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The Suicide Squad: Everything we know about James Gunn’s sequel

Despite scathing reviews, DC’s 2016 film Suicide Squad was a financial success, raking in more than $745 million worldwide. It should be no surprise that Warner Bros. Pictures announced plans for The Suicide Squad, a sequel that will follow a new team of villains forced to complete a dangerous mission.

Directed by James Gunn, The Suicide Squad will be a soft reboot of the film franchise set within WB’s interconnected universe of DC Comics characters, but it’s not a direct sequel to the 2016 film. The film already has assembled an impressive cast that includes several returning characters — including Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn — and a long list of newcomers to the DC Extended Universe, including John Cena, Taika Waititi, Idris Elba, Nathan Fillion, Peter Capaldi, and Pete Davidson.

With The Suicide Squad scheduled to hit theaters on Aug. 6, 2021, here’s everything we know about the movie so far.

New clips

Ahead of the day-and-date release on HBO Max on August 6, Warner Bros. has released two new clips from the upcoming film.

THE SUICIDE SQUAD Clip "This Is Not a Dog" | 2021 | HD James Gunn DC
THE SUICIDE SQUAD Clip "Starro Gets Out HD | 2021 | James Gunn DC

Starro, the Conquerer

James Gunn gave some insight into what to expect from The Suicide Squad while speaking to Den of Geek about his decision to include Starro, the Conquerer (and the film’s R rating). “Starro is hilarious because he’s ridiculous. He’s a giant, cerulean blue starfish, but he’s also fucking terrifying,” Gunn said. “When I was a kid I thought that was the scariest thing of all time … and I think that exemplifies what this movie is: It is ridiculous and it’s also terrifying, and serious. So he works really well as the villain of the movie — as one of the villains, actually.”

Ridiculous, terrifying, R-rated.

New trailer

James Gunn saved April Fool’s Day not with a joke, but with a true blue new trailer for The Suicide Squad. There’s tons of new footage in here, including Polka Dot Man throwing his polka dots, so you won’t want to miss it.

THE SUICIDE SQUAD - Rebellion Trailer

First TV spots

We’ve got our first footage of the upcoming reboot, and it looks like Warner Bros. has really let James Gunn off the leash. Check it out:

#TheSuicideSquad TV spot number one. Capaldi talks!

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) March 29, 2021

TV Spot #2. #TheSuicideSquad

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) March 30, 2021

Don’t worry about the first

The Suicide Squad has broadly been considered a soft reboot rather than a direct sequel to the 2016 film, but that’s still left some fans wondering whether they’d need to see the first film to understand the new one. Enter director James Gunn:

No, you will be just fine.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) January 27, 2021

Day-and-date release

In December 2020, Variety revealed that Warner Bros. will release its entire 2021 slate day-and-date on HBO Max. That includes The Suicide Squad on Aug. 6. And yes, it will be rated R.

Yes it’s rated R.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) December 31, 2020

New poster

James Gunn has taken to adding wacky The Suicide Squad posters to Twitter:

I'll just drop this here. Did I mention that a trailer is coming tomorrow? #TheSuicideSquad

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) March 25, 2021

#DCFanDome is over, but #TheSuicideSquad lives on… at least until a good amount of them get massacred in August 2021. I can't tell you guys how moved & grateful I am by all your support & compliments yesterday. Thank you!💥🙏

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) August 23, 2020

Official logo

James Gunn took to Twitter to share official title treatments from the upcoming film. Not only that, but they’ve got treatments in four languages! Check them out:

#TheSuicideSquad team just got me these amazing new official title treatments for my birthday. And the cast and I have so much more to show you guys on Aug 22 at See you there! 💥 #DC #DCFanDome @SuicideSquadWB

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) August 5, 2020

A tonal shift

In an interview with Variety, Jai Courtney explained that James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad will be tonally different from David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. “I think it’s kind of got a different flavor,” Courtney said. “There’s a whole bunch of new characters. James Gunn has an approach to things that is uniquely his; he pulls a lot of that into the Suicide Squad world. And I think it fits really well, and audiences are going to have a lot of fun with it.”

