If Zack Snyder’s Justice League didn’t quench your thirst for more DC movie mayhem, we still have The Suicide Squad to look forward to in 2021. Warner Bros. just released a new trailer for the long-awaited DCEU sequel, and James Gunn stopped by IGN to provide some director’s commentary on this new footage.
Check out Gunn’s video commentary in the player above or embedded below:
If you want to see the highlights from Gunn’s commentary, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn more about how characters like Bloodsport and Ratcatcher II anchor the movie and why Harley Quinn’s new costume seems so familiar.
Bloodsport’s Connection to Superman
The new trailer positions Idris Elba’s Bloodsport as one of the main protagonists of the sequel. We learn two key details about Robert DuBois – he’s in prison for shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet, and Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is using DuBois’ daughter Tyla (Storm Reid) as leverage to convince him to join Task Force X.
The Superman backstory is taken directly from the comics, as Bloodsport came close to killing the Man of Steel in a 1987 story. However, fans shouldn’t expect that confrontation to be shown via flashback in The Suicide Squad. While Gunn confirms the film is still set within the larger DCEU, even he’s not sure what DC’s future Superman plans are at the moment.
“Bloodsport is in prison for putting Superman into the ICU with a kryptonite bullet. Yes, The Suicide Squad is a part of the DCEU, but I don’t know which Superman it was because I don’t cast the next Superman. So it could be Henry [Cavill]; it could be somebody else. It’s whoever people decide on other than me.”
The Suicide Squad Who’s Who: Full Cast and Character Reveals
In many other ways, however, The Suicide Squad’s Bloodsport is very different from the source material. Interestingly, Gunn reveals he originally wrote the part with Elba in mind, even though wasn’t sure which character Elba would actually be playing.
“The truth is I wrote this role for Idris Elba, not knowing which character from the comics I was going to use,” Gunn says. “And there were lots of times of using different characters, including a made-up character. So what I did instead was I took one of the characters I liked from the comics, by the name of Bloodsport.”
Gunn continues, “In the comics, his ability is to pull weaponry out of thin air. And the way we interpret that in this film is he has a costume that is covered with all these different gadgets that he uses, all this weaponry that are these transforming pieces of weaponry. And then he has this sort of creepy, Xenomorph-looking skull helmet, which I liked a lot. So I fell in love with the design, even though it looks very different from Bloodsport’s comic suit, [where he] wears camo pants and a bandana.”
Harley Quinn’s New Costume
Margot Robbie is reprising her role as Harley Quinn, making her one of only a handful of Suicide Squad actors to return for the sequel. It remains to be seen whether the movie will delve into her history with Joker and Batman, but we do know Harley is sporting a very different look this time around.
“Of course, one of the many things that people asked me the most about The Suicide Squad, before I was hired, was ‘What is Margot going to wear?’ What is Harley going to look like? Are you bringing her red and black wardrobe into the movies?’ And so my answer to that, yes.”
Harley fans may notice her new costume shares more than a passing resemblance to the Harley Quinn of the Arkham video games, particularly 2011’s Batman: Arkham City. Gunn confirms those games were a huge point of inspiration for her look in this movie.
“The truth is I had a huge map of different books of Harley Quinn throughout the years in various media, and one of them I liked the best was the Arkham games look of Harley Quinn,” Gunn says. “Her first look in the movie is based on that. I knew I wanted to have something written on the back of her jacket, motorcycle gang style, and so that’s where I came up with ‘Live fast, die clown.’ Although there were some other options. We also made a jacket that says ‘Clown AF’ and we had another jacket that says ‘World’s Best Grandpa.’ And it was between those three different jackets.”
The trailer also hints at a surprising shift in the relationship between Harley and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), with Gunn confirming that their unlikely bond will be one of many subplots explored in the sequel.
“[Harley] likes most of the Suicide Squad numbers, but she sort of hates Rick Flag because he’s the opposite of what she thinks is cool. She likes weirdos,” Gunn says. “She comes into the situation and she thinks Weasel is great because he’s just this oddball character. And she thinks of Rick Flag as this uptight military man. This is not something that’s a central focus of the film, but it is something that’s there in the peripheral stuff. And so their relationship is something important and there’s a move throughout the movie of how they relate to each other and how they think of each other and specifically how Harley thinks of Rick.”
Creating Sympathetic DC Villains
Prior to hopping over to the DCEU, Gunn made a name for himself in the MCU directing the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, where he helped make formerly obscure characters like Star-Lord, Gamora and Groot into household names. There are obvious comparisons to be drawn between these two comic book movie franchises, and Gunn makes it clear The Suicide Squad is all about finding the humanity within these misfit, little-known villains. That goes for the film’s main nemesis, Starro, as much as anyone else.
“I knew early on that I wanted to have Starro be one of the primary antagonists for this movie,” Gunn says. “He’s a character who I love from DC Comics. He is a giant walking, thinking, cerulean blue starfish. He is both utterly ridiculous and terrifying to me and has been terrifying since I was a very young person, but I also think he goes along with what’s happening in the rest of this movie. This isn’t a movie about good guys and bad guys. It’s a movie about shades of gray.”
Gunn also teases the idea of The Suicide Squad exploring the ethical quandaries behind Task Foirce X. It’s one thing to send convicted felons on life-or-death missions for a chance at reduced sentences, but what about characters like Weasel (Sean Gunn) and King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone) who don’t exactly have full human intelligence?
“Imagine if they took a German shepherd and they threw them onto the ship and said, ‘Okay, now go fight in this war, and we’re just going to throw you into the water’,” Gunn says. “Unlike Rocket or even Groot or other CGI characters I’ve dealt with, Weasel is barely more than an animal at that, and he has no clue what is happening around him.”
“King Shark is a little bit smarter than Weasel, but that’s not really saying much,” Gunn adds. “He is just a giant fish who likes eating beings and doesn’t think of anything more than that, other than hoping that perhaps people will think he’s smart and wanting to belong a little bit.”
The Suicide Squad – New Character Posters
The Importance of Ratcatcher II
The trailer also hints at a bond between Bloodsport and Ratcatcher II (Daniela Melchior). In fact, Gunn tells IGN that Ratcatcher is among the most important characters in the sequel, going so far as to describe her as “the heart of the film.” Much of her arc stems from the legacy of the Ratcatcher name and the fact that Ratcatcher II isn’t a stone-cold killer like most of her teammates.
“She is an innocent, compared to the rest of them,” Gunn says. “She’s taken up the mantle of her father, the original Ratcatcher. She controls rats like her father did, but she’s also in prison for robbing a bank. She isn’t the murderer. She has never been a murderer and almost all the rest of the Suicide Squad members are murderers for one reason or another.”
As for her relationship with Bloodsport, Gunn hints that Ratcatcher becomes a sort of surrogate daughter to DuBois, even as he’s risking his life to help his real daughter out of a legal jam.
“I think what she brings out is this relationship between her and Bloodsport, which is very much a father-daughter relationship. Bloodsport has only agreed to go on this mission because of Amanda Waller threatening his daughter. And he does not have a good relationship with his daughter and through Ratcatcher II, he starts to maybe soften a bit. And I think through the movie we learn both of them have a very specific and special journey that works intimately off of each other.”
The Suicide Squad opens in theaters and on HBO Max on August 6.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.