The Suicide Squad: James Gunn Talks the Creative Freedom of That R-Rating

To be clear, there are things Gunn absolutely loves about Ayer’s movie. How could he not, when he incorporated so many of the 2016 film’s cast into his own? In Gunn’s mind, Margot Robbie was born to play Harley Quinn, which he hopes to only further highlight by bringing out her “true lunacy” in the new movie. Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller, meanwhile, was the first character he decided to put in his own film. But Gunn is unambiguous on one point: his The Suicide Squad is going to be its own 31 flavors of weird.

“It wasn’t something to contrast the first movie,” Gunn says. “It wasn’t about going through a checklist of this is good, this is bad, this works, this doesn’t… but the concept that John Ostrander started with in the comics, that these are B-grade, shitty superheroes who are considered disposable by the U.S. government and are sent out on these black-ops missions, where they probably won’t make it but who gives a shit because they’re pieces-of-shit prisoners without many skills?”

That is the movie Gunn wanted to make. And he did so with R-rated glee.

Engineered as a standalone epic that might (or might not) be a sequel to the 2016 movie, Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is, in essence, meant to be a spiritual continuation of comic book writer Ostrander’s seminal 1980s run with the team. Davis’ Waller is still the government’s shady lady pulling the strings and recruiting incarcerated sad sacks to do the wet work law enforcement won’t; her point man on the ground remains Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a straight arrow surrounded by coerced supervillains, including familiar faces like Robbie’s delightfully demented Harley, plus new ones such as Idris Elba’s Bloodsport.

The genre Gunn and his cohorts compare this to is war movies, but who they’re going to war against isn’t exactly clear. With that said, recent marketing revealed a comic book deep cut, with the 1950s space alien, Starro, running amok at kaiju-size.

“Starro is hilarious because he’s ridiculous. He’s a giant, cerulean blue starfish, but he’s also fucking terrifying,” Gunn says. “When I was a kid I thought that was the scariest thing of all time… and I think that exemplifies what this movie is: it is ridiculous and it’s also terrifying, and serious. So he works really well as the villain of the movie—as one of the villains, actually.”

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