Before Warner Bros. DC Comics villain team-up has begun production, it's already making some surprising headlines. Not long after the full cast of Suicide Squad was announced to include some award-winning heavy hitters (and have added one more since then), the film's numbers have apparently dropped by one.
For unknown reasons, it seems that Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road) has dropped out of the film - but Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) may already be in the running to replace him as Rick Flagg, the decorated soldier charged with leading the squad of convicted killers and mercenaries.
First, the bad news. After several sources got word that Hardy had been forced to leave the project (set to begin production in April of this year), TheWrap reports it is due to The Revenant - in which Hardy stars with Leonardo DiCaprio - running over schedule. Add in the required promotional tour for the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, and the window closed entirely.
Thankfully, it seems that Hardy's replacement may have already been found, as the outlet also reports that Jake Gyllenhaal is being sought by director David Ayer (having previously starred in the writer/director's End of Watch). Considering the accolades Gyllenhaal earned for his turn in Nightcrawler, and the pounds of muscle he's packed on for his role in Southpaw, the timing couldn't be better.
It's hard to know exactly what this news means for the film as a whole. Losing a name like Hardy is always something to be avoided, but adding Gyllenhaal - an actor being more heavily discussed in award conversations than ever before - could end up bringing even more attention to the film (and when the comic characters being adapted are less than household names, attention is always a good thing).
Would Hardy have been able to appeal to both the critic crowd and the action fans - especially post-Fury Road - more than Gyllenhaal? It's possible. But so little is known about the character of Rick Flagg, in both the film's story and among casual comic readers, that the move isn't likely to ruffle the feathers of too many fans. He's presumed to be the hands-on commander of the Suicide Squad, directly reporting to A.R.G.U.S. Director Amanda Waller (a role WB hopes will be played by Viola Davis) but how much screen time he'll actually see is anyone's guess.
There may have been a time when replacing the man beneath the mask in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises with Gyllenhaal would have seemed ridiculous, but the latter has been on a tear recently, showing that complex or dramatic tales are his current passion (Nightcrawler, Prisoners, Everest, Enemy). That's one promising endorsement for Suicide Squad if he signs on - or it could simply be his chance to play a comic book superhero, after almost succeeding an injured Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2.
What do you think about the potential swap? Would you be more excited to see Gyllenhaal reunited with Ayer on Suicide Squad, or did Hardy seem like a solid addition to the cast? Sound off in the comments.
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.