The Suicide Squad’s David Dastmalchian has made 2021 a standout year, with four appearances in comic book projects alone.
Amid the latest episode of What If…? is a name that’s become much more known to comic-book fans this year but who has been a part of the landscape for quite some time. David Dastmalchian reprises his role as Kurt, one of Scott Lang’s friends in Season 1, Episode 5, “What If… Zombies!?,” and scores a number of funny moments in a story largely given over to horror.
It’s far from the most high-profile appearance the actor has made this year, even without including his upcoming turn as Piter De Vries in Dune. But it’s the fourth comic-book project he’s appeared in 2021, and his eighth overall, including parts in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the so-called DC Expanded Universe. Here’s a look at all the superheroic roles Dastmalchian has played in his career.
Thomas Schiff in The Dark Knight (2008)
Dastmalchian’s nearly wordless performance in The Dark Knight is a textbook example of “no small parts.” He plays one of the Joker’s henchmen, disguised as a police officer who participates in the seeming murder of Jim Gordon. In an ominous harbinger, Harvey Dent abducts and tortures him in an effort to find the Joker. The role is notable precisely because it’s so memorable, with Dastmalchian eerily wordless against Dent’s increasing unhinged rant. In the shadow of Heath Ledger’s swan song and against Aaron Eckhart’s equally impressive performance, he somehow turned an anonymous pawn into someone worth paying attention to.
Kurt in Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
The “wombats,” as Hank Pym puts it, are the sort of characters intended to be throwaways. Kurt is one of Scott Lang’s friends — an expatriate Russian hacker and low-end criminal who helps the hero break into Pym’s house and aids in the raid on Pym Tech at the end of the first Ant-Man. He also helps found X-Con Security with Lang and his other friends and succeeds in apprehending Sonny Burch at the conclusion to Ant-Man and the Wasp. Kurt’s intended as comic relief, but true to form, Dastmalchian helps him stand out in a crowded field, and his reappearance in “What If… Zombies!?” is proof that the character has staying power.
Dwight Pollard in Gotham (2017)
Dastmalchian returned to the Joker’s service in a two-part episode of Gotham, playing a disciple of Jerome Valeska’s who plots to return his leader to life. He leads a mob of protean Joker followers, and his propagandistic mantra keeps their insanity alive until he can return Jerome from the dead. Ironically, he adopts his leader’s persona — and face — after believing his efforts have failed, only for a resurrected Jerome to kill him for presuming to emulate his act. Pollard is a quiet revisit of Dastmalchian’s Dark Knight role, as well as a reminder that working for the Joker usually ends the same way for everyone.
Abra Kadabra in The Flash (2017)
Kadabra, or Phillipe, is a 64th Century criminal from a parallel Earth who uses his advanced nanotechnology to commit crimes in the present. He first appeared in The Flash Season 3, Episode 18, “Abra Kadabra,” when he became trapped in the 21st Century and crossed swords with the Flash in an effort to steal the technology required to return to his own time. Dastmalchian played him with snickering certainly, and the knowledge he holds about Flash’s greatest nemesis is enough to get Barry’s attention. The character returned to the show in 2021 in Season 7, Episode 4, “Central City Strong,” where he had a turn of heart before being killed by a mysterious force.
Calendar Man in Batman: The Long Halloween (2021)
Calendar Man is the Hannibal Lecter figure in The Long Halloween, a seemingly second-rate Batman villain locked up in Arkham who’s somehow connected to the holiday-based string of murders that has Gotham in terror. And he plays to the actor’s strengths — Calendar Man is quiet yet unbearably intense and relishes all the attention Batman gives him over the bigger names in his rogue’s gallery. He’s as chilling as Kurt is comical and demonstrates that the actor has a lot of future potential in the genre.
Polka-Dot Man in The Suicide Squad (2021)
In a move that has become quite typical for the actor, The Suicide Squad once again finds Dastmalchian competing with a lot of bigger names and flashier characters. But his quiet Polka-Dot Man is both the film’s most sympathetic figure and its most terrifying –the victim of scientific experiments from his monstrous mother giving the ability to destroy matter with blobs of energy. Regardless, he finds redemption in the film’s climactic battle with Starro, and as someone with far more villains than heroes on his resume, the character’s triumphant claim that he’s a superhero might have arisen just a little from the actor himself.
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The Suicide Squad’s David Dastmalchian Is King of the Movie Multiverse