The rivalry between Idris Elba’s Bloodsport and John Cena’s Peacemaker is both one of The Suicide Squad‘s most important narrative threads and best running gags, one that kicks off as soon as we’re introduced to Christopher Smith. Robert DuBois is incredulous at the fact Amanda Waller has added someone with an almost identical set of skills to Task Force X, and from then on out it’s the incredibly violent cinematic equivalent of a d*ck-measuring contest.
Things come to a head when the crew infiltrate a camp of freedom fighters to try and rescue Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag, under explicit instructions to kill anyone they see. What follows is Bloodsport and Peacemaker continuously trying to one-up each other as they dispatch of the rebels via increasingly inventive and violent means.
Once the opposition is out of the way, the team discovers they’ve made a horrible mistake. Flag is fine, drinking tea and having a laugh with the leader of the Corto Maltese resistance, and they’ve just slaughtered dozens of innocent people for no justifiable reason. Unsurprisingly, James Gunn admitted in a new interview that he experienced some pushback from Warner Bros. over the scene, and added Waller’s orders to make it slightly more palatable.
“The stuff with Bloodsport and Peacemaker, I had a lot of reservations about. I loved the sequence. It’s funny and it goes to the heart of what the movie is about, for me, in terms of Bloodsport’s journey of starting to learn that being a man and being a leader is not synonymous with being a toxic man, and that the path forward to true manhood is through vulnerability. That sequence is a big part of that, just a big d*ck swinging contest between two people.
Watching it the other night in the theater, that’s the one place I go, holy sh*t, we pushed it far, like, it’s at the edge of where we could go with that. There was some Warner Bros. execs who brought up, ‘Is this the one place that we go too far?’. I think that’s when I added, you know, Amanda Waller explicitly tells them to go into the camp and kill everyone. So they are following her orders, and she is in a way the antagonist in the film. So anyway, yeah, I had reservations about that.”
In the grand scheme of things it’s not particularly contentious or controversial, when The Suicide Squad never tries to paint the titular band of criminals, thieves and murderers as anything other than despicable people, with the exception of Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2. These are bad people who do bad things, and at the end of the day they were just doing what they were told to try and get ten years knocked off their respective prison sentences.