From the moment it was announced that writer/director James Gunn would be tackling The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros.’ DC Universe, the biggest question hanging over the R-rated team-up flick was how it would connect to David Ayers‘ Suicide Squad from 2016. Not only is Gunn’s film one “The” away from having the same title, but it’s also bringing back key cast members like Margot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney‘s Captain Boomerang, Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg, and Viola Davis‘ Amanda Waller. So when Collider visited The Suicide Squad‘s Atlanta set back in 2018 with a group of other journalists, the topic naturally came up when we spoke to producer Peter Safran and production designer Beth Mickle. We’d seen the impressively massive Jotunheim construction and learned the names of the new crew members, but how does all of that build off of what happened in Suicide Squad?
“We don’t address it,” Safran told the roundtable, simple as it. The producer explained that while the returning characters will recognize each other, Gunn’s script makes no mention of what happened in Suicide Squad, the events of the Harley Quinn-focused Birds of Prey (“Not really,” says Safran), or any of Quinn’s past relationship with The Joker (“No,” says Safran).
“We just don’t address it in any tangible form. Yes, they’re the characters [and] the actors that played them in the first movie. But we really wanted to make sure that this stands on its own two feet. So, again, it’s why… it’s not a sequel, but there are some characters that were in the first movie, right? So it’s not really a full reboot either. So we just call it James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.”
According to the producer, The Suicide Squad not having to rely on the stories before it—or the implications of building a larger, shared DC Universe—was the sticking point of getting James Gunn onboard, which happened during the brief period when the filmmaker had been removed from Guardians of the Galaxy, vol 3. Here’s what Safran said:
“[The studio’s decision to return to the property] was driven in large part by James Gunn’s sudden availability that started July of last year. I always felt like it’s an incredible property and when I talked to James about it, his initial reaction was, ‘I’m not sure. Let me think about it.’ He thought about it a little bit and, mind you, it was just like, ‘Listen, who’s better to bring together a disparate group of outsiders on a mission? James Gunn.’ That was my pitch to him and his ultimate reaction was, ‘Ask Warner Bros. if I have to be bound by anything that has occurred before, any characters, or anything off-base, or can I just start from scratch?’ And the reaction was, ‘We want Suicide Squad from the mind of James Gunn.’ That’s what it is. So not a sequel. It’s not a reboot. It’s just James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.”
“I don’t think most people think Star Lord’s head is going to explode in the middle of the movie.”
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