Back in 2016, the burgeoning DC Extended Universe followed up superhero jamboree Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice with a super-villain (or, anti-hero-at-best) team-up movie, David Ayer’s Suicide Squad – uniting a gang of misanthropic oddballs on a quest they weren’t all supposed to survive. But while the film bagged nearly $750 million at the worldwide box office, it didn’t set the world alight for critics, and was considered a disappointment among many fans. Fast-forward half a decade later, and the bad-guys-on-a-suicide-mission comic book project is getting a brand new lease on life in The Suicide Squad – a not-quite-sequel, not-quite-reboot from Guardians Of The Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn.
But, if it’s not necessarily a continuation of Ayer’s film, but not exactly a reboot either (there are several returning characters, including Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag, Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang), what exactly is The Suicide Squad? “Um, it’s its own thing,” Gunn tells Empire in a major world exclusive interview. “It does not contradict the first movie, I don’t think. It might in some small ways… I don’t know…”
For all that Ayer’s film is not considered a narrative success, Gunn has plenty of praise for the original Squad his predecessor assembled, so much so that he brought plenty of them back. “Listen, David Ayer’s gotten trouble for the movie,” he says. “I know it didn’t come out how David wanted it to come out. But he did one really, really great thing, and that is he picked fantastic actors to work with, and he dealt with these actors in building their characters in a really deep and fearless way. It’s something David definitely deserves to be lauded for, and it’s definitely added to this movie.”
With a host of bonkers new players this time around – just look at David Dastmalchian’s Polka Dot Man, or the half-human King Shark, or not-even-half-human Weasel – there are hopes that Gunn can pull off something special with The Suicide Squad. He does, after all, have form in putting together a ‘bunch of A-holes’ in tonally-irreverent comic book adaptations – though his Squad is far less trustworthy than the Guardians. “I think you know, from pretty close to the beginning, that all of the Guardians are good – apart from Nebula, who’s the outlier,” Gunn explains. “But in The Suicide Squad, some of the characters end up being good, some end up being terrible. They don’t just get in fights and say they’re going to kill each other, they actually do get in fights and kill each other. You really don’t know who’s going to live and who’s going to die. I was given full freedom to kill anyone – and I mean anyone – by DC.”
Read Empire’s full world exclusive The Suicide Squad story – talking about the winding road that brought Gunn to DC, rediscovering the filmmaker he wanted to be, his reconnection with Marvel, and more – and see the first-ever images from the film in the new issue of the magazine, on sale Thursday 29 October. Pre-order a copy online here with free UK delivery.