Anybody who went to see filmmaker David Ayer’s Suicide Squad this weekend who isn’t knee-deep in Rebirth comics and graphic novels might have done a confused double take. “Hmmm, gigantic reptile man that most resembles a crocodile who is also a villain in a big budget comic book movie?” they might have asked themselves while scarfing down popcorn.
While Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc may have been the fifth most important member of the Squad, he’s also the second crocodilian villain to grace the silver screen in just four years. That double take might have come courtesy of non-comic-fans still jaded enough to remember the big green bad guy from the ill-fated reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, which featured the less-pulpy and more straightforwardly named Lizard taking up the antagonist mantle.
So why the redundancy of two literally cold-blooded bad guys? Like most things in Hollywood these days it all boils down to the DC/Marvel divide. Both comic book behemoths have had their versions of the same characters for years. Marvel’s got Ant-Man, DC’s got Atom; Marvel’s got Black Cat, DC’s got Catwoman; Marvel’s got Thanos, DC’s got Darkseid; Marvel’s got Hawkeye, DC’s got Green Arrow — and so on. It’s a common occurrence in comics, but it doesn’t happen often in pairs of conflicting serpentine cinematic villains. Here’s a quick primer to remind your friends how to tell the two apart for the continuing endless string of comic book movies.
Curt Connors — aka our favorite Lizard — apparently lost an arm during wartime in the comic books, which brought him to New York to try and develop a serum to grow his missing appendage back using an accelerated process of reptile regeneration. His tests worked on growing little rodent feet back, and it worked when he tried it on himself with just one side effect: It turned him into a gigantic monster who suddenly decided to fight Spider-Man. Killer Croc (née Waylon Jones) is likewise an adversary of a major superhero — this time it’s Batman — but unlike Lizard, and kind of like Lady Gaga, Mr. Croc was, well, born that way. He’s a cannibal born with a condition that turns his burly frame into hideous crocodile-like features, No wonder he’s a super-villain.
Curt Connors is a doctor with a genius-level intellect who does his Jekyll and Hyde thing by turning from a famed scientific researcher into a homicidal maniac and back again. He’s constantly in conflict with his bestial mind which adds a more complex level to this reptilian Robert Louis Stevenson ripoff than Killer Croc.
That dude has been on the outs ever since his atavistic condition began, and his lack of intelligence is probably his biggest weakness. As he grows more and more into the Croc persona, the mutation of this high school dropout makes him constantly more animalistic. He’s squarely in the henchman category by all counts.
If you’re a hulking monster, it’s probably a given that you’d have super strength. What superhero doesn’t have super strength? Honestly, if you’re a superhero that lacks the ability to toss endless numbers of faceless dudes into or through walls, then you have no business being in the pages of comic books.
Needless to say, Liz and Croc (our nicknames for them) have superhuman strength, but they both also have counteractive defensive powers that are just as important. Lizard can regenerate pieces of his body, which is a result of the viral serum he injected himself with in the first place. Croc has a limited capacity to regenerate, but mostly gets by with bulletproof scaly skin. And hey, both have got to be excellent swimmers at least. Killer Croc and Lizard for the 2020 Olympics perhaps?
They both fundamentally differ on the Marvel vs. DC front, but their main adversaries aren’t too far off. There’s a big difference between a reclusive billionaire and an indoor kid high schooler, but they’re also misunderstood masked crusaders that help those in need in a gigantic metropolitan area. As far as his own baddie crew, Lizard is on what’s basically the JV squad in what’s known as the Sinister Twelve (as opposed to the Sinister Six, which rolls off the tongue a bit better) featuring villains like Mac Gargan Vulture, Sandman, Electro, Chameleon, Hydro-Man, Shocker,Hammerhead, Boomerang, Tombstone, and Green Goblin. Killer Croc teams up with his own band of rejects in the Suicide Squad.
General Reptilian Demeanor
On the big-screen, Lizard killed Gwen Stacy’s dad before Spider-Man unleashed an antidote on Connors rendering him lizard-less in a jail cell. Killer Croc helped defeat a 6,000-year-old witch and ended up watching BET in his jail cell. It’s totally up to you who wins in these scenarios, but Croc is and always will be a reptile-man.