|The Suicide Squad|
|Directed by||James Gunn|
|Written by||James Gunn|
|Based on||Suicide Squad|
by John Ostrander
|Music by||John Murphy|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
The Suicide Squad is an upcoming American superhero film based on the DC Comics team of the same name. Produced by DC Films, Atlas Entertainment, and The Safran Company, and set for distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is intended to be a standalone sequel to Suicide Squad (2016) and the tenth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film was written and directed by James Gunn and stars an ensemble cast including Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, and Peter Capaldi. In the film, a task force of convicts are sent to destroy a Nazi-era prison and laboratory.
David Ayer was set to return as director for a Suicide Squad sequel by March 2016, but in December he chose to develop a Gotham City Sirens film instead. Warner Bros. considered several replacement directors before hiring Gavin O'Connor in September 2017. He left by October 2018, and Gunn was hired to write and direct the film after being temporarily fired by Disney and Marvel Studios as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023). He drew inspiration from war films and John Ostrander's 1980s Suicide Squad comics, and decided to explore new characters in a story separate from the first film's narrative, though some cast members do return from Suicide Squad. Filming began in Atlanta, Georgia, in September 2019, and concluded in Panama in February 2020.
The Suicide Squad is scheduled to be released theatrically and on the streaming platform HBO Max in the United States on August 6, 2021. Peacemaker, a spin-off television series starring Cena, is set to debut on HBO Max in January 2022.
Imprisoned convicts of Belle Reve penitentiary are sent as members of Task Force X to the South American island of Corto Maltese to destroy Jotunheim, a Nazi-era prison and laboratory which held political prisoners and conducted experiments.
Also starring in the film are David Dastmalchian as Abner Krill / Polka-Dot Man, a criminal who wears a suit covered with polka dots that are actually a variety of gadgets; Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2, a villain who controls rats including her pet rat Sebastian; Michael Rooker as Savant, a vigilante computer hacker; Alice Braga as Sol Soria; Pete Davidson as Richard "Dick" Hertz / Blackguard, a mercenary who is easily manipulated into ruining his own schemes; Nathan Fillion as Floyd Belkin / T.D.K., who can detach his arms from his body to use them as weapons; Sean Gunn as Weasel, an anthropomorphic weasel whose portrayal in the film is based on Bill the Cat from the comic strip Bloom County; Flula Borg as Javelin, a former Olympic athlete who wields javelins as weapons; and Mayling Ng as Mongal.
In addition to playing King Shark on set, Steve Agee portrays John Economos, the warden of the Belle Reve penitentiary and an aide to Waller. Also appearing are Joaquín Cosío as Mateo Suárez, the Major General of Corto Maltese; Juan Diego Botto as Silvio Luna, the dictator of Corto Maltese; Storm Reid as Bloodsport's daughter Tyla; Julio Ruiz as Milton, an associate of Task Force X; Tinashe Kajese as Flo Crawley; Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt, an aide to Amanda Waller; Taika Waititi in an undisclosed role; and the character Starro. John Ostrander, creator of the 1980s Suicide Squad team that influenced the film, appears as Dr. Fitzgibbon.
A sequel to Suicide Squad (2016) was expected in March 2016, before the first film's release that August, with director David Ayer and star Will Smith expected to return for a 2017 filming start after completing their work on Bright (2017). The following month, Ayer said the first film was rated PG-13 because it had originally been envisioned that way by the studio, and an R-rating needs to be planned from the start of a production. He said that it would be worth "lobbying" to make a sequel R-rated, as he felt the first film had the "edge" and "attitude" of an R-rated film already. Suicide Squad was released to a polarizing response and was reported to have a difficult production, but the film grossed enough for Warner Bros. Pictures to fast-track development of a sequel. In December, several spin-off films were also in development, including one featuring Smith as Deadshot. The project that was furthest along was Gotham City Sirens, with Margot Robbie planned to star as Harley Quinn. At that time, Ayer was set to direct and produce that film.
