When the premise of a major comic book blockbuster hinges on a collection of well-known villains, it goes without saying that fan speculation will be running as high as possible. Surprisingly, Warner Bros. managed to keep Suicide Squad's cast under wraps until they were almost ready to make an official announcement, revealing a half-dozen villains to be played by A-list stars, with lesser-known, second tier villains soon to follow.
With official word and confirmation that Will Smith will play Deadshot, and Margot Robbie and Jared Leto playing Harley Quinn and The Joker, it was the actors in unknown roles who became the subject of fan speculation. Few have garnered as much attention as actor Scott Eastwood, whose addition to Suicide Squad was mired in rumors proven to be... less than accurate.
As one of the few remaining mysteries - and therefore, among the most hotly-debated - we thought it best to clear the air about who he may, and may not be playing.
For those who haven't followed Suicide Squad, or Eastwood's involvement from the very start, a bit of a refresher. When word first broke that Eastwood - having played a number of small roles over his decade of acting experience - had joined the cast of Squad, it seemed simple enough. With a small but memorable role in David Ayer's Fury, it seemed the actor was being called on to serve a similar purpose in Suicide Squad.
That all changed when internet scooper El Mayimbe claimed Eastwood had been cast as Wonder Woman love interest Steve Trevor, to be introduced in Suicide Squad before sharing the screen with Gal Gadot in the standalone Wonder Woman film. It seemed hard to believe at the time given Eastwood's lack of leading man experience, and soon after, those rumors were refuted by yet another report. Apparently Eastwood had been given the chance to test for the Wonder Woman role alongside other actors, but had instead chosen to accept the role in Ayer's film.
Yet the rumors and speculation over his role has yet to subside, as even more high-profile DC Comics characters have been suggested. Let's run down the most recent, along with a few other candidates.
Who He's (Probably) NOT Playing
Despite the reports that Eastwood had passed on his shot at Steve Trevor - a main cast member in a film currently still in the development process, having just switched directors - the rumors continue to pop up. It had seemed immensely unlikely that Warner Bros. had given Scott Eastwood such a shortcut to blockbuster success: a supporting role as - according to set photos - one of several U.S. soldiers escorting the Squad makes sense.
The character may have a name torn from the comic book pages, but fans need to start accepting that not every established character adapted in a comic book movie is a sign of a standalone franchise, or adherence to every one of their comic book arcs. But for reason totally unrelated to Eastwood's experience, the Steve Trevor reports always seemed off. With WB clearly prioritizing individual creativity for their shared universe movies, allowing Ayer to cast a past collaborator for a significant role in another director's film, without any input, makes little sense.
In hindsight, Eastwood may have made the smartest choice, taking a role with a director he respects immensely - even before Wonder Woman saw its director replaced due to creative differences with the studio. (Even more so if Star Trek lead Chris Pine really has signed on for the part of Steve Trevor.) In a shared universe of Hollywood A-listers, Eastwood seems a strong fit for a character expected to demand less of a franchise spotlight, or one whose future on film has simply not been decided upon - or both.
Going by set photos, Eastwood looks to be an American soldier working for ARGUS, likely serving under Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), escorting Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and the Squad into the Midway City warzone. But with what appears to be a simple "GQ" where his last name should be, the answer may be revealed. Whether the name refers to his looks, or his service in the Navy ("General Quarters"), Eastwood's character's true identity, one could assume, will be a secret from the surrounding cast and audience.
And that assumption means that all rumors are valid until airtight evidence arrives.
DC Comics fans were elated to hear rumors that Deathstroke the Terminator would be joining in on the Suicide Squad action, with True Blood's Joe Manganiello the apparent frontrunner (again, as reported by Latino-Review's El Mayimbe). Not only did Manganiello drop out of talks soon after, but he claimed that the part he was pursuing was not that of Deathstroke a.k.a. Slade Wilson. And the actor rumored to replace him has also been tied to an entirely different role.
