When Collider visited the Atlanta set of The Suicide Squad, one thing the trailers haven’t quite driven home yet became very clear: James Gunn is making a war movie. In order to fully live up to the film’s Platoon-esque inspirations, Gunn and production designer Beth Mickle strived to construct and use as many practical sets as possible, an intentional departure from the director’s largely green-screened work on Guardians of the Galaxy. While we can’t quite speak to the finished product just yet, I can tell you I definitely did step right off of the Pinewood Studios backlot and into the surrounding jungles of Corto Maltese, which led to the jaw-droppingly large set built to represent Jotunheim (more on that right here). The three-ish football fields’ worth of debris and twisted metal suggested that whatever had just been filmed there, it involved blowing the place to absolute shit, as did the fully overturned Jeep sitting in the corner.
That practical level of destruction was particularly integral to The Suicide Squad‘s chaotic opening scene, Mickle and producer Peter Safran told a roundtable of journalists. Here’s what Safran said:
“The opener of our movie, it’s basically Saving Private Ryan. It’s our team landing on a beach in a big battle and there’s got to be water. There’s got to be sand, a pond. It’s supposed to take place on Corto Maltese. So we built a beach on the backlot here that’s 260 feet across. A giant tank, wave machines, thousands of trees. This is what Beth and her team built. And we shot there for the first 10 days of shooting where it was Saving Private Ryan at night, on this beach, explosions and helicopters and the whole thing. You could have done it in a pure blue screen environment, frankly, but it just feels so real for the actors to be running through the sand, hiding behind big boulders, swimming in from the tank onto the beach, all that stuff. You feel it when you see it. It looks absolutely extraordinary.”
Mickle emphasized that The Suicide Squad‘s practical sets were a result of a close collaboration with Gunn, who wanted to experiment in physical ways CGI won’t allow.
“It’s a very naturalistic film and…it’s a war film, but it feels like Platoon, and Saving Private Ryan, and Black Hawk Down, where you’re literally in the boat with them arriving on the beach…with bullets whizzing past you and running through the sand with bullets hitting the sand and jungle leaves hitting your face as they race through. That’s where the limitations of CGI worlds really do come into play because you just don’t get that same sort of interaction with sand flying back and hitting people, and them coming up from the water. And I really think you can tell when it’s not physically there.”
Be on the lookout for more dispatches from The Suicide Squad set, including new details on Jotunheim, the film’s hard-R rating, Polka-Dot Man, and more. The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max on August 6th.
“Literally voted like one of least popular characters in all of the DC canon.”
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