Cougar: They started it.
A largely-unknown comic book series by Vertigo Comics about a Black Ops team who were betrayed by their handler, a CIA mastermind called Max, and presumed to be dead. Years later, the Losers come back for some payback. The series ran for 32 issues (August, 2003 - March, 2006). A film adaptation was released on April 23, 2010 that was pretty much just most of the first volume and some parts of the fourth.
Named after a DC Comics squad of the same name who fought in World War II, but are otherwise unrelated - the project originally began as a series revival featuring the original Losers reuniting for a caper.
- Clay: The leader.
- Roque: The second-in-command.
- Jensen: The hacker.
- Cougar: The sniper. Wears a cowboy hat.
- Pooch: The pilot. A family man.
- Aisha: The Ax-Crazy Dark Action Girl.
There are five volumes encompassing the entire story:
- Ante Up (2004)
- Double Down (2004)
- Trifecta (2005)
- Close Quarters (2005)
- Endgame (2006)
Tropes used by the comic book and the film:
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Aisha never betrays the team in the film, but in the book she uses them and then sells them out at the end for her own purposes.
- And the Adventure Continues: Gleefully subverted. Stegler offers the remaining Losers a job in a black ops unit he's putting together to take out the remainders of Max's organisation, but they grin and tell him to fuck off.
- Anti-Hero: The majority of the losers are Type IV. Aisha is a Type V.
- Anyone Can Die: And many do. By the end of the comic series, only two Losers are still alive... and all the bad guys are dead.
- Arc Words: "Vaya con Dios, angelitos."
- Ascended Extra: Wade only appeared in the first few issues of the comic before dying horribly. In the film he's Max's Dragon.
- Bad Boss: Working for Max can really shorten your life expectancy. In the movie, Max shoots an attendant just for fumbling the umbrella she's been holding over him on the beach. Later on, he has an entire special ops team eliminated (off-camera) just because Wade had already briefed them on the plan to kill Clay and his team; once the plan changed, they knew too much. And, of course, he spends much of the story trying to get the Losers, who had been working for him albeit unwittingly, killed or otherwise out of the way.
- Badass Bookworm: Jensen, especially in the movie.
- In the first arc of the comic, Clay has to remind him that he's a highly trained Special Forces operator during a moment of panic.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Since this series is mostly about the CIA, this trope pops up quite commonly, with the most noteworthy examples being Clay, the leader of the Losers, and Max.
- Bait-and-Switch: Both instances of Behind the Black, below.
- Beard of Evil: Wade. Roque is an interesting case - he has a goatee in the flashback to Afghanistan, when he was still part of the team, but has shaved it off during the main events of the book, which is when he openly works for Max.
- Behind the Black: The book's London arc opens with close-ups of Clay, Jensen, Pooch, and Cougar tersely discussing their situation, acknowledging they're surrounded by enemies, hopelessly outnumbered, and need to work out a way to get through them. The POV then pulls back to a wide shot, and it turns out they're debating how to get through a crowd to the bar.
- The movie shouted this out in its own way. The team was huddled in a bush with the rain pouring around them, talking about a time-sensitive mission and Pooch getting to "the package" under any circumstances. Pooch then scales up the side of a building, gets in through a window, and enters a room...just in time for his wife to give birth to his son.
- Big Damn Heroes: Couple times. The Losers for the children and later Aisha for the Losers.
- In the finale of the comic, Pooch shows up to save the team from the oil rig, although only Jensen makes it.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Losers stop Max's plan to start World War III and ensure global American dominance, but Aisha betrays the team and kills Clay by dropping a WP grenade next to him. Cougar is mortally wounded trying to escape, and ends up detonating a nuke to destroy Max and his country. Aisha's last appearance has her fighting 100 of Max's goons with no indication thst she got far enough away from the blast in time. Jensen and Pooch manage to make a clean getaway and it's made clear nobody who wants them dead knows they survived.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Aisha.
- Break the Haughty: In the film Max does escape but the team know his name and face, ruined his plans, killed his books and he even gets mugged by some random street thugs on the bus he's using for his getaway.
