Chris Messina's Character In 'Birds Of Prey' Has An Unexpected Backstory
Birds Of Prey, the sort-of Suicide Squad sequel, centers on a supergroup of female DC characters from Harley Quinn to the Huntress who come together fight Gotham's latest kingpin, Black Mask (Ewan MacGregor). Black Mask is a wealthy, power hungry figure. And his partner-in-crime, Victor Zsasz, is even creepier. He's a killer who carves a tally mark into his skin for every murder he commits. While little information is given into Zsaz's backstory in the film, the Chris Messina character is a sinister staple in the comic books.
In his literary origin story, Zsaz is a beloved only child of millionaires who has his entire world turned upside down when his parents die tragically. He In Batman Chronicles #3 it's revealed that after his parents died in a boating accident, Zsaz fell into a deep depression, gambling his own and his parents' fortune away. His low point came when he walked into the Iceberg Lounge — owned and operated by Batman villain the Pengui — and betting his remaining money on a rigged game, he lost everything. Penniless and hopeless, he realized his life was driven by desire, and ultimately empty.
About to kill himself by jumping from the Gotham Bridge, Zsasz was confronted by a homeless man asking for money. Zsasz refused, but when the homeless man tried attacking him, Zsasz instinctively grabbed his knife and stopped him. The man becomes his first kill, and Zsaz instinctively carves a mark into his skin to note the occasion.
Messina isn't the first actor to portray Zsaz on the big screen. On TV's Gotham he was played by Anthony Carrigan. There he's a polite, deadly efficient hitman working for Gotham's biggest crime syndicates. He's still utterly ruthless, but has a greater penchant for rules, regulations, and orders, obeying them to the letter. Whereas in Messina's hands, Zsaz becomes a more distant, maniacal, and all-around devilish figure.