Prior to DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. announcing their full roster of comic book movie films through 2020, talk of a Suicide Squad movie was little more than mostly unsubstantiated rumors. Fans familiar with the anti-hero team were excited at the prospect of a feature film – but many casual moviegoers (and industry insiders) were skeptical that the film could compete in the same space as Marvel’s well-oiled movie-making machine. After all, while Justice League characters are well-known by iconography alone, many of the Suicide Squad’s members are B-list DC villains that, if we’re being honest, non-comic book readers will have only seen as one-off villains on the CW (via Smallville, Arrow, and The Flash).
However, WB. changed many minds when they announced that Suicide Squad wasn’t just a throwaway spinoff, but would play a key role in their growing DC cinematic universe – by introducing a new version of the Joker as well as fan-favorite villainess Harley Quinn. Additionally, the studio made their intentions clear with the casting of A-list celebrities to fill the roster, including Will Smith (playing Deadshot), Jared Leto (the Joker), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), and Viola Davis (Amanda Waller).
Still, one name from the initial announcement is no longer attached to the film, Tom Hardy (who was set to commanding officer Rick Flagg) – who dropped out do to scheduling conflicts (depending on who you believe). Given that Flagg is an original, integral member of the squad in the books, there was little doubt that Warner Bros. would seek a replacement for Hardy and, according to scoops from Latino Review and The Wrap, the studio has found their actor in The Killing lead-turned-RoboCop reboot star Joel Kinnaman.
According to the reports, Kinnaman is currently the front-runner for the role – with The Wrap outright stating that he has the part. No doubt, fans will still wonder what an A-list lead like Hardy (who already left a memorable mark on the DC filmography as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) could have brought to a character as complicated (and kick-ass) as Flagg but Kinnaman is a solid replacement. With names like Joel Edgerton and Jon Bernthal rumored to be in the running for the role – which Jake Gyllenhaal was also approached for – it would seem Kinnaman outpaced a few strong actors to nab the part.
While we’ve yet to see his upcoming thriller with Liam Neeson, Run All Night, some moviegoers were not fond of the 2014 RoboCop reboot; however, it’s hard to blame Kinnaman for any of the film’s shortcomings. In fact, while many viewers still consider José Padilha’s reboot to be unnecessary, there’s no doubt that it succeed in exploring new aspects of the Alex Murphy character – made all the more interesting (and relatable) thanks to Kinnaman’s work in the role. Still, even for those who disliked the new RoboCop, the actor was instrumental in making AMC’s The Killing a cult-hit – with an entertaining as well as routinely moving turn as the morally complex Detective Stephen Holder.
To that end, Kinnaman is a smart fit for Flagg – especially considering potential changes that have been rumored for the character in his transition from the page to screen. As the leader of the Squad and the middleman between Waller and the team’s rogues, the actor would be faced with the same rough-around the edges moral ambiguity that made his Detective Holder so fun to watch.
Add to that the possibility that Flagg’s father, Richard Flagg, has a major role to play in the film – not to mention some equally intriguing actors rumored for the role – and audiences could be treated to an especially engaging take on a character that, more often than not, has been overshadowed by better known villains.
It was never a question that the lesser-known comic role would have a hard time grabbing the spotlight alongside the team’s colorful characters; in fact, the only chance lay in casting a Hollywood heavyweight. But given director David Ayer’s handling of mega-talent in his recent Fury, he doesn’t seem the type to showboat.
If true, Kinnaman’s casting also means Ayer will now have directed both leads of The AMC’s murder mystery, having cast Killing star Mireille Enos in his recent Sabotage. Given the director’s apparent fondness for casting his previous collaborators (End of Watch‘s Gyllenhaal and Sabotage co-star Joe Manganiello still rumored for DC villain Deathstroke), a bonus reunion is more possible than ever before (we can still hope!).
We’ll keep you posted as more official word arrives on this and any other casting, but for now, where does this news fall for you? Does Kinnaman seem another curious choice alongside Jai Courtney’s Boomerang, or a reliable addition to the ensemble cast?
Suicide Squad will be in theaters August 5, 2016.