Warner Bros. began searching for a new director for Suicide Squad 2, and were courting Mel Gibson by mid-February 2017. Ruben Fleischer, Daniel Espinosa, Jonathan Levine, and David S. Goyer were also considered. Adam Cozad entered negotiations to write the film a month later, at which point there was still no director attached to the project. It was described as being a priority for Warner Bros. Script delays led to the planned filming start being pushed to mid-2018, at which point Gibson moved on from the project. Jaume Collet-Serra became the new frontrunner to direct in early July, by which time Zak Penn had pitched a new story treatment for the film to Warner Bros., and both Smith and Robbie were set to reprise their roles. Penn wrote a draft of a new screenplay for the film as a favor to the studio. Later in July, Collet-Serra was hired to direct Disney's Jungle Cruise (2021) and withdrew from directing Suicide Squad 2 after deciding he would rather originate a new story than continue an existing franchise.
In August, Jared Leto was expected to reprise his role as the Joker from the first film, while production was not expected to begin until Smith completed his work on Aladdin (2019) and Gemini Man (2019) in late 2018. The next month, Gavin O'Connor was chosen to direct the film and co-write it with his writing partner Anthony Tambakis, based on his own vision. The character Black Adam was reportedly the main villain of O'Connor's script, with Dwayne Johnson already attached to that role for DC Films. Michael De Luca joined the film as a producer in January 2018, working with the first film's producer Charles Roven. David Bar Katz and Todd Stashwick were co-writing the film with O'Connor in June, and they had completed their draft by that September. By early October, O'Connor left the film to focus on The Way Back (2020). This was reportedly out of frustration that Warner Bros. was already moving ahead with Birds of Prey (2020), a new Harley Quinn spin-off with a very similar story to the one he wrote for Suicide Squad 2. By then, Joe Manganiello had been attached to four or five planned versions of the film, with his Justice League (2017) character Deathstroke fighting Deadshot, but this did not eventuate.
In October 2018, James Gunn was hired to write and possibly direct the next Suicide Squad film. His deal with Warner Bros. closed following the completion of his exit settlement with The Walt Disney Company, after he was dismissed by Disney and Marvel Studios as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) in July 2018 when conservative commentators began circulating old controversial tweets he had made. Warner Bros. had been interested in recruiting Gunn for the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) immediately after his dismissal by Disney, and offered him a number of properties, including Superman. He chose to make a Suicide Squad film, and brought a completely new take to the project. In response, Ayer stated that he supported the decision, describing Gunn's hiring as a "brave and smart move" by Warner Bros. and calling him "the right man for the job". Dave Bautista, who starred in the Guardians of the Galaxy films for Gunn, expressed interest in appearing in his Suicide Squad film.
The day after he was hired by Warner Bros., Disney decided to reinstate Gunn as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He discussed his new DCEU commitment with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who encouraged him to "make a great movie" and agreed to delay production on Guardians until Gunn had completed work on the Suicide Squad sequel. In January 2019, the film was officially titled The Suicide Squad and was scheduled for release on August 6, 2021. The title was suggested by Gunn as a joke, but executives at Warner Bros. liked it. At that time, Gunn was in negotiations to direct the film, which was described as a relaunch rather than a direct sequel that would take the franchise in a new direction and feature a largely new cast. Roven and Peter Safran were set as producers, with Zack Snyder and Deborah Snyder as executive producers.
Gunn quickly produced several drafts of the script that Warner Bros. was "extremely high" on. When asked whether the film was a sequel or a reboot, Gunn described it as "its own thing" and said his film would not contradict the first Suicide Squad. Gunn acknowledged that film's negative reception, but defended Ayer's casting choices and focus on character which he said had added to this film as well. Gunn took inspiration for the film from John Ostrander's original 1980s run on the Suicide Squad comics, but described his script as more of a sequel in the same spirit as those comics rather than an adaptation of them. The film is R-rated, with the main characters often "splattered in blood". Gunn said each member of the Suicide Squad in the film was inspired by a different film genre, and explained that he was drawn to Ostrander's take on the team because each of his characters were "loser, B-grade supervillains". Gunn said it would be unclear whether some Suicide Squad members would turn out to be good or bad in the film, which differentiated it from his Guardians of the Galaxy films since the title characters from that series are clearly good, despite being described as a "bunch of A-holes". Safran called The Suicide Squad a "gritty 1970s war movie combined with the brilliance of James Gunn's characters and comedy", while Gunn said it was the superhero version of The Dirty Dozen (1967).
