James Gunn has been pretty open and honest in how he ended up writing and directing The Suicide Squad, and it all stemmed from Disney tasking Kevin Feige as the man to tell the Guardians of the Galaxy director he’d been booted from Vol. 3 after a string of unsavory tweets resurfaced and went viral.
Just days later, Warner Bros. stepped in and offered Gunn the opportunity to direct any of their comic book properties that he wanted, and he ultimately plumped for the band of misfits, murderers and antiheroes, even when the studio were trying to nudge him in the direction of Superman. If the early reactions to The Suicide Squad are anything to go by, he definitely made the smartest call.
Gunn has also been touting the levels of creative freedom and autonomy he was offered on the project, a far cry from the constant battles his predecessor David Ayer had to endure, and the majority of the DCEU’s contracted behind the camera talent, for that matter. However, in a new interview the 54 year-old admitted that he was given one request by the boardroom, and luckily he was happy to oblige.
“I wanted to create what I thought of as the Suicide Squad. For me to react to David’s movie would make it the shadow of David’s movie. I wanted it to be its own thing completely. When Warner Bros. said they wanted me to do this, I watched the first movie for the first time, and I called them back and said, ‘What do I have to keep from this movie?’. And they said, ‘Nothing’. They said, ‘Listen, we would love it if Margot’s in the movie but she doesn’t have to be. You could come up with all new characters or you could keep all the same characters’.”
Despite cooming off the back of box office bomb Birds of Prey, having Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn take top billing among the ensemble make sense from a critical and commercial perspective. She’s been a constant highlight in every DCEU movie she’s appeared in, and the Joker’s former flame is also a recognizable and marketable asset capable of convincing audiences that The Suicide Squad is going to be different enough from the original without wiping the slate entirely clean, so in the end it was a bit of a no-brainer for both parties to get her involved.