Back in 2016, David Ayer presented to the world his vision of the DC supervillain story of The Suicide Squad; unfortunately, that film didn’t go down to well with critics or audiences. Fast forward to 2021, having brought the Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker, James Gunn on board for a reboot, this ragtag of villains gets an ultra-violent and pretty gruesome make-over.
In Gunn’s vision, which sees Margot Robbie returning as Harley Gunn, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang and the ever-brilliant Viola Davis as agent Amanda Waller, we are introduced to a whole new array of villains with big hearts and let’s just say at least one is “packing”. The list of names goes on and on but with Idris Elba as Bloodsport, John Cena as Peacemaker and Sylvester Stallone as King Shark, this new injection of blood and humour is all set to be riotously bonkers.
During a recent press conference for the film, Gunn along with producer Peter Safran and the exceptionally large cast gave us an insight on making the film, and just from their shenanigans during the press conference, we are highly surprised this film ever managed to get finished.
Not many filmmakers have the luxury of freedom when making these big-budget comic-book adaptations, but thankfully Gunn and his ‘brilliantly twisted’ mind had both the freedom and support for his wacky ideas for the movie.
Gunn said “I could not believe I went in with an idea, that stayed stable from the first time I pitched it to the guys at Warner’s with Peter [Safran] and Chuck [Charles Roven] to the very end. Just the fact that I knew I was being entrusted with this enormous amount of freedom on such a big-budget movie, I really did feel a huge responsibility to people to do it the best I could, but also because I was being given so much freedom, I felt the responsibility to take risks. Making movies at this level, it does seem like big movies are the ones people are going to see in theatres, and if they don’t continue to take risks, and change and try new things then people are not wanting to come to the theatres. If it’s the same boring structure every time, people are going to get bored. I felt grateful, I felt a sense of magic, I felt a sense of purpose and a sense of almost destiny the whole time we were making the movie.”
Producer Peter Safran added “The first time James came in and pitched the idea that one of the characters was going to be a 200ft pink starfish, once you get over that there is nothing else he’s gonna do that’s gonna surprise you. Once you’ve brought in on the starfish, everything else is fair game. There was no real concern.”
As most of us are aware, Gunn has a history of taking obscure comic book characters and turning them into household names. Gunn revealed exactly how he went about choosing the newest characters to join this world including admitting he wrote the role of Bloodsport, especially for Idris Elba,
“I selected them all in very different ways, I knew there were some past stories I needed to tell and there were some characters like Harley who I wanted to put in the movie and Boomer and these characters that I liked a lot and a lot of good actors that played them. Then there were other characters like Polka-Dot man and I really wanted to use a character who was thought of as a lame supervillain. I literally put into Google who is the dumbest super villain of all time, and Polka-Dot man always came up near the top. Being able to take a character like and then give him heart was fun for me, I love Rats, so Ratcatcher was an easy one. I wrote Bloodsport for Idris, I wanted to work with Idris; I wanted Idris to star in this movie. So it wasn’t a matter so much of who the character was, it was let’s find a character who is obscure who can build his own cinematic creations for Idris. So every character was different.”
David Dastmalchian who plays the role of Polka-Dot man and will soon be seen in Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ in October added; “He really first said he wanted me to play Superman then we had to go in a different direction [laughs] No, the truth of the matter is I was very embarrassed because when James told me he wanted me to be in his film, first I freaked out, I couldn’t believe I was going to be in a film that James was going to make let alone The Suicide Squad, then he said I was Polka-Dot man and I was so embarrassed as James knows how much I love comic books and I spent my life collecting albums and I had no freaking clue who Polka-Dot man was. “
Having played Harley Quinn a number of times already, Margot Robbie had a new reason to look forward to playing the fearless and eccentric villainess and that comes in the form of not just one but a few potential love interests.
Robbie commented; “I loved getting to play Harley who was in the mindset of Single and ready to mingle. I hadn’t played that version of Harley before, she has always been very committed to Mr. J or fresh out of the break-up with Mr. J. James put in a lot of very funny potential love interests throughout the film, It didn’t always end well obviously, but that was fun but also to play a Harley who was kind of in mission mode. Any time she is in a new group there is always something fun and new to do because she reacts differently based on who the teammates are.”
