From the outrageous opening scene that kicks everything off with an almighty bang, you know that you are in for an absolute blast with The Suicide Squad.
Writer/director James Gunn was tasked with resurrecting a series that was at death’s door from the moment it started, with 2016’s Suicide Squad being deemed a failure.
When the news that Gunn would be helming the soft reboot was announced, it’s safe to say the response was mixed with some excited to see whether the Guardians Of The Galaxy director could turn the series around, whilst others believed it couldn’t be saved.
Well, Gunn stepped up to the challenge and he has more than delivered with The Suicide Squad being one of the boldest, ballsiest and most bonkers superhero films ever made. He has not only rescued the franchise, but he has also taken it in a new direction that is both audacious and exciting.
Speaking at a press conference Zavvi attended, Gunn explained that he knew when he took on the project he had to be daring with it in order to give audiences a reason to watch the film.
He said: “I felt this huge responsibility to do the best I could do, and because I was being given so much freedom, I also felt the responsibility to take risks. These big movies, if they don’t continue to change and try new things, audiences won’t be coming back to cinemas anymore to see them.”
The risks Gunn took included significantly upping the body count, ensuring plenty of blood can be splattered, and unleashing a giant starfish monster on the squad – Starro The Conqueror has entered the building ladies and gentlemen.
He also assembled a cast that is a mix of a handful of returning characters (Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Joel Kinnamen as Rick Flag, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang) and a bunch of supervillains new to the series who are ready to be at the mercy of both Gunn’s script and Waller’s charge (Viola Davis reprising the role).
Newbies to the squad include Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchoir), King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), The Thinker (Peter Capaldi) and so, so much more providing plenty of heads for the chopping block.
It’s clear Gunn had a lot of fun deciding who to bring into the ensemble cast of characters explaining that he had a different motivation for each one: “I loved some characters such as Harley, so I knew I wanted her to be in it. I love rats, so Ratcatcher was an easy one.
“I wrote Bloodsport for Idris as I wanted him to be in it, so that was about finding a character who is so obscure we can build our own cinematic creation.
“Then Polka-Dot Man, I just googled ‘who is the dumbest supervillain of all-time’ and his name always came up near the top.” Even Dastmalchian, a self-confessed comic book nerd, had no idea who Polka-Dot Man was when Gunn rang him about the role, proving that the director really was opting for the most absurd characters in DC Comics’ history.
Choosing such out-there characters from the comics to feature meant that both Gunn and the cast had the freedom to really make them their own.
This is something Melchoir relished, enjoying the creativity liberty she had with her character Ratcatcher 2: “I didn’t have to stick to an existing character from the comics. We could figure out this supervillain who has just started out. She doesn’t know how to fight or kill, nor does she want to do either.
“I felt like that was a good starting point, approaching it as her first mission.”
Cena and Elba felt similarly with their respective characters Peacemaker and Bloodsport, choosing to have a lot of fun with the rivalry Gunn had featured in the script, or as Elba says, “a dick swinging competition”.
Although that relationship had been fleshed out in the screenplay, the duo took it to a new level as Cena describes: “Each character has been given a distinctive personality, except Bloodsport and Peacemaker, they have the same skillset.
“That fuels this one-upmanship as they both want those alpha positions, whereas the others in the squad don’t need to compete as much as they have definable characteristics. It does make for some good comedic moments.”
It wasn’t just the newbies to the series who were given creative freedom with their characters though. Kinnamen for example reprises his role of Rick Flag from the 2016 original movie, but as he told the press conference, the Flag we see in this film feels “almost like a new character.”
He elaborated: “It was a really good script and I was happy to take on this new version of Flag that James wrote. I got to spread some comedic wings and although it was the second time I had played the character, it felt like I was doing it for the first time. We decided we weren’t going to be bound by what we did in the first film, and just let this be a new experience which was so much fun.”
The Flag we see here is looser and more charismatic than 2016’s version, and when Kinnamen does spread those comedic wings, he really does fly.
Another returning character is of course the one and only Robbie as the infamous Harley Quinn, fresh from her break-up with the Joker in the fabulous Birds Of Prey. Unlike with Flag, the Harley in this movie is the same one we saw in Suicide Squad, only more-bad ass, more chaotic and, most importantly, stronger.
Robbie enjoyed flexing some of Harley’s muscles, both physical and emotional, that hadn’t been used before: “I loved getting to play Harley who was in the mindset of being single and ready to mingle, and also to play Harley in mission mode. Anytime she’s in a new group there’s always something fun and different to do as she reacts differently depending upon who her teammates are.”
One of the most rewarding parts of the movie is seeing the squad’s dynamic evolve, as the likes of Peacemaker and Bloodsport bicker, whilst Ratcatcher 2 and King Shark form a bond. Harley meanwhile of course is always unpredictable, but her continuing friendship with Flag brings a sweetness to the group.
Surprisingly ‘sweet’ is a good way of describing the film as in typical Gunn fashion, although it is a blood soaked gore fest filled with outlandish humour and more f-bombs than even The Thick Of It’s Malcolm Tucker can utter, The Suicide Squad has plenty of heart, so much so I did admittedly tear up at several points.
Gunn firmly understands how to bring intimacy and emotion to the story amidst all the chaos, something Dastmalchian said the director also brought to the set himself: “We were in this jungle and I had to deliver one of the hardest scenes for my character, when he explains why he is who he is.
“I was standing there and everyone else was off-camera. A lot of times when actors are off-camera they just wander off, but all of them were giving me everything I could ask for.
“I was still a bit lost though and didn’t know how to get there, so James came down, put his arm around me and gave me some direction. To me that summed up that whole movie. It was all about the intimate relationships between these people, and this director coming down just to breathe with me and connect.”
As Dastmalchian says, The Suicide Squad is all about emotional connection, and whilst the aim of course is to form that with audiences, it’s pretty clear the actors felt that too as when asked whether they would return for a sequel, each one responded with a resounding ‘yes’.
At time of writing a sequel hasn’t been announced yet, but once audiences see just what Gunn has done with the film, we imagine it won’t be long until one is given the go ahead.
The Suicide Squad is out in UK cinemas from 30th July. Shop our exclusive The Suicide Squad collection here.