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While it contains a few familiar faces from the 2016 movie that preceded it, The Suicide Squad will bear little to no resemblance to David Ayer's cinematic take on Task Force X. In fact, writer-director James Gunn is literally rewriting the canonical script, describing his DC film as "its own thing" during a chat with Empire for the magazine's December issue.
"It does not contradict the first movie. I don't think. It might in some small ways...I dont know," Gunn said. "Listen, David Ayer's gotten trouble for the movie. I know it didn't come out how David wanted it to come out. But he did one really, really great thing, and that is he picked fantastic actors to work with, and he dealt with these actors in building their characters in a really deep and fearless way. It's something David definitely deserves to be lauded for, and it definitely added to this movie."
Returning cast members from the original film include: Margot Robbie ("Harley Quinn"), Viola Davis ("Amanda Waller"), Joel Kinnaman ("Rick Flagg"), and Jai Courtney ("Captain Boomerang"). Suicide Squad wasn't loved by either critics or fans, but it was still a box office success that eventually took home an Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. A sequel was never in doubt, but Ayer would not be tapped to return, despite the fact that he wrote a sequel treatment.
"Everybody decided that's not really what anybody wanted to do next," producer Charles Roven told Empire, referring to Ayer's treatment. And so, the studio and producers began to search for a new director. Jaume Collet-Serra (Jungle Cruise), Daniel Espinosa (Morbius), Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies), and even Mel Gibson (The Expendables 3) were all considered before Gavin O'Connor (The Accountant) was hired as writer and director.
He penned a script that included Black Adam (a role that will be played by Dwayne Johnson), but his take "was ultimately deemed as being too structurally similar" to Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey, writes Empire.
"We knew it wasn't gonna work, and then James came up with an idea that was very, very different from whatever attempts we had made in the past. You know, James is his own force of nature, creatively," Roven explained. "If it was somebody different, you might say, 'What the hell are we doing?' But when it's James telling you, you go with it. 'Cause we figured one thing's for sure: it ain't going to be the same old thing!"
Gunn was able to come aboard after he was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in the summer of 2018. He would eventually be rehired, but his brief status as a free agent allowed him to delve into the DCEU. Thanks to Empire, we now know what The Suicide Squad's plot is about. Rather than trying to take down a supernatural threat way above their pay-grade, the team will be sent on an actual black ops mission to the fictional Latin American island called Corto Maltese.
"There, they have to destroy a Nazi-era prison and laboratory named Jotunheim," producer Peter Safran revealed. "[It's a place] where political prisoners were held and experimentations took place."
Jotunheim, which gets its name from the realm of giants in Norse mythology, was a massive, practical set that took up the space of four parking lots at Pinewood Atlanta. Its basement (where "some horrid secrets are revealed," Gunn said) was the same size as Kyln space prison seen in the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Until this project, the Kyln was the largest practical set Gunn had ever worked on.
The movie co-stars Idris Elba ("Bloodsport"), John Cena ("Peacemaker"), Nathan Fillion ("T.D.K."), Taika Waititi (his role is TBD), Pete Davidson ("Blackguard"), Peter Capaldi ("The Thinker"), David Dastmalchian ("Polka-Dot Man"), Alice Braga ("Sol Soria"), Storm Reid ("Tyla DuBois"), Sean Gunn ("Weasel"), Steve Agee ("King Shark"), Michael Rooker ("Savant"), Daniela Melchior ("Ratcatcher 2"), and Flula Borg ("Javelin").
The Suicide Squad is slated to hit theaters on Aug. 6, 2021.