- Bring It: Aisha is told 100 men will be sent to stop her. Her response is "Send them." She then shoots one in the head and says "99."
- Bring My Brown Pants: The goon Aisha steals an outfit from wets himself in terror. For that, Aisha slits his throat.
- Brick Joke: In the movie (see Real Men Wear Pink below). After the first appearance of the Petunias tee, Jensen is shown doing research on their opponents, the Marigolds—which turns out to be comprised entirely of Huge Schoolgirls. Later during the credits, we see the actual match.
- Another: while hiding out in Bolivia, Cougar and Jensen go to work in a factory making "Girls of America" dolls. Later, after Aisha shoots Jensen, the team breaks into a pharmacy to patch him up—and the first thing we see is a whole shelf of those dolls.
- After they find out that the drive they got is a courier drive with $400 million on it, Pooch says they should get a jet. Jensen corrects him and points out they can't use the money, but if they could, his suggestion would be a canary yellow stretch Hummer. Come the end of the movie and what do they find for the getaway vehicle? A canary yellow stretch Hummer.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In the movie, Max does not remember setting up anyone and has no idea who Clay and his team are. Wade has to remind him about Bolivia for Max to even get a vague recollection. Max claims he can't be bothered to remember every time he has someone betrayed and/or killed.
- California Doubling: A rare double subversion. The entire film was shot in Puerto Rico, including a segment set in...the Port of Los Angeles.
- Car Fu: Twice in the Montserrat part of the book. The first time Clay takes out a paratrooper in mid-air. The second time they hijack a tilt-a-rotor by driving into it...and on top of the unsuspecting welcoming committee.
- Call-Back: "We appreciate you meeting us at a single-story facility," from the scientist whose coleague was thrown off the 57-story roof earlier in the film.
- Chekhov's Gun: The team chases Max's forces out of Pripyat, forcing the latter to leave behind their final nuke, so naturally the Losers snatch it up to avoid it falling into the wrong hands, only for it to vanish while in storage. It returns with Fahd in the finale and is used by Cougar to blow up Max's oil rig with him in it.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The militant Fahd, who Aisha bails out of American custody, returns for the final arc in a BIG way. So too does the Sheik the team initially encountered in Qatar.
- Changed My Mind, Kid: After the disastrous mission where he lost a few fingers, Pooch quits the team. He later pulls off a Big Damn Heroes moment to save Jensen in the finale.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Roque inflicts this on Pooch in Pripyat.
- Cold Sniper: Cougar is a partial example because, even though he is the quietest of the group, he does show emotions and even called off an air strike because there were children in the compound.
- Companion Cube: Pooch's bobblehead chihuahua in The Movie.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Andy Diggle said that when he envisioned the main characters, he "cast" certain actors in the roles: George Clooney (Clay), Ving Rhames (Pooch), Brad Pitt (Jensen), Benicio Del Toro (Cougar) and Jean Reno (Roque).
- The Dead Have Names: Clay remembers the names of the chopper crew who were killed when Max tried to kill the Losers, and laments that he never learned the names of the children who went down in the same explosion.
- Dead Man's Switch: Max arms the sonic bomb by pressing and keeping his thumb on the button. Releasing it resumes the countdown, which is already under 10 seconds.
- Death of a Child: Has Max blowing up a helicopter full of children been brought up yet?
- Destructo-Nookie: Clay and Aisha's hotel-room duke-out looks like the roughest foreplay imaginable.
- Dirty Coward: Max, when finally confronted in the last arc. Both of them.
- Disney Villain Death: Roque and the first Max are dispatched this way via a shotgun blast through a window and tackled by a flaming Clay off an oil rig, respectively.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Wade is The Heavy for the first arc and gets thrown into a jet turbine, at which point Roque becomes Maxs Dragon.
- The Dragon: Max has one in The Movie, named Wade.
- In the comic book Wade is killed fairly early in the story, and Roque becomes The Dragon to Max.
- Dramatic Necklace Removal: (Movie again.) Done by the Losers themselves, throwing their dogtags into the wreckage of the copter to get themselves pronounced KIA.