Yet Eastwood remains an unknown, making him the latest to be considered for the part of Slade Wilson; in this case, due to a wardrobe tag sporting "S. Wilson" spotted behind the scenes. But almost as soon as the rumor arrived, fans were (understandably) skeptical. Not only did they expect a more physically imposing and experienced actor for the role of "DC's deadliest assassin," but Eastwood is far younger than nearly every incarnation of Deathstroke - even stranger given WB's indifference to casting youthful stars for their shared universe.
But it's the previous reports that seem most telling to us. Assuming that Eastwood was given the chance to test for Steve Trevor (reported by other outlets at this point), and chose the Suicide Squad role instead, something doesn't add up. A role as Wonder Woman's love interest demands competition with other leading actors, but a part as veteran villain to the Squad, Batman, Superman, the Teen Titans and the Justice League is Eastwood's for the taking?
It's possible he is playing Slade Wilson (although the secrecy in his set photos is pointless if his other wardrobe may as well be labeled 'Deathstroke'), but Eastwood's casting and inclusion in ARGUS's forces is a clear sign that the character is being significantly re-imagined.
We'll remind fans once again that not every DC Comics character set to appear in the DC Movie Universe may do so in their best-known persona. But the sheer volume of rumors and speculation surrounding Dick Grayson a.k.a. Robin in this movie universe has us keeping our eyes peeled for any clarification. And as strange as it may seem, Eastwood's undercover (or 'secretive') ARGUS agent could be a new take on Robin.
It's hard to discuss this theory without potentially spoiling aspects of Batman's backstory in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but we'll keep it vague by saying that Ben Affleck's Dark Knight will have some experience with sidekicks - plural. It's hard to know just how much Jason Todd will factor in, and some alleged set photos seem to clarify Dick Grayson's existence in the universe's timeline. But even if clandestine proof came out tomorrow that Dick Grayson did exist, but was killed in a tragic cotton candy disaster, fans could still claim that he may appear.
They would, most likely, point to DC's New 52 universe, in which Batman and Robin faked the latter's death, allowing Grayson to infiltrate a shadowy organization and gather intelligence for Bruce Wayne's archives. It's absolutely a case of wishful thinking, but recent reports have shown that Batman will play a significant role in Suicide Squad, as both he and Amanda Waller seek to gain the upper hand on the other.
Could a closing scene in which "GQ" calls in to the Dark Knight to give a debrief on the Squad's efficiency finally dispel all this secrecy? It wouldn't guarantee a large role for Grayson in the universe's future, and with the studio's understandable hesitance over a live-action Robin, giving Ayer and Eastwood a chance to prove themselves could be a compromise.
The Most Likely Answer
The simplest explanation is, as usual, a far less exciting one. Going by what's actually known about Eastwood's character - he's an armed soldier, operating alongside Rick Flag and Task Force X in combat - it's most likely that he is... well, a soldier operating alongside the Squad. To date, there's no actual evidence of a more substantial role (in terms of comic book history), and fans seem to be guaranteeing disappointment when he's revealed as such.
To be clear, it's unfair to assume that a DC Comics character is inherently more interesting than what David Ayer could create from scratch. The pitch of Task Force X is simple enough - a group of incarcerated villains sent on suicide missions for shortened sentences - but that isn't the whole story. For starters, there's their commanding officer Rick Flag; innocent of any crime, Flag is (traditionally) brought in to lead the group based on his own battle scars and trauma. And in the film version, he may not be the only one.
No explanation has been offered as to why soldiers would accompany the Squad on their 'suicide' mission, but loyalty to Flag, unparalleled combat skills, or simply a death wish are all likely candidates. Eastwood's costume design distinguishes him from the rank and file soldiers, so it seems he will play a more important role fighting at Flag's side. Whether or not his name is shared by a soldier from the pages of DC Comics, that seems a far safer expectation than a blockbuster villain in disguise.
This is all speculation on our part, but as the rumors of a monumental, top secret role or plot twist have grown, we thought it wise to temper expectations. It's not bad news, since we have every suspicion that Ayer is keen on telling the story of the street-level soldiers of the DC Movie Universe every bit as much as his supervillain family.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.