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Before Starro there was Superman. Appearing on the most recent episode of the Script Apart podcast, writer/director James Gunn revealed that "there was a time" when he considered making the Man of Steel the main baddie of The Suicide Squad.
"I thought that was a very interesting story," the filmmaker said. "But when I came up with Starro...he’s a character I loved from the comics. I think he’s a perfect comic book character because he’s absolutely ludicrous, but he’s also very scary in his own way … He used to scare the crap out of me when I was a child, putting those facehuggers on Superman and Batman and stuff. So, I thought he was one of the major DC villains that was probably never gonna be put into another movie. And if they did, they would do it like the ‘black cloud’ version of Starro — not a giant, walking starfish that’s a kaiju, that is bright-pink and cerulean blue. Just a ridiculously bright bad guy."
The decision to ditch Superman also came from the fact that the DCEU was still struggling to find a clear path forward — especially when it came to stars like Henry Cavill — when Gunn was in the process of formulating the story. "There was a question about: 'Who is Superman in the DCEU? Is this movie outside of the DCEU?' All that stuff," Gunn continued. "I didn’t really want to deal with that much. I just wanted to tell a good story."
The funny part is that Superman was among the potential projects offered to the director after Disney briefly fired him from Guardians of the Galaxy. Vol. 3. Superman did make it into The Suicide Squad by way of a passing reference meant to hype up the deadly nature of Idris Elba's Bloodsport. When we first meet the character at Belle Reve, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) informs her underlings — aka the audience — that Robert DuBois managed to put the Man of Tomorrow in the ICU with a single kryptonite bullet.
In the end, however, Starro was not only a perfect match for the over-the-top comic book tone Gunn wanted to achieve with this movie, but also a vehicle through which to provide commentary on America's nasty habit for interfering in the affairs of other nations. “Is it more critical or is it just realistic?" Gunn asked. We’ve been becoming unfairly involved in smaller cultures for a long time and this is just another example of that. I hope that there isn’t somewhere in which there’s a giant starfish being created by a foreign dictator who America is in cahoots with, but who knows?"
DC fans will still get to see Task Force X square off with members of the Justice League in Rocksteady Studios' Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League video game, which is slated for release sometime next year.
The Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max.