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Not Your Shero: Amanda Waller, the HBIC of Suicide Squad

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Aug 11, 2018

Everyone loves a hero, but we worship a good villain. Strong women come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, and sometimes that means looking up to a character who has no interest in being your role model. All this month, we're presenting Not Your Shero, a series that celebrates anti-heroes, villains, and all the women way too busy wreaking havoc to save you.

“I, a black woman, might save the day, but please know it's because I have things to do and saving the day just so happen to align with my schedule.” - Amanda Waller, probably.

Amanda has never outright said this, but there is a good chance she would because it's true. Waller isn’t here to save anyone. She is in charge of Task Force X, aka the Suicide Squad, and it takes this kind of attitude to keep criminals in line for the greater good. Amanda Waller is not your hero. She is not your friend. She is the wall you will not dare to try.

Waller has a tragic origin story, but it's a peek into why she operates in the manner she does. After losing two of her children and husband to gun violence, Waller uses her tragedy to propel herself and her remaining children through college. She begins working for a congressman named Marvin Collins, working her way up the political ladder until she eventually gets a job in the employment of the President — who then puts her in charge of a special task force later known as the Suicide Squad.

Unlike Storm, who has often been regulated to den mother-like roles within the X-Men (a discussion for another day), Waller has taken that trope and subverted it. As the HBIC of the Suicide Squad, it would be easy for her to have been written in a mammy-like role. Instead, Waller is quick to remind those who interact with her that she's not there to be their surrogate mother. In Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #39, written by John Ostrander and Kim Yale, Waller corrects Poison Ivy quickly when she refers to her as "mama."

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Waller was clearly having none of it, and rightfully so. She is not anyone’s mother, friend or therapist. She's not even required to be nice to them. She is there to do her job and to make sure that everyone she is in charge of does theirs to her satisfaction. They may not like her in return, but they learn to defer to her. Den mothers don’t blow off people's heads; Waller does so without hesitation.

Anyone who stands up to Batman constantly and consistently is worthy of stanning. Waller has done so throughout her interactions with the gliding vigilante, informing Batman that he isn’t the only with files and contingency plans at the ready.

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Batman isn’t the only person she gives the third degree to either. Colonel Rick Flagg gets it daily when he tries her. Waller deals with men with inflated egos, but she keeps the deflation needle on her always.

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Even though she rubs everyone the wrong way, there is a great respect for "The Wall," a sign that those around her understand that she walks it like she talks it for good reasons and she’s in her position because of that. In Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #43, written by Ostrander and Yale, Deadshot is hired to kill Waller but doesn’t as a result of his admiration for her. She in return offers to match the bounty put on her head plus one additional dollar for Deadshot to go back and kill the person who sent him. Waller truly did not come to play with anyone.

Even her acts of kindness, to put it lightly, are more for her benefit than the person on the receiving end. After Squad member Vixen experiences a tragedy, her ensuing revenge mission happens to overlap with a mission Waller has assigned. As a result, Waller brings Vixen in, but not out of a sense of obligation. Instead, she views Vixen as a viable asset to the team she's assembled — nothing more, nothing less. Amanda Waller is not here to save anyone, but if it aligns with her schedule, consider yourself lucky.

Waller's unwavering commitment to making sure justice is served with a bullet and a glass of merlot is PEAK Not Your Shero. Plus, anyone willing to place a kryptonite bomb in General Zod’s head deserves all the respect.

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If you need saving, you better hope Amanda Waller’s Google Calendar happens to sync up with that. The Wall just simply doesn’t have the time and has better things to do.

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