Few would have guessed that out of DC and WB's entire upcoming movie line-up, it would be the villainous ensemble cast of Suicide Squad stirring up some of the most headline-worthy reports to date. But with reports that Warner Bros. is looking to recruit Jared Leto for their new Joker, and Margot Robbie as his partner-in-crime Harley Quinn, it's been unclear just how closely writer/director David Ayer would be keeping to the comic book source material.
Whatever villains of the DC universe will or won't be joining the Squad on screen, the presence of Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot has never been in question. Now, it seems that the studio has also found its frontrunner for that central figure, looking to up and coming action star Jai Courtney (Divergent, Terminator: Genysis). And according to the report from Variety, the role in question is, indeed, a "major" one.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the comic team (or their recent adaptation for The CW's Arrow), the ragtag group of incarcerated villains and mercenaries - referred to by David Ayer as "the Dirty Dozen with supervillains" - has routinely featured Deadshot as a primary figure. Essentially the de fact leader of the Squad when on mission, Lawton is a man of few words, revered by many as one of the deadliest assassins in DC's catalogue.
Although Courtney may not have the name recognition of some of the other actors on WB's shortlist (Will Smith, Ryan Gosling and Tom Hardy), his star is certainly on the rise. Although his roles in big budget films like A Good Day To Die Hard, Divergent and the upcoming Terminator: Genysis haven't been the flawless blockbusters needed to catapult him to status as the next big action star, his work as an intimidating, calculating man of action in Jack Reacher is still arguably his most memorable role - and an idea of what to expect from a potential Deadshot.
Beyond Courtney's potential casting as the long-time Batman villain - and what future roles may lie in store once Ben Affleck's Batman stars in his own solo adventures - Variety also clarifies the remaining actors being considered for roles, and just which comic characters will be adapted for this big screen adaptation of the Squad. Unsurprisingly at this point, the previously rumored villain roster seems to have thrown fans off the trail, with Ayer and WB relying on some more intriguing choices.
With Leto being pursued for Joker (after Ryan Gosling passed on the part), Robbie in place for Harley Quinn, and Courtney tied to Deadshot, that leaves Will Smith and Tom Hardy to bring two more DC villains to life. According to the outlet's sources, Smith is most likely being sought to play George "Digger" Harkness a.k.a. Captain Boomerang, a fan favorite Flash villain (we were holding out hope of seeing Smith's physique put to use as Bronze Tiger or Blockbuster, but perhaps an Australian accent may be just as rewarding).
As for Hardy, it's a role as Rick Flag that the studio has in mind: a character from the original incarnation of the Suicide Squadron, a WWII unit (of which Flag was the only survivor). His son would go on to take his role in the assembled team of villains and mercenaries as a colleague of Amanda Waller, the supervisor of the team (officially known as Task Force X).
Some might laugh at the idea of Hardy re-joining the DC movie universe after portraying Bane in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, but the role he's apparently being pursued for is of particular interest. It was Hardy's imposing size that made him memorable as the masked villain, but a role as Rick Flag implies something quite different.
More than anything, an opportunity for a wealth of dialogue, not just action sequences. And with films like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy showing Hardy's gift for gripping tension in ensemble casts, Suicide Squad could benefit from the actor also taking a starring role. Flag's decorated military service makes him a logical leader for the Squad, after all. Even if the criminals and killers he's expected to lead are in need of some... motivation.
The reports that Jesse Eisenberg may reprise his Batman V Superman role as Lex Luthor also continue, but may seem less certain as more characters (and established actors) are confirmed. Take all these details with a grain of salt until further news, but at this point, it looks like Suicide Squad's release as the first DC film to follow Dawn of Justice is beginning to make more sense.
What was initially viewed as 'a team-up film starring comic book villains' now has the potential to provide some serious connective tissue for WB's entire slate of superhero films. With two iconic Batman foes, a Flash villain, and a high-ranking member of ARGUS (DC's shadowy government organization), there may be a surprising amount of the DC universe introduced by the end of 2016. Either that's a case of establishing a foundation for use later, or DC's 'shared universe' may continue to follow a very, very different formula than Marvel.
We'll keep you updated on casting as news arrives. For now, what do you make of the rumored roster and cast? Is Suicide Squad seeming like a more and more important film for Zack Snyder's Justice League continuity, or do you still have your doubts? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for Suicide Squad updates, as well as TV, movie and gaming news.
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