On February 27, 2019, Smith was revealed to no longer be in the film's cast due to scheduling issues, with filming set to begin in Atlanta, Georgia, that September. On March 1, Gunn met with Idris Elba to discuss him replacing Smith as Deadshot. Elba was Gunn's only choice for the role, and he wrote the script with the actor in mind which he rarely does for actors he has not met. Elba agreed to join the film during that conversation, and was in official negotiations the next week. Though Gunn's script mostly featured characters from DC Comics that were not featured in the first film, his script did include Robbie's Harley Quinn and Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flag in addition to Deadshot. Later that month, Jai Courtney revealed that he was returning as Captain Boomerang from the first film, and said The Suicide Squad would be fun but different from the previous version. In April, Viola Davis was also set to return from the first film, reprising her role as Amanda Waller. At the same time, the film's creative team decided that Elba would play a new character rather than Deadshot. This decision was made, following several weeks of discussions, to be respectful to Smith and to allow the option for him to return to the role in the future.
New characters from the comics that Gunn was reported to be introducing in the film included King Shark, Polka-Dot Man, Peacemaker, and a female version of Ratcatcher. Gunn was looking to cast Bautista as Peacemaker, but Bautista had a scheduling conflict with Army of the Dead (2021) and he wanted to work with that film's director, Zack Snyder. In late April, John Cena entered talks for a role in the film that was believed to be Peacemaker, while David Dastmalchian and Daniela Melchior were respectively cast as Polka-Dot Man and Ratcatcher. Gunn had wanted to cast Cena in a film after being a fan of his performance in Trainwreck (2015), and had been looking for the right role to cast him in for a while. Storm Reid joined the film's cast as the daughter of Elba's character in July 2019, with Flula Borg, Nathan Fillion, and Steve Agee joining the cast in August. Fillion and Agee both had roles in some of Gunn's previous films, and Agee was believed to be portraying King Shark in The Suicide Squad. Also in August, Taika Waititi entered negotiations for a role in the film. Peter Capaldi joined the cast in early September, when Pete Davidson was in talks to make a cameo appearance during a break from his work on Saturday Night Live. A table read for the film was held on September 11, ahead of the start of filming later that month, following which Gunn announced the film's full main cast: Dastmalchian, Cena, Courtney, Joaquín Cosío, Fillion, Kinnaman, Mayling Ng, Borg, his brother Sean Gunn, Juan Diego Botto, Reid, Davidson, Waititi, Alice Braga, Agee, Tinashe Kajese, Melchior, Capaldi, Julio Ruiz, his girlfriend Jennifer Holland, Davis, Elba, Robbie, and his frequent collaborator Michael Rooker.
James Gunn later revealed that Sylvester Stallone was the voice of King Shark, and he had written the character with Stallone in mind. Other new characters include Elba as Bloodsport, Braga as Sol Soria, Fillion as T.D.K., Davidson as Blackguard, Rooker as Savant, Sean Gunn as Weasel, Capaldi as Thinker, Borg as Javelin, Ng as Mongal, Botto as Silvio Luna, Cosío as Suarez, Reid as Tyla, Kajese as Flo Crawley, and Ruiz as Milton. Agee was the on-set reference for King Shark, and also portrays John Economos, the warden of the Belle Reve penitentiary. James Gunn also considered using the characters Sportsmaster, Dogwelder, and Bat-Mite. He chose not to use Kite Man because he felt the character was already a punchline in the comics and would not feel fresh for the film. When asked if he considered using the Joker, Gunn said he was not in the comic book team because Amanda Waller would not have any use for him, and this was also true for his film. DC allowed Gunn to kill off any of the film's characters.
