Will Smith won’t return for director James Gunn’s Suicide Squad sequel

Will Smith as Deadshot in Suicide Squad

Will Smith, who played the deadly assassin Deadshot in Suicide Squad, will not reprise his role for the sequel, which will be written and directed by Guardians of the Galaxy‘s James Gunn.

Warner Bros. hoped that Suicide Squad‘s two biggest stars, Smith and Margot Robbie, who played the Joker’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Harley Quinn, would both return for the Suicide Squad follow-up (let’s just call it Suicide Squad 2). Unfortunately, Smith and Warner Bros. couldn’t overcome scheduling issues and parted on amicable terms, Variety reports.

Robbie’s involvement remains up in the air. The actress is currently playing Harley in another DC Comics film, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), however, so she still has a strong connection to both the character and the studio. Other casting decisions have yet to be made.

Suicide Squad was written and directed by David Ayer, who also helmed Netflix’s Will Smith vehicle Bright, and arrived in theaters in 2016. It follows a group of imprisoned supervillains, including Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and other B-list DC Comics characters, who join a government black ops organization known as Task Force X in exchange for their freedom — provided they could survive a suicide mission.

Critics ravaged Suicide Squad — our own reviewer Rick Marshall called it “more sad than scary” — but the film made $746 million at the global box office regardless, so it’s clear why Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment committed to a sequel. The next Suicide Squad adventure is currently scheduled to debut on August 6, 2021.

Gunn joined the Suicide Squad sequel shortly after Disney and Marvel fired him from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 after right-wing activists uncovered a series of old, offensive jokes on Gunn’s Twitter account. Gunn, who got his start at Troma Entertainment, a studio known for its schlocky, off-color, and low-budget horror movies, had previously apologized for the tweets.

The Suicide Squad 2 sequel is being positioned as a soft reboot, and is said to feature a “mostly all-new cast of characters and actors.” Meanwhile, if you’re looking to get more of Smith in your life, his turn as the Genie in Disney’s live-action Aladdin remake is generating all kinds of buzz — and not necessarily the good kind.

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