With characters like Batman, The Flash, and the similarly-crowded corners of the DC Universe, it really is an embarrassment of riches where the company's villains are concerned. Director David Ayer made it known when revealing the first footage of his DCEU film that he believes DC Comics to possess the best supervillains in the comic book world – and he should know, since he’s the first director to build a big-budget blockbuster around villainous characters. More specifically: villainous characters playing the hero due to the bomb ticking inside each of their heads. A literal Suicide Squad.
And having such fertile ground from which to grow a potential DCEU franchise, it didn’t take long for fans to start spinning wild theories, rumors or friendly conversations about which villains deserved to appear on screen. The Suicide Squad is a title, not a specific roster, meaning Ayer had dozens of characters to choose from when beginning his screenplay for the film. And when we visited the set of the movie back in July 2015, we finally got to ask him how he decided on his final roster.
It really is an odd proposition for a comic book movie writer to be offered: in a genre where tentpole characters, multi-film arcs or shared universes tend to dictate some requirements (characters planned to appear that need introductions, ones popular in the comics or other media, etc.), Ayer seems to have had his pick of the litter. Of course, there are the usual suspects: Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), the team’s leader, Deadshot (Will Smith) the team’s... other leader, Boomerang (Jai Courtney) who shows the worst case scenario of putting villains in the field… and from there, the selection goes wide open.
When asked point blank about how he decided who made the cut and who didn’t, Ayer showed his comic book history by singling out the two most obvious choices:
“I mean Deadshot’s a no-brainer, because he’s just a core element of that team… he’s a supervillain. I mean, he’s a bad guy. They’re all bad guys, that’s the beauty of this… I think Will’s incredibly versatile and can handle any kind of role you throw at him. He’s definitely… it’s funny because none of the normal words apply. I wouldn’t say he’s the father figure of the team, because it’s like herding cats. They don’t care. But he definitely has that the leadership quality, and it’s a great character for him.
“It is a lot of fun to see how Boomerang, Captain Boomerang… who is sort of the most villainous of all these characters… it’s just been a blast creating this absolutely kinetic, out of control force of nature with Jai. You know the character paradigms: he’s like ‘Evil Chaotic.’"
For fans of the most recent New 52 incarnation of the “Suicide Squad” (who bear some interesting similarities to the movie version…) it’s no surprise to see Floyd “Deadshot” Lawton and Boomerang singled out – they’re the two men most likely to butt heads over the team’s course of action. Where Lawton wishes to get the job done, Boomerang wishes… well, absolutely anything else.
Jai Courtney’s chance to play a beer-drinking Australian bruiser is something we’re looking forward to after seeing him in action, but the rest of the cast fills out the archetypes nicely. There’s Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) to provide truly brutal muscle, Diablo (Jay Hernandez) to provide a superpower, and Slipknot (Adam Beach) to most likely prove that Amanda Waller ain't kidding about the bombs in their heads.
And then there’s Harley Quinn. As the blue-and- red-dyed slugstress of the DC Universe (and increasingly visible mascot of the company’s sense of humor or sex appeal), she too was a no- brainer. But once Ayer began to weigh the requirements of her inclusion, he learned he couldn't go far without running into her green-haired partner in crime:
“I got attracted to Harley through the New 52 version but then I really started going ‘Okay, what is this character’ [laughs]. And then you get absorbed into her standalone things, and you get into her origins, and her relationship with Joker is so defining that it seemed like ‘Okay, you have to have… it’s salt and pepper.’ You gotta have one with the other. I mean they go together like knife and fork.”
After delivering that unforgettable description, Ayer went on to admit that Suicide Squad is a new venture for the studio (and the genre), and the choice of who to include only got harder as the cast grew. But their future in the DCEU may not yet be known, which means casting what he calls a “family with interlocking skills that will complement everybody else’s” in this film, today.
The director made sure to give a bit of a tease, hinting that there were some characters who were considered, but ditched. But judging by the early buzz for the movie, a sequel appearance is definitely not out of the question:
“It’s crazy how many characters there are. I mean they keep killing them all, blowing their heads off. And that’s the beauty of this, too, you know no one’s safe. No matter who is in the movie, they’re not safe. Anything can happen. Yeah, I mean there’s definitely early rosters, but I think the core team was always there.”
We'll leave fans to speculate on which characters were considered before being cut, but with all sources promising sequels, spinoffs and other team-ups before long, Ayer may get the chance to include each and every Suicide Squad member when all is said and done.
Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman is slated for release on June 2, 2017; followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash is currently without release date.