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The Suicide Squad’s James Gunn explains why ‘it was just too dark’ to kill off this character
Last October, writer/director James Gunn admitted that Warner Bros. and DC gave him free reign to kill off any character he liked in The Suicide Squad. "You really don’t know who’s going to live and who’s going to die," the filmmaker said at the time. Well, after months of wondering, the film is now out in theaters and streaming on HBO Max — and we finally know which members of Task Force X were fated to kick the bucket in Gunn's R-rated psuedo-sequel to 2016's Suicide Squad.
***WARNING! The following contains major plot spoilers for the entire film!***
Recently chatting with Variety, Gunn revealed that he went back and forth on certain character deaths during the climactic showdown with Starro the Conquerer. Of course, there was never any question about the opening scene in which half a dozen members of the titular team are slaughtered as they attempt to storm the beaches of Corto Maltese.
The subversive curtain raiser was always part of the master plan "from beginning when I pitched it to the Warner Bros. guys," Gunn told Variety. "They don’t know who Blackguard is, right? So I brought in all these pictures from the comics. I laid them down, and I told them the story in the same way. So they all thought that was the Suicide Squad as well. They thought that was gonna be the whole movie, and then they got to see them all killed. So they had the same experience."
As we soon learn, they were just a distraction for a second group comprised of Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), King Shark (Steve Agee/Sylvester Stallone), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), and Peacemaker (John Cena).
These are the heroes — though we use that term in the loosest sense possible — we stick with for the rest of the film's runtime and by the end, the motley crew of deplorable misfits have somehow charmed their way into our hearts. As such, there was just no way all of them would make it through the battle with Starro. If you've seen the movie, you know that Polka-Dot Man ends up crushed to death by the cosmic kaiju, but that wasn't always the plan.
Despite the brutal violence and a license to kill anyone and everyone, Gunn couldn't bring himself to kill Daniel Melchior's rat-taming Cleo Cazo. "There was a change," he explained. "The original ending that I pitched, one main character died and one main character did not die. And the main character who died was Ratcatcher 2. She was so sweet, I just felt like it was just too dark. Not that we don’t love Polka-Dot Man. We do. I just couldn’t [kill Ratcatcher 2]. So I relented."
When asked if he ever had a version of the script where Bloodsport or Harley died, Gunn said: "No, that never happened."
The Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max. The film slightly underwhelmed at the North American box office with $26.5 million. This is mostly likely due to the fact that audiences are opting to watch the movie at home in light of spiking COVID-19 cases across the country. It did a little better overseas with $35 million for a global debut of $72 million.