The Suicide Squad: Everything we know about James Gunn's upcoming film

Idris Elba, Nathan Fillion and John Cena will join Margot Robbie and others returning from the first movie.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
4 min read

The Suicide Squad is coming back, with a fresh take from new director James Gunn.

Warner Bros.

It sounds like an unbeatable concept: A secret government agency recruits supervillains -- not heroes this time -- to save the world. The baddies are often way more entertaining than the straitlaced superheroes, so why not give them the spotlight? Unfortunately, Suicide Squad, which came out in 2016 and was based on the DC Comics team, earned mixed reviews. But the sequel could be a completely different experience, thanks to director James Gunn.

Best known for directing Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy films, Gunn was infamously fired by Disney and Marvel in 2018 because of offensive tweets he'd sent a decade ago. Disney/Marvel later rehired him, but in the meantime, he'd signed on with Marvel competitor DC to direct The Suicide Squad, the second film to take on the supervillain group.

Gunn is finishing The Suicide Squad before he moves on to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. It'll be fascinating to see how the first and second Suicide Squad films compare, and if the magical combination of elements that made Guardians so popular can translate to the DC universe.

The basics

We'll need to get the title right for starters: It's technically titled The Suicide Squad, though certainly some people will refer to it as Suicide Squad 2. (Yes, only that one word, "the," separates it from the original film's title.) And Gunn has said it's not technically a sequel, but instead a new take on the concept. From other directors, that might sound like boilerplate, but from Gunn, whose creativity made Guardians such a hit, it's believable.

Don't expect a faithful sequel to that first film -- new characters are coming. Gunn said on Instagram in September 2019 that he'd take inspiration from various comics but that his "primary source of inspiration is the Ostrander run." He's referring to the Suicide Squad comic series created by John Ostrander in 1987, which included Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, becoming the computer expert Oracle.

Release date, production info

In an answer to a reader question on the above Instagram post, Gunn revealed that shooting was beginning in September 2019. But don't rush out for tickets just yet. The movie isn't scheduled to be released in the US until Aug. 6, 2021.

The first movie was mainly filmed in Toronto, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that The Suicide Squad will shoot in Georgia for three weeks, then move to Panama for more filming.

On Sept. 29, 2019, Gunn revealed on Twitter that Marvel Studios doesn't seem to be mad at him for his venture into DC's territory. Instead, executives at Marvel sent him a start-of-production gift along with best wishes. The gift is a scrapbook of his work on the Guardians franchise, so maybe it's also a reminder that Marvel is eager to have him back on their side of things.

"As I've said so many times, at the end of the day, Marvel & DC fans have a lot more in common than they do not," Gunn said in a later tweet. "I am now & have been for almost all my life, both."

Cast: Who's who?

Well, there's a massive cast, as Gunn himself revealed in a tweet sent out in mid-September 2019. "Don't get too attached," he warned, which doesn't bode well for survival rates. And we don't know who everyone is playing, but this is a high-powered cast to be sure.

Plot news, rumors, theories

Shot down

Will Smith played expert assassin Deadshot in the first film but didn't sign on for the second. When Idris Elba was cast, he reportedly was set to play that role, but Variety reports that Elba is now slated to play someone else. That makes sense: Smith's many fans won't feel he was replaced, and should Smith want to return in future films, even in a cameo, that option would be there.

Friends forever

Nathan Fillion's representatives didn't respond to a request for comment, but come on, the man who played Captain Mal Reynolds in Firefly and Serenity is definitely in this movie. Fillion and Gunn are buddies, and Fillion has had a part in every movie Gunn has ever directed. Gunn calls him "one of my best friends in the world."

No joke

Jared Leto played a memorable Joker in the first movie, and there were reports that he'd be involved in future Suicide Squad projects, maybe even with a solo Joker film. But in 2019, Forbes reported that was no longer happening, and Leto doesn't appear to be involved in this movie either.

Tuning up

Music is a vitally important part of James Gunn's Guardians films, and the director has said it'll play an integral but different role in The Suicide Squad, too.

"Music is an incredibly important part of ALL of my films, both soundtrack and score," Gunn wrote on Twitter. "So, yeah. But it will be a lot different than Guardians musically -- and in so many other ways."

Making peace

John Cena's role hasn't been officially announced, but some reports claim that the wrestler-actor is playing Peacemaker, an extreme pacifist who has no problem using violence to try to achieve his aims. Variety reporter Justin Kroll tweeted that the role was originally intended for Dave Bautista, another former wrestler, who plays Drax the Destroyer in Gunn's Guardians movies.

Big hairy deal

Peter Capaldi's role hasn't been revealed, but the Doctor Who star says he's completely bald for the part. That made some fans wonder if he'll be playing Lex Luthor, but he also mentioned his costuming involving "prosthetics," which wouldn't seem to be necessary for Luthor.

This story was first published on Sept. 26, 2019, and will be updated.

2019 movies to geek out over

See all photos