Warner Bros. have gained a level of infamy for how heavily they’ve ended up interfering in a number of DCEU projects, whether it be taking Suicide Squad out of David Ayer’s hands, replacing Cathy Yan with Chad Stahelski for Birds of Prey reshoots or the constant battles between the boardroom and Zack Snyder.
It was a surprise, then, when it was revealed James Gunn had been offered complete carte blanche to pick any property he wanted from the DC Films catalogue and turn it into a movie, which just goes to show how much WB wanted to tie him down in the aftermath of his firing from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Gunn opted for The Suicide Squad, which is entirely in keeping with his R-rated background and penchant for dysfunctional family dynamics, but in a new interview the filmmaker admitted that he considered making the film as a completely unconnected and standalone effort, similar to Todd Phillips’ Joker.
“Well, listen, it isn’t very different with the Guardians movies. I mean, I’ve made two Guardians movies that were completely outside of the rest of the stories at the time. I never really had to adhere to anything except where I created the Infinity Stones, so that was it. It isn’t that different, but the truth is that David Ayer did a remarkable job, both working with and casting a few of these actors. I love the character of Harley Quinn. I do not think that there is an actor alive that can do a better job than Margot Robbie.
Did I consider it? Yeah, I definitely considered just doing a Joker with it, but I liked the idea of using some of these fantastic talents that were in the first movie and moving ahead with them. I love Joel. I love Viola. I mean, who’s better than that? And Jai. I love all of those actors, so I wanted to work with them.”
The end result falls somewhere in the middle, with producer Peter Safran confirming that Ayer’s first installment isn’t acknowledged, referenced or mentioned even once, essentially consigning it to the canonical history books despite the presence of returning stars Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis.
It’s probably the smartest move in retrospect, one that grounds The Suicide Squad in an established mythology without being beholden to what came before, leaving it free to carve a new path. These returnees are the same people audiences met before, but if you never got around to seeing Ayer’s disappointing effort, then you’re not going to be left scratching your head at who these antiheroes are and why you should care about them.