Principal photography began on September 20, 2019, at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. Henry Braham served as cinematographer, after previously doing so for Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). Feige and Marvel Studios co-president Louis D'Esposito visited the set during filming.
Gunn used practical effects wherever he could, and stated that the film would use more practical effects and sets than any other blockbuster comic book film. Dan Sudick provided special effects on set, with prosthetics for the film created by Legacy Effects. Gunn highlighted a shot in the film where King Shark, who is created with visual effects, rips a person in half, which was a practical effect using special effects and prosthetics. Guy Norris served as second unit director for one scene in the film. Gunn explained that he rarely uses second unit directors on his films and has never liked working with them, but he enjoyed the experience of working with Norris. Filming in Atlanta was expected to last three months before transitioning to Panama for a month. Filming wrapped on February 28, 2020.
Fred Raskin and Christian Wagner served as editors on the film. Raskin previously worked on Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Kelvin McIlwain was the visual effects supervisor for the film, with visual effects vendors including Framestore, Weta Digital, Trixter, Scanline VFX, and Cantina Creative. By April 2020, Gunn was editing the film at his home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said had not affected post-production or the release schedule at that time.
In December 2020, Gunn said editing for the film's final cut had been completed and work on the remaining visual effects, sound, and score was continuing. The film had been fully finished by early February 2021, and Gunn said Warner Bros. had not interfered with his vision for the film and had only given a few minor notes on it. He added that The Suicide Squad was the most fun film he had made, which he attributed to prioritizing creativity over perfectionism, being in the best place mentally and emotionally, having a "stupendous" cast and crew and supportive studio, and feeling that he was at the height of his directing abilities.
In May 2020, John Murphy was set as the composer for the film. Tyler Bates, who scored all of Gunn's previous films, was originally attached to compose the score for The Suicide Squad but eventually left the project. During pre-production, Bates wrote music for Gunn to use on set as he had previously done for Gunn on the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
A behind-the-scenes featurette was released on August 22, 2020, during the virtual DC FanDome event. A panel for the film was held during Comic Con Experience's digital event CCXP Worlds on December 6, with James Gunn and members of the cast in attendance. A design for Elba's costume as Bloodsport was revealed. The first trailer for the film was released on March 26, 2021, with Alex McLevy of The A.V. Club praising its jokes and action. He felt that everything about the trailer perfectly captured the Suicide Squad's inherent "outlandish fun" from the comic books. Anthony D'Alessandro at Deadline Hollywood felt the trailer had all the trademarks of Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy films, noting the use of a "retro hit single" in Steely Dan's "Dirty Work", with The Verge's Jay Peters also getting "some serious Guardians of the Galaxy vibes" from the trailer. D'Alessandro and Peters both compared the trailer to the recently released DC film Zack Snyder's Justice League and noted how the trailer was much more colorful and humorous than that film. McLevy, Jennifer Bisset and Sean Keane of CNET, and CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell all highlighted King Shark and the R-rated scenes he appears in. The trailer was viewed 150 million times within a week of its release, breaking the record for red band trailers that was previously held by the trailer for Mortal Kombat (2021). A green band trailer was released on April Fool's Day and featured new footage, with Gunn not wanting to use a slightly edited version of the red band trailer as is commonly done. Jennifer Ouellette at Ars Technica noted that the new trailer had a darker, more ominous tone than the red band version, without the jokes and King Shark scenes and with added character beats.
The Suicide Squad is scheduled to be released theatrically by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on August 6, 2021, and digitally on the streaming service HBO Max for one month starting on that same date. Warner Bros. announced the joint theatrical and streaming release amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Main article: Peacemaker (TV series)
While completing work on The Suicide Squad during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gunn began writing a spin-off television series centered on the origins of Peacemaker. In September 2020, HBO Max ordered Peacemaker straight-to-series, with Gunn writing all eight episodes and directing several of them. Cena stars as Peacemaker, with Agee and Holland also reprising their respective film roles of Economos and Harcourt. Gunn and Safran executive produce the series, which is set to debut in January 2022.
In January 2021, Gunn said he had ideas for more The Suicide Squad spin-offs beyond Peacemaker.