Following his dismissal by Disney and Marvel Studios earlier this year, James Gunn has migrated to Warner Bros. and the DC Comics universe to write the sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad. Sources at the studio told The Wrap that Gunn’s script will be a “brand new take on the DC property.” This would confer upon Suicide Squad the title of “fastest comic book movie reboot,” defeating Spider-Man’s old record.
Many critics noted the superficial similarities between Suicide Squad and Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies for Marvel, including their use of a popular-music soundtrack and a quirky ensemble of antiheroes. The internet of late summer 2016 was full of articles with titles to the effect of “Suicide Squad is the poor man’s Guardians of the Galaxy.” From an extremely cynical businessman’s standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to hire the guy that made the original to perfect the copy.
And yet, it was a lack of understanding of why Guardians worked that doomed Suicide Squad, so I’m hesitant to praise the decision. If the reasoning here is to just have him make another Guardians except with different characters, the studios are in for a surprise. This problem is likely to be exacerbated if the movie ends up in the same kind of development hell as the first, with dozens of disparate individuals and voices all fighting for control. At the same time, DC is reportedly eyeing Gunn for the directing job himself, so perhaps it’s too early to make a judgment in this regard.
Perhaps a bigger problem is James Gunn’s beef with Jared Leto, the subject matter of which unfortunately overlaps with Disney’s reasons for firing him, thus forming possibly the most unholy Venn diagram ever. Leto has not responded to Gunn’s barbs, but his fans have stepped up to defend him with a vengeance, and I think it’s safe to say that in 2018, accusations of sexual misconduct do not a happy set make. This may affect the appearance of Leto’s Joker in the film. Perhaps he can loop in Joaquin Phoenix‘s Joker for Suicide Squad 2 instead.
Gunn was defended by fans and the Guardians cast when allegations first surfaced. Dave Bautista was particularly vehement in his defense, slamming alt-right-er Mike Cernovich, who drudged up Gunn’s old tweets to begin the controversy, as well as Disney management. However, Disney CEO Bob Iger told The Hollywood Reporter that he has not reconsidered the studio’s position on Gunn. Bautista has threatened to quit the franchise if Gunn’s script for the third film is not used. He also now expressed excitement for Gunn’s involvement in Suicide Squad 2:
Where do I sign up! James Gunn Boards ‘Suicide Squad 2’ To Write And Possibly Direct – Deadline https://t.co/OwdDbAm1Ks
— Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) October 9, 2018
One wonders if casting is entirely in Gunn’s hands. Will this “brand new take” be recast? If so, Bautista will more than likely join the Squad, though as what character is tough to call. Same goes for Gunn regulars Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn. It’s unlikely that Harley Quinn will be recast, however. Margot Robbie‘s Harley is quickly becoming one of the few defining elements of the DC Extended Universe (aka Worlds of DC). I think it’s too soon to make a call on any of the others since we don’t even know if the movie will even be sticking with the same villains from the first or rebooting with a new iteration of the Suicide Squad.
Overall, I’m excited to see what Gunn can bring to DC. The Guardians movies are pretty iconic, and, given the context surrounding the allegations against him, I’m with Bautista and his castmates. But at the same time, this decision by Warner Bros. execs smells suspiciously like the same mistake that they’ve made with most of the DC movies to date, copying the tropes and trappings of a successful film without understanding why it was good. And yet, trailers for Aquaman and Shazam have given me some hope for DC movies, so I’m willing to give Suicide Squad 2 a chance. We’ll see if Gunn’s writing, and possibly his direction, are enough to help me find love again.
Meanwhile, Gunn’s other project currently in the works, a horror film titled BrightBurn, has been pushed back to May 24, 2019, presumably to accommodate his new gig. Not much about the film is known, but Elizabeth Banks is in it and David Yarovesky is slated to direct.