Effectively, both Elba’s Bloodsport and Cena’s Peacemaker do not have any powers but mostly bring the brawn and with that comes a level of one-upmanship in the duo’s relationship. Whilst this brings a whole level of fun to the characters for both Elba and Cena there is one particular scene that a certain part of Cena’s anatomy steals the show.
Elba said; “When you read the script, you see the natural rivalry between John [Cena] and I and James and who team really just gravitated to this dick swinging competition that was just a lot of fun. For us, it was really great fun and James would really egg us on to make Peacemaker and Bloodsport really pop on screen. I loved every minute of it.”
Cena went on to add; “I’d say the same, I think if you look at the personalities you have here, James has cast a very wide net and on top of that given everyone’s superhero personalities that are distinctly definable except Bloodsport and Peacemaker, they are on the same skill set and I think that really starts to fuel the one-upmanship, they really want to battle for that Alpha position, whereas the other heroes don’t need to compete as much because they have definable characteristics. It really does make for some good comedic moments.”
Elba said, “You don’t want to talk about John’s tighty whitey scene…”
Pete Davidson said “bro, bro your dick is huge… You have a huge piece dude!”
Gunn commented; “John asked me to use a large penis filter on the camera at all times.”
Davidson added “I saw a screening with 20 people and the first thing everybody said after the movie besides it was great, was like Yo, Cena’s dick is crazy. All my uncle’s seriously that love wrestling was like, Yo I didn’t know Cena was packing like that.”
Cena went on to thank Gunn, “James, thank you for the filter, I appreciate that. My demands were to keep the costume and I wanted him to use a filter on my dick and he did both.”
With so many more new characters than the 2016 version, there was a chance that some returning characters could fade into the background but Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag still manages to stand out, Kinnaman thanked Gunn’s writing on the character where he could finally get to flex his comedic side.
“We had a good script, I was just so happy to get to do this new version of Flag that James wrote. I got to spread some comedic wings. It was great to get to come in and though it was the second time doing it I felt like I was doing it for the first time. Me and James had a couple of conversations early on we decided I wasn’t going to be bound by what we did in the first film and just let this be a new experience. I had so much fun with it, it was a completely new experience and felt like a new character.” Kinnaman commented.
Even though Sylvester Stallone isn’t physically in the film playing the animated King Shark, his presence in his commanding voice and greatest one-liners makes him fully part of the action. However, it was his love of Seaford that convinced him to take on the role!
“I’m a big fan of seafood so I was offered this and thought oh well, how do I pass it. I would have prefered to play a grouper but I’ll take what I can get,” commented Stallone, “I like that he is on a high protein diet, I think he’s more intelligible than I am. He has less of a slur. We bonded instantly.”
Gunn added “I called up Sly and said Sly I wrote this role for you, he says what is it? I said it’s a really stupid shark, he goes OK.”
Stallone “I owe you one James, the next Rambo you are the first victim.”
Michael Rooker: “I wanna be in the movie, Hey Sly I wanna be on the movie OK and I want to be the guy who kills Gunn. He’s killed me 3 or 4 times already so I’m gonna back on his ass, OK.”
Stallone: “Seriously, I can’t function without you, so you’re in.”
Gunn commented; “A lot of people don’t know, we made that beach, that is on the backlot of Pinewood, It’s one of the biggest sets ever made and it is an entire beachfront with an ocean that has working waves created by Dan Sudick our special effects guy, then the beach leads into a forest which we also shoot in as a forest. We had this humongous beach that we created so we had full control over. When you were there you felt like you were on the beach so in between set-ups we were out there hanging out, not quite drinking Margheritas but it was great.”
The film, which features assemble cons including Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and everyone’s favourite psycho, Harley Quinn, sees them dropped them (literally) on the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese, through blood, sweat and a little romance, it’s a race for last man standing to battle the giant enemy that faces the world.
The film’s cast includes Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang all reprise their roles from David Ayers 2016 offering. Additional cast members include Idris Elba is playing Bloodsport, Alice Braga is playing Sul Soria, Pete Davidson is playing Blackguard, Michael Rooker is playing Savant, John Cena is playing Peacemaker, David Dastmalchian is playing Polka-Dot Man, Sean Gunn is playing Weasel and Peter Capaldi is playing the Thinker.
The Suicide Squad hits UK cinemas July 30th.