Speaking with Screen Rant in September, Courtney delved further into the shifting team dynamic and the challenges of a soft reboot. “I don’t feel like anyone felt the need to abandon what we had kind of already established, but he’s definitely the same guy, he’s not a dramatically different Boomerang,” he said. “It’s just that the backdrop is a little different and there’s a whole bunch more people, so it’s going to have its own feeling and flavor about it, but people are going to have just as much fun with it and we had a great time making it.”

Still on track

Despite a rash of big-budget movies being delayed or moved, including several major releases from DC rival Marvel, James Gunn assured fans via Twitter that The Suicide Squad is still “on or ahead of schedule.”

On The Suicide Squad? We are still on schedule as of now.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) April 9, 2020

Right now there’s no reason for #TheSuicideSquad release date to move. We are on or ahead of schedule. We were extremely fortunate to wrap shooting & set up editing from our homes (due to a post production team & studio with foresight) before quarantine.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) April 12, 2020

I wish we were but, as you might imagine, although editing #TheSuicideSquad has been pretty smooth in the time of quarantine (I’m working on the cut right now), there are a lot of other factors slowed – some of those related to releasing images, trailers, etc.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) April 12, 2020

A personal director’s note

After principal filming wrapped in Atlanta in March, director James Gunn posted a picture of some of The Suicide Squad’s cast and crew, with an especially personal note. Most directors post something on social media after filming concludes but Gunn’s hits an especially poignant note.

Gunn reveals that this film’s production was marred by personal tragedy. His father died two weeks before shooting started, and his dog died two weeks before it ended. Naturally, that made work tough, but Gunn said that despite the circumstances, it was “the most fulfilling time I’ve ever had making a movie.”

Slated for summer 2021, The Suicide Squad still has a ways to go before release but Gunn’s deeply personal, existentially optimistic note may inspire some confidence for the quick reboot.

Harley Quinn’s new look

Fresh off the premiere of her team-up film Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, Margot Robbie was spotted on the set of The Suicide Squad with director James Gunn. A photo snapped of Robbie reveals the new look she’ll be sporting as Harley Quinn in the film.

♦️ New "The Suicide Squad" image shows Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.

— Harley Quinn Headquarters ♦️💋 (@QuinnofDiamonds) February 12, 2020

The full cast

After a year of rumors and speculation regarding the cast of The Suicide Squad, director James Gunn revealed the official cast list for the film in September 2019. The list was made public on Twitter, with Gunn offering fans a cryptic warning: “Don’t get too attached.”

Don’t get too attached. #TheSuicideSquad

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) September 13, 2019

Returning from the 2016 movie along with Robbie will be actress Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, and Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg. They’ll be joined by John Cena, Taika Waititi, Pete Davidson, and Idris Elba in unidentified roles, as well as Firefly actor Nathan Fillion and former Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi.

Among the new characters confirmed for the film are Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher and David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man. Additional cast members playing unidentified roles include Flula Borg, Sean Gunn, Jennifer Holland, Mayling Ng, Storm Reid, Alice Braga, Michael Rooker, Joaquín Cosío, Juan Diego Botto, Tinashe Kajese, and Julio Ruiz.

Gunn posted a photo of himself with several of the film’s cast members later that month.

The photo features (left to right) Flula Borg, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Gunn, Jennifer Holland, Nathan Fillion, Sean Gunn, and Mayling Ng.

Two cast members who won’t be returning are Will Smith and Jared Leto, who played Deadshot and Joker, respectively, in the first film. The two actors aren’t expected to reprise their roles for The Suicide Squad.

The director change-up

As James Gunn was temporarily dropped from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 by Marvel Studios due to a controversy regarding insensitive jokes he posted on Twitter years earlier, WB hired the celebrated filmmaker to helm and write The Suicide Squad. He was first hired to rewrite the script, but later signed on in October 2018 as director.

Initially, Warner Bros. tapped Gavin O’Connor to direct the Suicide Squad sequel. O’Connor directed the action film The Accountant and wrote a script for the movie, but allegedly left the project after Birds of Preywhich reportedly has a very similar plot, got the green light instead.

Before O’Connor landed the job, other directors rumored to be on WB’s shortlist included Mel Gibson — apparently back in demand after the success of Hacksaw Ridge. Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed the shark attack movie The Shallows, seemed to be the top choice for the film at first, but he took another gig, directing Disney’s Jungle Cruise.

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