Marvel’s loss is apparently about to become DC’s gain.
As first reported by The Wrap’s Umberto Gonzalez and Beatrice Verhoeven, James Gunn is in discussions with Warner Brothers to write a new script for Suicide Squad 2. He may also be in line to direct the project.
Gunn is only available to take over the Suicide Squad sequel because he was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 by Disney after a series of old tweets making tasteless jokes about pedophilia and rape were brought to attention by right-wing activists. Though Marvel pushed to have Gunn reinstated and many supporters criticized Disney for the swift decision, the studio didn’t waver. With no director, the production for GotG 3 was put on hold, though Gunn’s script for the film will still likely be used.
Besides being the creative force behind the GotG franchise, another reason Marvel advocated for bringing Gunn back was because other studios were ready to line up for his services once he was cut loose. It wasn’t difficult to draw the conclusion that Warner Brothers and DC would be more than happy to hire one of Marvel’s top directors if he became available. And now, that’s apparently exactly what’s happening.
Suicide Squad is a perfect fit for Gunn. The group of supervillains turned government operatives by threat of death is a roguish collection of characters similar to what Gunn had with the Guardians. Maybe Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and Groot weren’t villains, per se, but they were thieves. Gamora and Drax were definitely murderous!
TheWrap’s report says that Gunn is bringing “a completely new take” to the project, so it’s not a given that the group in Suicide Squad 2 will be Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, Katana and Rick Flagg. But being in the Harley Quinn business with Margot Robbie is smart for DC, so it’s a safe bet that she’ll be in the movie. Unless Will Smith is too expensive, Warner Bros. probably wants his star power. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller bring some prestige too.
But everyone else in the group seems expendable, though the lineup has been pretty consistent throughout Suicide Squad’s comic book run. (Technically, all of these characters are expendable under Waller’s supervision.) Does anyone really want to see Cara Delevingne as the Enchantress again? Maybe all of the cast is contractually obligated to return. That might include Jared Leto’s Joker too.
The possibility of Gunn doing a deep dive on DC’s archive of villains — as he did with Marvel’s cosmic characters — and possibly overhauling the group adds some excitement to this project. (Some villains will surely be dispatched quickly, in order to demonstrate the premise.) Also, Gunn is a proven commodity with superhero blockbusters, unlike Suicide Squad director David Ayer and Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant), who was previously slated to helm Suicide Squad 2.
Personally, I thought Disney had no choice but to fire Gunn after those tweets came out. Yes, those tweets were unearthed by people simply wanting to take down celebrities with liberal views, and Disney could have stood up to that effort. They’re in the family-friendly business and even if Gunn was acting in a persona meant to provoke and shock, that’s not a question executives wanted to keep answering.
We don’t yet know if Marvel will rebound and hire the right director for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but their track record indicates they’ll find the right man or woman for the job. But Gunn’s fingerprints will still be on the movie. Maybe he’ll end up winning by taking on a fresh project for him and providing a boost for DC in the process.
And what if this ends up becoming a bigger role for him with DC Films too? Gunn has experience in helping build the Marvel cinematic universe. Could he do what Zack Snyder couldn’t and put together a cohesive, appealing collection of inter-connected superhero films? If so, this ultimately really could be DC’s gain.