After months of speculation, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have unveiled their plans for a shared cinematic superhero (and villain) universe - with 10 full-length live-action feature films scheduled for release between now and 2020. Most moviegoers who have been following the studio's recent casting moves, weren't too surprised to see Aquaman and Wonder Woman films officially confirmed; however, there was one entry on the list that came as major surprise - Suicide Squad.
Rumors of a Suicide Squad film have been circulating for years but, even though we'd heard recent reports suggesting it could happen, hardly anyone expected that Warner Bros. would place the movie toward the front of their DC slate (for 2016) - especially since so many of the other announced projects are directly tied to Justice League characters. For that reason, Suicide Squad looked like an outlier but a new source suggests that the film could actually have a very direct tie-in to the larger DC movie universe - with an appearance from Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor.
The report comes from Deadline, who does not elaborate very much - only stating that, on top of recent Suicide Squad casting rumors (which include Will Smith and Ryan Gosling, among others), they're hearing that: "Warner Bros is in discussions with Jesse Eisenberg to take the Lex Luthor character he will unveil in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, and transfer the villain character to Suicide Squad."
Of course, the outlet doesn't make any claims regarding how much Luthor will be in the movie but it's highly unlikely that he'd actually be a central member of the team (though rumors persist that Suicide Squad might feature new team members). No doubt, the most obvious way to include Luthor would be to have him help Amanda Waller form the Squad but we also have two more intricate theories about how the character could fit into a Suicide Squad film as well as ensure that director David Ayer's movie carries significant stakes - stakes that actually matter in a franchise where an entire city was devastated by an alien invasion (in Man of Steel)
Previously, we'd heard that Suicide Squad will be a supervillain heist movie - which inherently means that the team will be sent in to steal an important object. Could it be that Luthor hires the team to steal a piece of Kryptonian artifact or some other advanced piece of technology? If the Justice League film will, as rumored, feature Brainiac as the central villain, it would make sense that whatever Luthor hires the Suicide Squad to steal could be instrumental in building (or summoning) the malevolent evil-doer. There's even precedent in the comic books of a somewhat similar storyline - when Luthor formed a Suicide Squad in "Our Worlds at War" to free Doomsday from imprisonment on the moon (to help battle the universe destroyer Imperiex).
If that plot line doesn't vibe with you, what if the "object" was actually an imprisoned Lex Luthor who has employed the Suicide Squad for jailbreak duty? After all, we don't know for sure how Batman V Superman will end. We can assume that Kal-El, The Dark Knight, and Wonder Woman come together to stop a larger threat but where will Luthor be when the credits roll? Possibly imprisoned when his evil deeds are brought to light by Bruce Wayne? After all, it wouldn't be the first time that a Superman film has ended with the genius billionaire in prison.
In either scenario, Eisenberg could have a major or minor role. If we assume he hires the Squad for a heist, he could simply be used to bookend the film (initially enlisting the team and later meeting with any survivors to receive the acquired object) or he could even serve as an off-site point man - offering technical assistance to the Suicide Squad from a remote location.
Conversely, if Luthor hires the Squad to break him out of a high-tech prison, there'd almost certainly be scenes that feature the supervillain escorted out of the facility - which would require a bigger time commitment from Eisenberg (as opposed to a brief intro, epilogue, and a few isolated solo scenes in the prior scenario). Eisenberg is a pretty busy guy these days - with expectations that he'll appear in Now You See Me 2, Arms And The Dudes, and likely the Zombieland sequel, in addition to multi-picture DC appearances (presumably in Justice League, Man of Steel 2, and possibly more). As a result, it's unclear how much of his schedule he would commit to Suicide Squad - though we also do not know the details of his contract with Warner Bros. It's possible that, in signing up for Lex Luthor, the actor knew he'd be at the studio's beck and call for the next half-decade.
Without question, the addition of Lex Luthor to Suicide Squad would be a smart move for Warner Bros. and DC - since it would help tie the supervillain team (and its individual members) into the larger cinematic universe. Similarly, the move could help draw-in additional viewers to a Suicide Squad movie that might have otherwise not known about the film - or felt that it wasn't essential to their larger DC movie experience.
That all said, as of right now, Deadline's report is simply hearsay - and we'll keep you up to date when (and if) something official is announced. As evidenced in our speculation, including Lex Luthor in Suicide Squad is an intriguing idea and could be a very smart move for writer Justin Marks and Warner Bros.
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on Suicide Squad, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.