- Drugs Are Bad: The first time the Losers meet Max, he's smoking opium in a drug trafficking town in the tribal region of Afghanistan. He even offers Clay some. Many of Max's endeavours are also paid for by drug-smuggling.
- Duct Tape for Everything:
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Cougar.
- Empathy Doll Shot: The burning teddy bear in the helicopter wreckage.
- Mr. Fanservice: The whole team. (Including Aisha.)
- Even Bad Men Love Their Extended Families: Movie Wade is not pleased with being ordered to kill some random team he assembled to take down the Losers for this reason. One of the team members is Wade's brother-in-law, but he insists this isn't a dealbreaker.
- Evil Is Hammy: Jason Patric as Max seems to get the idea, but doesn't fully exploit it. Shame.
- Eye Scream: Roque learns not to fuck with Clay in close quarters.
- FaceHeel Turn: Roque, in the first arc. Aisha also betrays the team in the final arc, killing Clay.
- The Faceless: Max, in the comics. He only shows up in cameos until the end, but always obscured in some way. Even in Clay's flashback to the Afghanistan mission that doomed the team, he's obscured by a thick cloud of smoke.
- Female Gaze: The women on the floor Jensen's elevator accidentally stops on while his, ahem, dangly parts are exposed. They can't be blamed, though: Chris Evans is Mr. Fanservice to the umpteenth degree.Jensen: You ladies liking the angle of the dangle?
- Finger Gun: Jensen in the last part of the movie's office infiltration scene.
- It's in the book, too.
- Fingore: In the book, Roque introduces a pair of wire cutters to Pooch's pinkie.
- Friend to All Children: Cougar.
- Gangsta Style: Cougar and Roque, during the hotel room shootout with Aisha.
- Given Name Reveal: When Roque captures Pooch, the latter tries to appeal to his friend and calls him Jean-Claude.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Clay smokes cigarettes. Max smokes cigars.
- Government Conspiracy: The Max codename goes back to the start of the Cold War, has ties to numerous US and foreign agencies, and can apparently buy out a drug town in the tribal areas of Afghanistan.
- Gory Discretion Shot: See Fingore. And be grateful.
- Gun AND Knife Porn: What the Losers are wagering while playing Liar's Poker.
- Guns Akimbo: After overpowering the guards and forcing their van to crash, Clay pops out the back with a machine gun in each hand.
- Hacked by a Pirate: Jensen often has to break into systems on a timetable, but if he's on his own schedule, he likes to work wearing a pirate hat. And only a pirate hat.
- Heroic BSoD: Cougar's experiences at Fadhil's complex turn him from being as talkative as Jensen into the quiet type.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Cougar, mortally wounded, stays behind on New Jerusalem with the nuke to take out Max and his entire army of lackies.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Max was originally created to ensure and protect American dominance through less-than-legal means, but during a Villainous Breakdown he tries to order a nuclear strike on Washington.
- Hidden Badass: Jensen. It shouldn't be hidden, since he is part of an elite Special Forces unit like the rest, but his demeanor, attitude, and tech support role make others underestimate him. And yet he's the one who finally kills Roque for good.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Oh man, where to start? The men who call in an airstrike on the team when they have grenades, just 'cause, only to find that Jensen reconfigured the strike's coordinates to on top of themselves? Or the Arab militant who accidentally fires an RPG in the air and doesn't notice until too late that it's coming back down? Or...you know what, just expect there to be a lot of them, complete with Oh, Crap! and This Is Gonna Suck moments.
- Huddle Shot: The above poster for the film.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Cougar is just that good.
- Innocuously Important Episode: During the London arc, Jensen and Cougar invade a decommissioned WW2 missile platform where an audacious guy named Dave has declared himself king, knowing hes in international waters and thus untouchable. The narrative at that point is more focused on the fact that Roque has returned, but this turns out to be Foreshadowing Max's endgame.
- Insult Backfire:Roque: See you in hell, Pooch.
Pooch: I'll be waiting.
