As The Suicide Squad continues to gear up for production, one big question remains unanswered - who is Idris Elba playing? It was initially reported that the Thor: Ragnarok and Luther star was replacing Will Smith as Deadshot, but it's now confirmed Elba will be playing a completely different character in director James Gunn's much-anticipated sequel.
Gunn's film has recently revealed a slew of casting announcements. David Dastmalchian and Daniela Melchior have signed on as Polka-Dot Man and Ratcatcher, respectively. John Cena is said to be in negotiations for an undisclosed role (presumably Peacemaker), and Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy compatriot Michael Rooker is reportedly in talks to play the delightfully demented King Shark (although Rooker has disputed this claim). Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, and Viola Davis are all expected to reprise their roles from the original film as well.
So now that Gunn has wrangled a genuine Hollywood A-lister in Elba, who will he play? There are a few strong possibilities.
If you're going to put money on who Elba's playing, the safe bet is probably one of John Ostrander's original Task Force X members, Bronze Tiger. Created by legendary comic book writer Dennis O'Neil, Bronze Tiger - real name Ben Turner - is an expert martial artist who has fought the likes of Batman and Lady Shiva to a standstill. More of an antihero than a villain, Bronze Tiger played an important role in writer Ostrander's Suicide Squad comic run, including eventually becoming the team's field leader. James Gunn has commented that Ostrander's run is the definitive version of the team for him, making Bronze Tiger's inclusion all the more likely.
This wouldn't be the first time Bronze Tiger has shown up in a live action production; he's been a recurring character on Arrow for several seasons, played by Michael Jai White. That version of the character is a little less nuanced than the comic version, and Elba's iteration would likely ignore the work done with the character on the CW.
It was recently rumored by GWW that James Gunn is seeking an actress to play the role of Idris Elba's character's daughter, a teenage thief who is mostly estranged from her father. Due to this information, have begun to swirl that Elba could be playing Deathstroke. It's easy to see why; Elba was originally reported to be replacing Will Smith in the role of Deadshot, and there are aesthetic similarities between Deadshot and Deathstroke, both of whom also famously have daughters. Deathstroke isn't generally associated with the Suicide Squad, but he did briefly join the team during DC's New 52 relaunch.
The problem, of course, is there's already a DCEU Deathstroke in the guise of Joe Manganiello, who appeared briefly in Justice League's after-credits scene. Given Warner Bros. opted not to recast Will Smith's Deadshot, it would be weird for them to go and recast Manganiello's Deathstroke instead. Manganiello and Gunn also have an existing relationship, as Gunn played in Manganiello's Dungeons and Dragon's group. It is still unclear if that version of the character will appear on screen again, as he was purportedly tied to plans for Ben Affleck's now-defunct solo Batman film, although Manganiello has hinted at future plans for the character. However, if for some reason the studio is ready to move on from Manganiello, Elba would be a more than worthy successor.
Another villain and sometimes Suicide Squad member famous for having a daughter is Sportsmaster. An Olympic level athlete, sometimes depicted as having "photographic reflexes," Sportsmaster uses his athleticism and sports-themed gadgets and weapons to get the job done. As a natural athlete, he's also skilled in hand-to-hand combat.
The version of the character created by John Ostrander is Victor Gover, although the more well-known incarnation of the character is Lawrence "Crusher" Crock, the father of Cheshire and Artemis as made famous through Young Justice. Interesting enough, Crusher Crock's wife was Paula Brooks, AKA Huntress. Huntress is also set to appear in Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn); however, Helena Bertinelli will be the her alter-ego in that movie, and while she's not exactly too young to have a teenage daughter, it'd be a stretch to assume they're combining these versions of the character for crossover purposes.
Idris Elba is one of the few Hollywood stars with enough gravitas and charm to replace Will Smith, and it's hard to imagine The Suicide Squad won't hinge largely on the personal journey of his character. We may not know who that character is just yet, but Gunn's track record and passion for the project mean we should probably all have faith that he'll make the right choice.
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021