It’s evident that Dave Bautista and James Gunn are very close friends, with the duo regularly lavishing praise on each other, while the former professional wrestler repeatedly blasted Disney after they fired the filmmaker from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, even intimating that he was ready to walk away from his role as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Drax the Destroyer in protest.
Obviously, Gunn was soon brought back into the fold and everything is going swimmingly between all parties, with Vol. 3 set to start shooting before the end of the year to meet a summer 2023 release date. During the director’s brief sabbatical from the MCU, he boarded The Suicide Squad, and Bautista confirmed that he was once in talks to join the ensemble of the R-rated comic book adaptation.
The actor was rumored for Peacemaker, who ironically wound up being played by his former in-ring rival John Cena, with Bautista opting to sign on for Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead instead. In a new interview, the 52 year-old revealed why he chose the zombie actioner over the superhero romp, and it makes complete sense from both a personal and professional standpoint.
“James Gunn wrote a role for me in The Suicide Squad, which I was all fired up about, not only because he was making a huge comeback. He’s come back with The Suicide Squad and was rehired by Marvel, and has really been vindicated as far as that whole thing went. I was all up for it, and then I got Army of the Dead, which was not only a lead role for me, but also I really wanted to work with Zack Snyder. I’ve been wanting to work with him for years.
I had The Suicide Squad where I got to work with my boy again, even though it’s a smaller role, and then I had Army of the Dead on which I get to work with Zack, I get to build a relationship with Netflix, I get a lead role in a great film and I get paid a lot more money. I had to call James, and I told him, ‘It breaks my heart, because as a friend, I want to be there with you, but professionally, this is the smart decision for me’. He said, ‘I completely get it. I’m proud of you that you’re even in this position. I’m proud that I had something to do with you being in this position where you have to make these hard decisions’.”
Peacemaker might be getting his own HBO Max spinoff in the wake of The Suicide Squad, but Bautista will have no doubt received a bigger paycheck for headlining $100 million Netflix blockbuster Army of the Dead, while he also got to fulfill a dream he’d had for years by getting to work with the architect of the SnyderVerse. He’ll be reunited with Gunn anyway when production on Vol. 3 gets underway later this year, so it’s all worked out pretty well for him in the long run.