Since the release of Suicide Squad a couple of weeks back, we’ve seen some pretty… mixed reviews of the new DC movie. From the infamously low Rotten Tomatoes rating to the petition calling for the website to be shut down as a result of that, it’s clear that the film’s been a controversial addition to the DCEU.
No matter what your views on the movie are, it’s undeniable that Suicide Squad introduced us to a plethora of characters into the DCEU that can be explored further.
One particular character we should all get to see more of is Katana, whose first appearance in The Brave and the Bold back in the ’80s gives us a lot of background to venture into that goes beyond Suicide Squad and into the lives of both existing DCEU characters and potential future ones, too.
There’s an Amazing Backstory to Her Sword
We know from Suicide Squad that Katana’s sword ‘traps the souls of its victims’. Previously, it belonged to her vengeful brother-in-law, Takeo Yamashiro, who was jealous of his brother Maseo for being Katana’s preferred choice of husband. The brothers had both shown interest in Katana (who was then known as Tatsu), and as a result of his romantic advances being declined, Takeo refused to attend their wedding, and joined the Japanese crime group known as the Yakuza. Clearly he didn’t handle rejection well.
Takeo’s success in the Yakuza led to him purchasing a pair of matched swords – one of these swords had magical abilities, and became known as Soultaker. Sound familiar? This was Takeo’s favoured sword.
It was then Takeo that took the time to visit his brother, who by now had started a family with Tatsu – twin daughters Yuki and Reiko. It was a pleasant visit – he stayed for dinner, spent time with his nieces and apologised to Tatsu and Maseo for his behaviour. They forgave him, and everything was perfectly fine.
Of course, I’m joking. Takeo challenged Maseo to a duel for Tatsu’s honour, murdered him with Soultaker, accidentally started a fire that killed the children, and left Tatsu to escape on her own and watch everything she loved die. She did get to keep the sword with her dead husband’s soul in it though, so that was nice.
Now a widow, Tatsu decided to spend her free time training as a samurai under master Tadashi. With her new sword-fighting skills and the martial arts training from her younger years, Tatsu took up the codename Katana and left for America, where she planned to use her abilities to fight for good.
Adding Takeo and the Yakuza into the DCEU would be a great opportunity to expand upon Katana’s background – it could help bring more sense to the short flashback scene we saw of hers in Suicide Squad, or even just allow the audience more insight into why her husband’s soul is trapped inside her sword. This doesn’t necessarily have to be explored in a Katana solo movie – it could be looked into in a Batman solo film, due to the characters’ close ties to each other through the superhero team, the Outsiders.
Batman and the Outsiders
When Batman became irritated with the Justice League’s concern for public appearance, he separated himself from them and formed the Outsiders, who were to be more efficient in responding to threats. Katana was a dedicated member of this team of superheroes. Originally, their HQ was set up in a Gotham City under Batman’s leadership; it’s here that Katana’s past catches up to her and she has her final encounter with Takeo.
The Outsiders has bundles of material to work with – particularly so when it comes to developing Katana’s character. Haunted by her tragic past, the ghosts of her husband and children return to her in a variety of unpleasant forms, forcing her to relive the the horror of their deaths multiple times.
Making the Outsiders a part of the DCEU would be an excellent way for the audience to sympathise with Katana and bond with her more as a character, and if not the entire Outsiders team than perhaps just taking some aspects of their story – such as the confrontations with Takeo, or perhaps her close relationship with Halo – would be a more subtle way of adding more of Katana’s background into the films.
With Batman being a major aspect of the DCEU, not linking him and Katana together would be a huge waste of some great material. Even during times when the Outsiders are disbanded, Katana still fights alongside Batman, notably during the Day of Judgement and assists him and Superman when they’re declared outlaws. If anything, this would be the most logical way of making Katana a bigger part of this DC universe.
Karen Fukuhara’s Connection to Katana
With Katana being a highly trained swordsman and martial artist, you’d think the actor playing her would rely heavily on a stunt double to do a lot of the work for her, but in Karen Fukuhara’s case, she did nearly all of her own stunts. As a high school karate champion, trained sword fighter, and a former translator herself, Fukuhara was the perfect choice for the role of Katana.
Not only this, but Fukuhara feels a close connection to Katana due to the common ground they share when it comes to their Japanese upbringing; in Playboy’s ‘No Filter’ segment, she said this:
Katana and I may not have the same personality, but coming from the same cultural upbringing, we share core values. […] Someone recently told me how refreshing it is to see an Asian woman as a superhero. That stuck with me.
What Fukuhara had to say about the introduction of an Asian woman as superhero being a refreshing change is also a powerful message. In the recent light shed on the age-old habit of Hollywood whitewashing Asian characters in movies, seeing the addition of Katana into the DCEU is an important one, and giving her a larger role within the universe would be a great opportunity to give some much-needed representation of Asians in film.
Additionally, Fukuhara also mentioned how playing a samurai warrior was a big deal for her, as all the samurai she’d seen in the media before had been male. Looking at Katana from this perspective, you can begin to see how her character could have a large impact on Asian women and girls too, as she defies the typical female Asian stereotype and gives a new and exciting kind of role model for them to look up to.
As you can see, there are many reasons Katana should have an important role in the DCEU’s future. By exploring Soultaker, we get the opportunity to look into her origin story, too, allowing fans of the DCEU to get a little closer to Katana. Her ties to Batman and the Outsiders highlights the perfect opportunity to explore her work as a hero in the DC universe, and giving her a larger role within the DCEU. All of this makes even more sense when you consider that Karen Fukuhara is incredibly talented, passionate about the character and keen to provide great positive Asian representation.
There are, of course, further reasons why Katana should be given more screen time (her time in the Birds of Prey and the Justice League are some other great examples). For now, though, we have to hope that those at DC Films realise how much potential Katana has to be a fantastic part of their universe, and really take the time to let her grow in future movies.