Idris Elba is no longer replacing Will Smith as Deadshot in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, and will portray a new character instead. The DC Extended Universe has undergone some dramatic changes in the aftermath of Justice League‘s box office disappointment in 2017, with previously announced films like The Flash and Green Lantern Corps having – apparently – fallen by the wayside for now. However, in spite of the shifting tides, the followup to David Ayer’s commercial hit Suicide Squad is still chugging along, albeit now under the supervision of the filmmaker behind the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
While DCEU producer Peter Safran recently described The Suicide Squad as a “total reboot” of the franchise, it’s become clear that isn’t really true. Case in point: Margot Robbie is set to reprise her Suicide Squad role as Harley Quinn in Gunn’s movie, and Jai Courtney has now confirmed that he’ll be back as Captain Boomerang too. Meanwhile, Will Smith was originally slated to reprise his role as Deadshot in Gunn’s movie, but has since stepped away from the project due to a scheduling conflict.
Related: Why The Suicide Squad is NOT a Reboot
Although Elba was originally said to be replacing Smith as Deadshot in The Suicide Squad, it turns out that won’t be the case. Variety has since learned that the actor will play a new character instead, in a move that’s partly meant to leave the door open for Smith to play Deadshot again in the future (either in Suicide Squad 3 or maybe even the previously-discussed Deadshot solo film).
All things considered, this sounds like a smart move. Elba is such a big name these days that it only makes sense for him to play a DC character all his own, as opposed to “filling in” for Smith. Beyond that, Variety says the team behind Gunn’s movie were concerned that replacing Smith this way was disrespectful, seeing as he stepped away from the film because of scheduling and not over creative differences. As for who Elba will play in the DCEU… well, that’s open to speculation for the time being. Gunn’s Suicide Squad screenplay reportedly includes new additions to the team like King Shark, Peacemaker, Polka-Dot Man, and Ratcatcher, though it’s possible the plan is for Elba to play someone else entirely. Again, he’s an in-demand actor for good reason, and will surely have an important – and meaty – role in the movie (whatever it ends up being).
Reading between the lines, this also feels like further confirmation that The Suicide Squad is at most a soft reboot of the property. Presumably, Warner Bros. is trying to distance Gunn’s film from Ayer’s critically derided Suicide Squad movie by calling it a reboot, as opposed to a sequel with characters both new and returning. Gunn, on the other hand, seems intent on maintaining a sense of continuity between Ayer’s DCEU entry and The Suicide Squad, and even has Viola Davis coming back as Amanda Waller. Considering the cast and characters had little to do with the problems with Ayer’s movie, their return is more than welcome here.
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