Director James Gunn revealed that he had just one request from the studio to contend with in order to make the upcoming The Suicide Squad movie.
The director has said that the next version of The Suicide Squad is largely his vision for the movie put to the screen without much studio intervention. However, in a recent interview, he revealed that Warner Bros. had just one request before giving him the helm of its DC Extended Universe anti-hero romp. That request was to include Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.
Speaking to The New York Times, Gunn said that when he got the job to tackle the next Suicide Squad, he watched the 2016 film done by David Ayer for the first time and promptly asked the studio what he needed to keep before embarking on his own journey with the franchise. He explained that the studio was surprisingly lenient with him, merely requesting that Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn be part of the team again. However, even that was not a deal-breaking demand.
It also wasn’t a big ask. If there was one redeeming quality to the 2016 version of the Suicide Squad, it was definitely Robbie’s version of the Clown Prince of Crime’s ex-girlfriend. That’s why she was spun off into her own standalone film Birds of Prey, in 2020. So, essentially Warner Bros. “request” amounted to keeping the most popular character in the fold. However, that does mean that Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is indeed a sequel to Ayer’s original. Collider notes that it does not reference the first film in any meaningful way. But Gunn d also decide to keep Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang, Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag, and Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller.
Gunn revealed that he was happy to get almost no creative notes from the studio on his version of the Suicide Squad, especially after Ayer’s 2016 version of the Suicide Squad was marred by re-writes and a ton of studio intervention. That film was incredibly poorly received, and when Gunn was brought in to do a sequel (which is really more of a soft reboot) many were concerned that the comic-savvy director’s work was going to be noted to death like Ayer’s film.
Not only is Gunn being allowed to make his pure vision of The Suicide Squad a blessing for fans, but the project also came at a particularly desperate time for the director. He was ousted from the franchise that put his name on the map, Guardians of the Galaxy after a 2018 controversy saw past problematic tweets resurface. Marvel gave him the boot from helming the third movie and DC and Warner Bros. quickly scooped him up.
Speaking to Esquire, he explained that he “needed” this new The Suicide Squad movie to pull him out of the funk he was in. While Gunn apologized for the past tweets, he routinely takes responsibility for his actions and even told the outlet that he considers what happened to him a positive.
“I was not the healthiest person at that time. I was getting distracted by things that didn’t matter as much to me. With this, I really got back to just this pure creative spirit, which is why I made movies in the first place. And I think I had forgotten that a little bit,” he explained of The Suicide Squad.
Fortunately, everything worked out for him as Marvel reconsidered its decision given Gunn’s apology. He was reinstated as the helmer of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and was even given the time to finish The Suicide Squad. He recently told Entertainment Weekly that, once again, his original idea for the movie remains largely intact with very little intervention from the studio.
“For Guardians 3, the script has basically been written for a long time. I’ve been playing with it in little ways over the years, but it’s basically stayed the same since three years ago. It’s pretty heavy actually. It’s a heavier story, so it’s an emotional process to go through,” he explained.