream conscience, as even self-proclaimed pop-culture nerds probably weren't aware of DC's lumbering underwater monarch. Despite appearing in comic books from 1994, King Shark has never been a top-tier member of any Justice League characters' rogues gallery, which is a bit of a shame. As such, it may be a bit of a surprise to see him in Rocksteady Studios' Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League.

Over the last two years or so, King Shark has slowly made his way into the world of mainstream pop-culture, largely due to his appearance in the Harley Quinn animated TV show and the new The Suicide Squad movie. While these are both properties that have been very well received, King Shark is still a character on the periphery of the current comic book landscape. Still, if there's any team that can propel somewhat unknown comic book characters into the spotlight, it's Rocksteady Studios, the team behind the Arkham series of games and the upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, which is set to feature King Shark in one of the four playable roles of the game.


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A Nerdy, Nautical History Lesson


Before a deep dive into the character's current influences and how they might affect the gameplay of Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, it's important to take a look back at where this larger than life character came from. King Shark first appeared in November 1994, in "Superboy #9". Born the son of a literal "Shark God", King Shark, whose real name is "Nanaue", often faces off against Batman, The Flash, and Aquaman.

King Shark is one tough villain, often boasting super strength, a healing factor, sonar senses, and a resistance to telepathy. However, he hasn't always been a villain. Following the "Infinite Crisis" event, one Aquaman story ("Sword of Atlantis") paints King Shark as more of a reluctant hero, assisting Aquaman in various adventures.

The "New 52" continuity (one of DC's rebooted series) is likely to be the most familiar to new fans of the character, with it being the inspiration for James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, where King Shark is forced to join the task force by Amanda Waller. In the current "Rebirth" continuity, King Shark predominantly appears solely as a villain, acting as an undersea crime lord and commonly working alongside a staple Aquaman adversary, Black Manta.

The Best Influences

King Shark in The Suicide Squad and Harley Quinn

From a personality perspective, King Shark has varied quite a bit from adaptation to adaptation. In the earlier comics, he tends to be a silent and violent enemy, whereas in the later comics he is portrayed as more of a stoic and human-like being. In recent media, King Shark has had two very different portrayals, each with their own unique personality traits that, if combined in a careful way, could make for the perfect character in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League.

In the witty and sharp animated Harley Quinn TV show, King Shark takes on a primarily comedic role. While he can show some more brutal sides, the majority of his screen-time is spent cracking jokes and commenting on the absurdity of whatever situation the crew find themselves in. He also acts as a close friend of Harley's, occasionally giving her surprisingly emotive advice that fans might not have expected from the character based on his comic counterpart.

In James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, however, King Shark appears a little closer to his comic book alternative, only uttering a maximum of a few words with every on-screen appearance. Whilst these minimal lines of dialogue are used for humor, it's mainly at King Shark's expense, with many of the jokes centred around him being both literally and figuratively a fish out of water. During action scenes, however, King Shark is portrayed as an exceptionally brutal character, ripping foes into several R-rated pieces. This juxtaposition between his seemingly timid personality and his savage actions makes King Shark an oddly compelling character in the movie.

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Brutal, But Funny

For Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League to have the perfect iteration of the character, Rocksteady needs to take in all the King Shark influences it can and combine them to create a brutal but endearingly funny character whose personality contrast makes him a unique force. The game can achieve this in a number of ways, both through its narrative and dialogue as well as through actual gameplay and mechanics.

From a narrative perspective, Rocksteady can easily illustrate King Shark's humor. During cutscenes and through dialogue in the missions themselves, King Shark can be subjected to a variety of outlandish situations; the core of his humor comes from just how absurd the character is by nature, so it wouldn't take much to make his actions comical, especially when you have the rest of the Squad (Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang and Deadshot) being able to chip in with self-referential jokes about the situation at hand.

From a gameplay standpoint, King Shark could have access to some unique mechanics that would reinforce that core theme of "brutal but funny". For example, his movement speed could be lower than his other squadmates, but his damage could be so high that it devastates most enemies in a single hit, therefore capturing that core theme in a tangible mechanic, and reinforcing it through actual gameplay. On a similar note, Rocksteady could make King Shark's takedown animations pretty gnarly, which would further cement the ruthless nature of the character.

Rocksteady has already proved that it can tackle even the most obscure DC characters and make them interesting and memorable (take Azrael for example), and the groundwork for King Shark has already been developed with excellent adaptations. As such, it seems safe to assume that Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League will cement King Shark's place among the current slate of popular comic book characters.

Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League is set to release in 2022 for PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S

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