‘The Suicide Squad’ King Shark Wasn’t Influenced by the ‘Harley Quinn’ Character

James Gunn brought a less-explored corner of DC Comics to life with the movie The Suicide Squad, introducing characters like King Shark. The blood-thirsty and yet somehow adorable demigod (real name Nanaue), delighted audiences. King Shark isn’t entirely new to modern audiences, though. He appears in the animated TV series Harley Quinn. But the two iterations are very different.

King Shark in ‘The Suicide Squad’

The Suicide Squad: Starro grabs King Shark
Starro and King Shark | Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics

King Shark is having a moment. The unusual, land-based shark is the son of an ancient shark god, making him a demigod. Currently, he can be seen in both The Suicide Squad and the animated series Harley Quinn. He’s also slated to star in a comic book series and a video game soon. 

In The Suicide Squad, the character is depicted as a funny, lovable, proud shark who is also very dangerous and eats humans whole. If that doesn’t sound very appealing, Gail Simone, a writer for DC Comics who wrote King Shark stories, can explain the appeal. 

 “Imagine you went to a dull party, and you have a choice to bring along either an accountant friend from work, or a 7-foot-tall carnivorous fish who tells jokes and proclaims his shark-hood every few minutes,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “Which one is going to be more popular?”

In Harley Quinn, King Shark speaks in complete sentences and is shown to be more capable with technology, while The Suicide Squad version is more brutal. But which one came first?

King Shark in ‘Harley Quinn’ didn’t come first

On Twitter, a fan asked Gunn if he’d ever thought of making King Shark “a smarter version like in the Harley Quinn animated show.” Gunn explained that the timing of the two projects made it impossible for him to pattern his character off the animated version.

“I wanted to make him the intelligence of what an actual human shark hybrid might be,” Gunn replied. He also noted that The Suicide Squad script was written first, “so that wasn’t a reference – even though I adore that show,” he added.

Since The Suicide Squad was written before Harley Quinn aired, both versions were created independently. And when you compare them, the differences between the two shark demigods make that even more clear. 

According to Screen Rant, not only is the Harley Quinn version smarter, but he’s also a bit more morally sound than the rest of the team. On the other hand, The Suicide Squad’s King Shark is stronger and harder to beat. 

And according to Gunn, his King Shark is voiced by an actor who truly makes him come to life. 

The character was voiced by a famous actor

In The Suicide Squad, King Shark is voiced by longtime movie star Sylvester Stallone. The casting choice seems to have been the right one, because audiences love him. There’s a good reason the role fits him so well, but the match almost didn’t happen. 

Gunn tweeted that he wrote the part with Stallone in mind, but despite this, he was nervous about asking him. Yet he couldn’t seem to make it work without him. 

“But we actually recorded the role fully with three other actors – 2 voice actors & one talented screen actor – none of which quite worked – until I asked Sly to do it,” he tweeted.

In the end, Stallone’s rendition of King Shark seems meant to be. Although even Gunn “adores” the animated Harley Quinn version, audiences love The Suicide Squad one too. It seems there’s room for more than one violent demigod shark in the DC universe. 

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