The States- David Harbour: A Man of Two Geek Universes having one great year- Starring in both “Suicide Squad” and “Stranger Things”
August 22nd, 2016- by Comic Book International
Needless to say, it’s been a great year–heck, a great summer–for actor David Harbour. In a single summer, the forty-two year old star has cannon balled into the deep end of on-screen geek lore. First, it was mid July when all 8 episodes of Netlfix’ Stranger Things dropped for streaming. The internet lit up instantly with fanfare for the masterful 42 min episode series format, mashing up an authentic 80s suburban setting with thoroughly inspired imagery, tone, and story homages to 80s Spielberg and 80s horror as well. Not to mention, the fanfare for performance on the series, David Harbour’s at the top of the list. Then, not even a month later, Harbour appears in DC/Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad opposite the brutal Amanda Waller played powerfully by Viola Davis.
In Things, Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine, of course, led the 80s charge with their main roles. But, among a cast of mostly middle and high school aged actors, there was yet another grown up among them who stood out strong: David Harbour as Hopper. Harbour plays chief of police in the sleepy wooded suburb of Hawkins, Indiana, perfect for an 80s Spielbergian sci-fi mystery/drama.
We meet Chief Hopper early in episode 1 of Stranger Things and Harbour’s performance is completely on-point from then until the end of the last episode. Things’ creators/showrunners, the Duffer Brothers, did not skip a beat when writing for Hopper. A cop character in any form can easily be a one sided brut with no personality or human side. Instead, the Duffers give us a side of Hopper we can’t help but feel sympathy for. Although we first meet a scruffy, solitary, pill abusing drinker in a trailer, we later learn his own young daughter died of cancer. Flashbacks of Hopper with his sick daughter in the hospital are brilliantly cut with the running narrative of the show’s ending (For peace of mind about spoiling the season ending, we find out much earlier than the last episode that Hopper’s daughter died).
Without giving away any major story points, we see a side of Hopper so vulnerable in flashbacks that he is literally crying alone in the corner at one point, for his sick daughter. Harbour knocked it out of the park in scenes like these. Also, he couldn’t have performed the tough guy cop better, and the sensitive friend, the conspiracy theorist; the multitude of personality traits Harbour played was remarkable and seamless in Stranger Things.
On the Suicide Squad side of things, David Harbour is Dexter Tolliver. Remember the line in the trailer?
Gentleman, ladies: what if Superman had decided to fly down, rip off the roof of the White House, and grab the president right out of the Oval Office. Who would’a stopped him? (IMDB.com)
That’s our boy. Harbour plays alongside the DCEU’s (DC Extended Universe’s) new villain circus ringleader, Amanda Waller. In other words and in short, Waller is the ruthless leader in charge of “Task Force X” i.e., the Suicide Squad of villains we’ve all at least seen in the trailers. Harbour didn’t get a whole lot of screen time in Squad–very different from his main, crucial role in Stranger Things–but when he is on screen in this movie, he’s nothing but solid.
Viola Davis’ performance as Amanda Waller was a great match for a professional like Harbour. Each scene with these two suit wearing characters is just as interesting as those involving costumed characters, because we need the suits and the pant suits to give us a human point of view. The rest of the movie is filled with inhuman elements of super abilities, super strength and comic booky imagery. Harbour and Davis, however, kept the story as close to earth as possible for us human viewers. Their characters were very real and very believable (even within a world of comic fiction like this). Yet another reason Harbour’s and Davis’ performances are impressive in Squad: their acting stood out just as much as any cast member’s and that’s without hours of makeup, tattoos, masks or revealing outfits.
As for the future of David Harbour in said geek universes? Well, SPOILERS ABOUT STRANGER THINGS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT: If the Duffers are sequalizing season 1’s story for season 2, then you know there’s plenty more for Hopper and Harbour to do. Let’s leave it at that.
In the DC ‘verse, please feel free to comment and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Harbour’s character as Dexter Tolliver lives through Suicide Squad. That means that the almost certainly-going-to-happen Squad sequel (in one form or another, even if in the form of a Harley Quinn/Joker story) most definitely should have room for David Harbour. Hopefully, even more this time, especially after seeing his aforementioned range of acting displayed in Stranger Things.
Season 2 of Stranger Things has been confirmed; A Suicide Squad sequel has yet to be confirmed, but a Harley Quinn-centric film led by the Clown Princess of Crime herself is in talks–Margot Robbie back to star and likely to produce.