When The Suicide Squad was announced as a reboot for the franchise, there was great speculation around who would or wouldn’t return from the David Ayers original. One of those folks was Will Smith who had played Deadshot in the first movie, a somewhat surprising casting even at the time considering his character didn’t become completely central to the story. He is not going to return for this next one and, in an interview with Screenrant, producer Peter Safran explained why.
When asked about why they made certain casting decisions for The Suicide Squad, of course, Will Smith’s status was among the first questions asked. Safran offers a pretty clear story about why the superstars didn’t return for Deadshot in this one. He says it came down simply to a scheduling conflict with Smith and when the movie was actually going to begin production. Here’s what he had to say on the topic:
We knew we had to start shooting in September because, frankly, we knew probably earlier than other people did that James was going to come back and do Guardians. So it was really important that we started shooting when we started shooting, and Will wasn’t available. That kind of made it easier all around: what are you going to do? He’s not available. So it’s also nice to, frankly, help separate it from the first movie, I think, in a greater fashion.
What’s interesting about this quote is that Safran expanded on the reasoning. I think most producers, in this situation, would have just offered up the scheduling piece as the central motivator for not having Will Smith return. But he continues on that it was almost a relief that the logistics of the situation didn’t work out. He elaborates that it just made it even easier to separate from the original movie and considering the star status of Will Smith, getting his character out of the next film was important for a separation between the two.
Not to say that Will Smith wouldn’t or couldn’t have been a welcome addition to The Suicide Squad, but there was clearly a meaningful move for the James Gunn feature to act almost outside the bounds of the original film. There are some holdovers for sure, but not a ton. This one is meant to reset things for the group and clearing out the complications around a Will Smith appearance, or starring role seemed to be the easier way to go.
Though Will Smith isn’t returning for The Suicide Squad, there are others who will reprise their roles from the first film. Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn, clearly one of the stars of the Ayers version who also parlayed the role into Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Plus Viola Davis is back as Amanda Waller and Joel Kinnaman is still Rick Flagg and Jai Courtney remains on as Captain Boomerang.
Replacing Will Smith in the cast will be a team of newcomers in what looks to be a much more humorous spin on the group. Idris Elba is in as Bloodsport, John Cena is Peacemaker, and Sylvester Stallone will be voicing King Shark. There are a ton of other cameos as well with the group growing. The Suicide Squad is set to hit theaters in the United States on August 5th and will spin off into future movies and shows as well. With first reactions to the movie almost universally agreeing that it is different from the first one, in an insane way fitting of the group.