- It's Personal with the Dragon: To Clay and Pooch, Roques betrayal is felt just as much, if not more, than what Max did to the team.
- Jerkass: What Max is to literally everyone around him.
- Kick the Dog: How else do you explain blowing up a helicopter full of children? Of course, the movie is one long continuous Kick the Dog moment for Max.
- Knife Nut: Roque's Establishing Character Moment consists of pulling out a big knife as his stake in the poker game, then pulling an absolutely HUGE knife to raise the stakes.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Camera-guided, anyway. After Roque captures Pooch and cuts off one of his fingers, he prepares to blow his head off. Then Jensen, remote-piloting a bomb-disposal drone, shoots Roque with the drone's shotgun.
- The Last DJ: Agent Stegler is a textbook case.
- Le Parkour: Jensen and Cougar, when infiltrating Max's Port of Los Angeles hideout.
- Letterbox Arson: The Losers hijack an armoured car full of cash. They dump gasoline through the ventilator, dousing the guard and the cash. They then open the door and point out to the guard that if he fires, he will set both himself and the cash on fire.
- Male Gaze: All the guys (those in the audience included) for Aisha. But can you blame them?
- Mexican Standoff: Aisha vs. the Losers. Includes a Funny Moment from (an unarmed) Jensen:Jensen: Ohhhhh...shit. She's got a gun and... it's pointed at my dick. CLAY, IT'S POINTED AT MY DICK!!
Pooch: Would you rather it was pointed at your face?
Jensen: I KNOW IT MAKES NO SENSE, BUT YES!
(Aisha aims at his face)
Jensen: Not... really.
- Motor Mouth: Jensen, who never stops talking.
- Socially Awkward Hero: He also tries (and fails) to pick up women at the worst possible times. Like when Aisha is cleaning her gun. Or when an EMT is helping him from the wreckage of a truck crash (supposedly). Or while stealing data from a highly secure office building
- The Movie
- Mugged for Disguise: Aisha holds up two guards for the uniforms, but kills one instantly. Then she kills the other for wetting his pants.
- Mythology Gag:
- Max in the Movie sometimes wears a white glove or a black glove on his right hand depending on the scene. This is because in the comics, Max is actually two people who are twins.
- Also Max going from plunging unto the water to being on a bus within 5 minutes, is also possibly invoking that.
- The movie sets the mission that Max betrays the Losers at in South America. In the comic, it was originally planned to be in South America, before it was changed to Afghanistan.
- There's a Shout-Out to the original comic in the comics; Clay shares a surname with one of the original Losers, and he mentions that his grandfather was in World War II. Pooch is named after the dog kept by Gunner and Sarge of the original squad, as well.
- Never Found the Body: Lampshaded when Roque turns up alive and well unexpectedly and belts the crap out of Clay, telling him to always check for a body. Clay takes it to heart; after a later episode wherein the hunt for Roque winds up sinking a couple of ships, someone asks if Clay thinks Roque is dead. Clay says he won't believe it until he sees a body. It finally takes Roque being shot on-camera and in-person-witnessed by Pooch to make the team stop worrying.
- In the final scene of the comic, Pooch and Jensen are talking about how it's almost impossible Aisha could've killed a hundred men and escaped New Jerusalem before the nuke went off. But they can't be totally sure, because it's Aisha they're talking about.
- Nice Hat: Cougar: "Never touch the hat."
- Jensen gets one too. A PIRATE hat. Of course, the situation he uses it in, well...:Clay: Jensen, I have to ask... are you hacking in your undies again?
Jensen: No way, Jose! I'm wearing a HAT.
- Jensen gets one too. A PIRATE hat. Of course, the situation he uses it in, well...:
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The team giving a bunch of kids their seats on an evacuation vehicle gets them blown up.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Just about every volume has at LEAST one.
- Non Sequitur: Jensen gets off a doozy in the movie.Jensen: Did you know that cats can make one thousand different sounds and dogs can only make ten? Cats, man. Not to be trusted.
Pooch: You know what? Do me a favor—NEVER say that again.
