The Suicide Squad succeeds in one way where 2016’s Suicide Squad failed in that it is a true ensemble movie. In the first film, the other squad members drew the short straw while Will Smith’s Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn were very much the lead characters. In its standalone sequel, however, the core Task Force X team all get a fair-sized chunk of screentime.
Director James Gunn revealed the surprising reason behind this in a recent podcast appearance. The filmmaker spoke to hosts Al Horner and Kamil Dymek on the “Script Apart” podcast and explained that Robbie made clear to him that she didn’t think Harley should be at the center of this movie, which helped him better structure the story based around all the characters.
“Margot really didn’t, I don’t think she wanted to be — no, I know she didn’t want the film to be centered around her …” Gunn said. “She’s more than a supporting character because it really is an ensemble film and she’s definitely a protagonist for part of the film, just with her.”
Harley’s actually MIA for a fair chunk of the first half of the film before she then essentially gets her own mini-movie. As Gunn alludes to in his comments, the story temporarily switches its focus to Harls as she’s courted by Corto Maltese president Silvio Luna (Juan Diego Botto), before she kills the corrupt dictator and rejoins with the others.
Gunn went on to explain in his podcast appearance that he sees TSS as arguably having three protagonists: Robbie’s clown princess, Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, and Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher. “If there are three protagonists it’s probably [Harley] Idris’s Bloodsport and Ratcatcher 2,” he stated. “But, if there’s one protagonist, it’s Bloodsport.”
And that’s not even mentioning the many scene-stealing supporting characters, like John Cena’s Peacemaker, Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag, David Dastmalchian’s Polka-Dot Man and, of course, Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark. Gunn’s DCEU debut is a great example of the right way to do a team movie, and it seems Robbie deserves a chunk of the praise for that.