Amanda Waller sends two teams to Corto Maltese in The Suicide Squad. It was always her intention for one of them to be sold out by Blackguard.
In The Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller’s plans appear to be damaged by Blackguard’s betrayal at the start of the movie, but his actions were part of her ploy all along. David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (2016) set Waller up as a quasi-villain for the franchise. James Gunn’s soft reboot doubles down on this concept to make her a thoroughly unsympathetic figure.
Waller sends two teams to Corto Maltese as part of her plans for The Suicide Squad. The first, larger team, lands to the south and while most of them are huddling on the beach to plan their attack, Blackguard (Pete Davidson) runs into the open, announces their presence, and reveals that the majority of the Corto Maltese army is waiting for them in the trees. As he tries to explain to the army that he was the one who called to tip them off to the attack, they shoot him in the face and Rick Flag explains to Waller that Blackguard has sold them out. This distraction leaves the way clear for team 2, while leading to the death of most of Team 1.
Blackguard’s betrayal allows The Suicide Squad’s first act to open on a truly gruesome action sequence, some ridiculous death scenes for many characters, and a demonstration that Waller has a lack of respect for the lives of Task Force X. However, it also demonstrates that this was Waller’s intention the whole time. Here are all the clues to just how dark Waller’s plan truly was.
Blackguard Couldn’t Sell Them Out Alone
In the DC comics, Blackguard (real name Dick Hertz) is a minor villain and displays below-average intellect, at one point taking a Faustian deal from a demon to be granted average intellect. This is consistent with Davidson’s brief portrayal of the character in The Suicide Squad. Most notably, he needs help from T.D.K. to put on his seatbelt, he displays extreme naivete in expecting the Corto Maltese army to accept him, and he questions whether or not the somehow-surviving Weasel might be a dog of some variety. Furthermore, if his plan had worked, Waller would presumably have activated the bomb in his skull and killed him immediately anyway.
It would be difficult for anyone within the Belle Reve prison to contact the Corto Maltese government to sell Task Force X out, and it seems particularly unlikely that a man of Blackguard’s intellect could complete that task alone. Even if he had been able to find a means of contacting Corto Maltese, he would not have had the full details on the mission that he and his fellow Task Force X members were about to be sent on. However, he displays enough gullibility that the Nick Fury-esque Amanda Waller could easily have manipulated him into selling Team 1 out while thinking it was his own idea. When Flag reports Blackguard’s betrayal, Waller steels herself and denies a retreat, but notably does not look surprised.
Waller Needed The Distraction To Be A Success
For Amanda Waller’s plan, as outlined to Team 2, to be a success, it was necessary for Team 1 to provide a sufficient distraction. Presumably, the Corto Maltese army is normally spread out across the island running various patrols. If Team 1 had dropped on the beach without the army being alerted, it would be possible that the group would be able to sneak through those patrols without detection. At best, they would have created a small distraction and had more of the patrols on the island mobilize towards their position without dying spectacularly in a blaze of glory.
To ensure that The Suicide Squad’s Team 2 had a clear line to get established on the island, Waller needed the distraction to be bigger than that. By having Blackguard tip the enemy off, she was able to ensure a significantly larger distraction that led to the entirety of the Corto Maltese forces being focused on the southern end of the island from the start. Without Blackguard’s tip-off, she would have needed a completely different plan.
Waller Only Briefs Team 2
Perhaps the most telling evidence that Waller expected Blackguard to sell Team 1 out to the Corto Maltese is the fact that she only provides a complete briefing to team 2. During the flashback at the start of The Suicide Squad in the chapter “3 Days Earlier,” Waller provides complete mission details and objectives to Bloodsport and his team. When they arrive on the island, they are fully aware of their plan to capture The Thinker, infiltrate Jotunheim, and destroy what lies within.
In contrast to this, Team 1 are told almost nothing about their mission. When they are in the air on the way to the island, Waller tells Rick Flag “get the whole team safely to that beach, colonel. You’ll receive further orders once there.” The fact that even Rick Flag is kept in the dark about the plans for their future indicates that Waller does not plan on any of the members of Team 1 making it beyond the beach.
Waller Wanted Team 1 Dead
Of course, Amanda Waller could have achieved her goals through other tactics. A diversion could have been made without sacrificing several lives, or the mission could have been more stealth-oriented. However, she wanted all the members of Team 1 dead. She has previously expressed her disdain for the lives of villains, and team 1 is specifically made up of people who are either relatively useless or a particular nuisance to her.
Characters like Javelin, Savant, and T.D.K. have few skills or powers and are really only useful to Waller as a distraction. While skilled, Harley Quinn has caused repeated problems for Waller, both as part of a previous Task Force X and through her repeated escape attempts. Waller was likely even trying to rid herself of Rick Flag. Flag has grown to respect villains like Harley and would be likely to oppose Waller on ruthlessly killing them. Furthermore, Waller’s plan to have the evidence of US involvement in Starro’s presence in Corto Maltese destroyed by The Suicide Squad goes against Rick Flag’s moral code and she likely knows this.