- Nonverbal Miscommunication: When on top of a tall building, villain nods to his agent, who then throws a businessman down. Villain then "complains" that it wasn't that kind of nod and he just wanted the agent to beat the victim.Max: What the hell was that?
Wade: You gave me "the nod".
Max: A "hit him in the face" nod, not a "throw him off the roof" nod!
Wade: I thought that's what you wanted.
Max: At most, at most, that was a "break his fingers" nod! Jesus, Wade, the man was a scientific genius! Granted, his weight signaled some impulse control issues, but that's no reason to throw his fat ass off 57 floors.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: In the movie Wade claims to be fine with killing some goons who know too much even though one is his brother in-law.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Max is described to have the ability to be in more than one place at a time. 'Cause he is twins.
- Oh, Crap!:
- In the book, Pooch points out that the drone behind Roque is equipped with a shotgun. And Jensen is remote-aiming it at him.
- Come to think of it, there's a LOT of moments like this.
- Only in It for the Money: Roque sells out the rest of the team in a heartbeat for ludicrous amounts of cash, leaves Wade to die when saving him could endanger Roques escape with the money, and even in the flashback to Afghanistan, briefly goes off-mission to extort an Afghani smuggler into giving him cash in the middle of a firefight.
- Outrun the Fireball: with a schoolbus in the opening of the movie.
- Overcrank: At some point during every fight sequence, usually several times.
- Overly Long Gag: Between the Big Bad and The Dragon, in the movie: "Get me an eighteen-man fire team in twelve hours." "By the way, get me an eighteen-man fire team, in twelve hours." "Did I mention?..." And so on.
- Power Walk: After Aisha sneaks the Losers back into the US. In coffins.
- Powerful People Are Subs: Aisha follows her target (the immensely feared warden of a Hellhole Prison) to the brothel where he goes to be dominated. She waits until the dominatrix has his tied up before entering, chases the woman out, and takes a moment to note the irony of a man who is so feared and has literally decided if others live or die on a whim being in such a predicament. Then she goes to work on him Jack Bauer style.
- Precision F-Strike: As permitted by the PG-13 rating.
- President Evil: Max's grand plan.
- Put on a Bus: Roque disappears from the story after the airport fight in Texas during the book's first arc, and he is presumed dead by the team. He returns in the London arc.
- The Quiet One: Cougar. It's even Lampshaded when they sneak aboard Roque's boat, as he was the one Clay trusted most to go unnoticed and let the rest out of a cargo container where they had to hide.
- Race Lift:
- Aisha goes from Afghan to Bolivian. Though she still has an Arabic name, so maybe she's an Afghan who just happens to be in Bolivia.
- In the comics, Cougar is shown as having blonde/brown hair, and generally Caucasian features. In the movie, he's much more explicitly Hispanic. The actor is Spanish, while the character may or may not be Mexican (cowboy boots & The Hat? Not exactly native Iberian wear, here...)
- Also in the movie, Roque is African American, while his ethnicity is less defined in the comics. Andy Diggle apparently based Roque off Jean Reno.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Literally in The Movie with Jensen in a Petunias (his niece's soccer team) tee. "What? They're in the playoffs..."
- Red Right Hand: Max in the Movie has a nasty burn on his right hand, so wears a glove on it almost all the time. The glove is sometimes black and sometimes white.
- Reluctant Mad Scientist: The Indian scientists making Max's island destroying weapon in the film are at least partially motivated by knowing that he'll kill them if they refuse (although their leader at least still is out to get paid for it).
- Sadistic Choice: Lampshaded in the climax of movie.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: A core theme of the series. This black ops team WILL defy their orders to do the right thing. Disobeying orders to save some children from certain death is how their story started. Interestingly, it causes conflict within the team as well. When Clay and Aisha are considering sacrificing a rescue helicopter's crew to follow Roque to Max, Pooch protests in horror, and Cougar slips away to attacked Roque outright and blow that plan. Clay chews him out for disobeying orders, apparently unaware of the irony.
- Sedgwick Speech: A mook even uses the "couldn't hit an elephant at this distance" line shortly before getting a bullet in the head.
