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Is James Gunn’s ‘The Suicide Squad’ a sequel? Here’s exactly how it relates to the 2016 movie

Summary List PlacementIs "The Suicide Squad" a sequel to the 2016 movie? Is it a reboot? It's neither. It's a standalone film. It will feel like a spiritual sequel to the 2016 film in that it's respectful of the film before it, but it's not an outright, deliberate sequel to David Ayer's movie. Here's how a WB rep described Gunn's "The Suicide Squad" to us when we asked for clarification: "While there are references to the first movie, it isn't really fair to call it a follow up or a sequel because there really is no through line besides a few repeat characters." In...

Joel Kinnaman, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Peter Capaldi and Idris Elba in

Summary List Placement

Is “The Suicide Squad” a sequel to the 2016 movie? Is it a reboot?

It’s neither. It’s a standalone film.

It will feel like a spiritual sequel to the 2016 film in that it’s respectful of the film before it, but it’s not an outright, deliberate sequel to David Ayer’s movie.

Here’s how a WB rep described Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” to us when we asked for clarification: “While there are references to the first movie, it isn’t really fair to call it a follow up or a sequel because there really is no through line besides a few repeat characters.”

In an interview with The New York Times, director James Gunn said the choices for his film weren’t defined by what he saw in 2016’s “Suicide Squad.”

“I wanted it to be its own thing completely,” Gunn said. “When Warner Bros. said they wanted me to do this, I watched the first movie for the first time, and I called them back and said, what do I have to keep from this movie? And they said, nothing.”

In the film’s production notes, sent to Insider, the film is laid out as “today’s do-or-die assignment,” meaning, this is just another day in the life of the squad.

But I noticed it has some of the same characters from the 2016 movie. How does that work?

Yes, “The Suicide Squad” contains a few returning characters and actors who were also in the 2016 movie: Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and the Task Force X leader, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis).

Gunn told the NYT that Warner Bros. said he could use as many of the characters from the 2016 movie as he wanted in his film, saying, “They said, listen, we would love it if Margot’s in the movie but she doesn’t have to be. You could come up with all new characters or you could keep all the same characters.”

Any characters who were in the last film together don’t pretend that they don’t know each other if they had established relationships. “TSS” just doesn’t waste time recounting what happened in the previous film.

OK. So it’s not a sequel to 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” Is it a sequel to 2020’s “Birds of Prey”? Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was in that.

It’s not intended as a sequel to “Birds of Prey,” but if we had to place this film in a chronological timeline, it feels like it takes place after “BoP” because of Harley’s mindset.

The new film is respectful to the DCEU films that came before it and builds on the evolution of Harley’s character from the previously released titles.

I’m sorry. I’m still confused. Why are we getting this film instead of something else if the first “Suicide Squad” was so poorly received?

When WB hired Gunn to direct a DC movie, they first pitched him on a Superman movie. 

“They proposed that to me,” Gunn told the NYT. “Toby Emmerich [the Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman], he works out with my manager, and every morning he would say, ‘James Gunn, Superman. James Gunn, Superman.'”

But Gunn, a lover of comics, has a particular fondness for John Ostrander’s run of “The Suicide Squad” comics and felt more passionate about directing a film about that group.

“I really loved [the writer] John Ostrander’s take, which was taking these Z-grade villains and throwing them into black-ops situations where they were totally disposable and they wouldn’t come out alive,” he said.

Is the Joker in this film?

No.

Why?

For one thing, the Joker was never actually member of the Suicide Squad. It really never made sense for him to be in the 2016 film. It was like WB was trying to combine the idea of a Harley and Joker movie with a “Suicide Squad” film.

But more specifically, Gunn told the NYT he never considered bringing back Jared Leto’s Joker because “he wouldn’t be helpful” in the war situation the squad faces.

Is Will Smith in this film?

That’s also a negative.

Variety reported Smith left “The Suicide Squad” over scheduling conflicts. The trade initially indicated that Elba would take over Smith’s role as Deadshot.

According to Gunn’s recent interview with the NYT, he was always set on working with Idris Elba. In September, Gunn tweeted that he wrote the role of Bloodsport for Elba

So who IS in this movie?

Great question. A lot of talent. 

The new “Squad” includes: Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Peacemaker (John Cena), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), King Shark (Sylvester Stallone), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Savant (Michael Rooker), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchoir), Weasel (Sean Gunn), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), and T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion).

Why is it called “The Suicide Squad” when the last film was called “Suicide Squad”? That seems confusing.

Gunn shared with fans on social media that he pitched the title, “The Suicide Squad,” as a joke. Funny enough, WB executives liked it. It stuck.

“I brought it up kiddingly once and Warners and the producers liked it. There’s not much chance of changing it, but you never know,” Gunn said, according to Cinemablend.

While it may seem a bit confusing, it’s really the best way to describe the group. You could call them “Task Force X,” but that just doesn’t sound as good as “The Suicide Squad.”

Why should I invest my time in this? I’m afraid I’m going to be duped twice.

We get it. Being a DC fan has been tough the past decade, watching as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come into its own. You don’t want to invest your time in something that’s going to let you down.

While we can’t discuss all the reasons you should go see the film just yet, early reactions to the film, including this writer’s own, are extremely positive. 

Here’s what I had to say about the film: “#TheSuicideSquad is probably the wildest, wackiest, bloodiest comic book movie I’ve ever seen. Very clear they let James Gunn run wild and not hold back. Definitely gives Harley one of her best scenes period.”

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