- Shoot the Money: The sequence on top of the telescope seems to have been put in purely to amp up the "exotic locale" factor.
- Shout-Out: Jensen sneaking through an office, even saying "I need an exit."
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: In the film, as Max is giving his speech to Clay about not being able to shoot him. Clay proceeds to shoot Max in the shoulder mid-speech.
- Shut Up, Kirk!: In the book, Clay is stalking Wade through a hangar, ranting about how he knew it would come down to the two of them. Wade says "You talk too much" and shoots him through the shoulder.
- Single-Minded Twins: Max.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: Aisha is suspected of being one initially, but then it turns out Roque is really The Starscream and Aisha goes all Big Damn Heroes on them. In the book the same thing happens at the start, but then right at the series conclusion she reveals that she's been one all along, and now they've served their purpose she doesn't need to save them.
- Sky Heist: The team attack a Vulnerable Convoy, bringing it to a halt in the middle of the street. While the armoured car is stopped, they fly over it in a helicopter, lower an electromagnet on to the roof, and then fly off with the truck suspended below them.
- Small Girl, Big Gun: Aisha bailing out the Losers with an RPG. More like Regular Girl HUGE Gun, really.
- The Sociopath: Max kills people, including children or his own assistant just because she fumbled while holding an umbrella over him with detached amusement and an unjustified sense of superiority.
- Spanner in the Works: Aisha in the first arc. And in the final arc, she does it again. Fahd also returns to screw everything up.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Clay, Cougar and Max. And Aisha. Maybe. It's not clear if she died in the book.
- The Spook: Max is treated like this during the first half of the comic book's run, with several characters doubting that he even exists.
- Steal the Surroundings: The eponymous group steal an entire armored car to obtain the hard drive it was carrying.
- Taking You with Me: Clay to Max. It works. Sort of.
- The Team:
- Third-Person Person: Pooch. Lampshaded:Pooch: The Pooch may lie, the Pooch may steal, the Pooch may...
Jensen: The Pooch may refer to himself in the third person?
Pooch: Occasionally, but the Pooch will not cheat.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "That's right, bitches! I got a crossbow!"
- Thrown from the Zeppelin: In the movie, Max is introduced talking to three scientists he wants to build his doomsday weapon. One of them angrily refuses on moral grounds and is thrown off the roof as the other two gape. This is played with though as Max actually only wanted Wade to beat the man up to make him change his mind, but noticing the stunned looks on the faces of the other two scientists, he says that it did serve some purpose. He then tells Wade to throw off a second scientist before the third man stops him and says that they'll do it for enough money and/or to save his colleagues life.
- Universal Driver's License: Pooch's specialty is exfiltration, which leads to him operating almost every conceivable vehicle. Cars, trucks, helicopters, boats, and at one stage even a tilt-a-rotor.
- War for Fun and Profit: One of the ways that Max gets his funding for his grand plan is P.A.M. (Policy Analysis Market) a special program that reads changes in the stock markets as a way of predicting terrorist attacks and also allows investors to earn huge profits by betting on the probability of said attacks. Max also runs a special outfit called P.2.O.G. (Proactive Preemptive Operations Group) whose objective is to provoke terrorism. You do the math.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: All of the other scientists who were working for Max in the movie aren't seen after he double-crosses them, taking their device and murdering their leader.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In the comic, The Losers' (particularly Clay's) reaction to Max, the CIA, and the entire conspiracy. The Losers may be a special forces team, but they're patriotic and against any criminal or hypocritical actions.
- With Catlike TreadRoque: Gee, I hope they don't see us sitting in this bright, banana-yellow Pinto.
Clay: Are you ashamed to be seen in an American classic?
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: An old favourite of the team and one of the first things we seen them do - posing as military in distress in order to hijack the rescue helicopter. The team are incensed when Roque uses the idea for his own aims much later.
- You Are Fat: A line from the movie.Max: Granted, his weight indicated some impulse control issues, but that's no reason to throw his fat ass off 7 stories.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Aisha hits the boys with this once it looks like Max is dead.