Anyone who has already watched James Gunn’s recently released The Suicide Squad has met its rag-tag team of supervillains-turned-heroes and the big bad i.e., Starro they go up against towards the end of the third half of the film. But the truth is Starro wasn’t the first choice to be the villain in The Suicide Squad, it was Superman!
Recently writer-director James Gunn sat down for a chat with Script Apart and talked at length about the making of The Suicide Squad, including the fact that “there was a time when I thought The Suicide Squad should fight Superman.” But when the time came to actually put that thought into action, Gunn decided to drop the idea for two seasons, the primary being his unwillingness on letting go of the opportunity to bring one of his favorite DC villains from the pages of the comics to the silver screen.
“He’s a character I love from the comics. I think he’s a perfect comic book character because he’s absolutely ludicrous but also very scary in his own way. What he does is scary,” James Gunn explained. “He used to scare the crap out of me when I was a child, putting those facehuggers on Superman and Batman. So I thought he was one of the major, major DC villains that was probably never going to be put into another movie. And if they did, it’d have been a ‘black cloud’ version of Starro. Not a giant walking starfish, a kaiju that’s bright pink and cerulean blue, this ridiculously big, bright bad guy.”
The second reason that made Gunn reconsider his plans of choosing The Suicide Squad villain is the fact that currently, the status of Superman in the DCEU is dicey at best. It is not yet known whether another standalone Superman film will be made now that Zack Snyder is no longer a part of the DC cinematic universe. There have also been plenty of rumors about Henry Cavill’s association with Warner Bros. coming to an end, especially now that a reboot of the Superman story is being developed.
“At the time, there were a lot of questions like, ‘Who is Superman in the DCEU? Is this movie outside the DCEU?’, and I just didn’t want to deal with it all that much,” Gunn revealed.
The name of Superman is indeed invoked in the first half of the film when we learn that Idris Elba’s Bloodsport landed in prison for shooting the caped superhero with a kryptonite bullet. Now, given Clark Kent’s rather well-known weakness in the presence of Kryptonite, this incident can be easily explained as something that happened before the events of The Suicide Squad, maybe even before we met the latest version of Kal-El in 2013. But as he just wanted to “tell a good story,” the only thing that made sense was to drop the whole idea of The Suicide Squad villain being Superman as he didn’t want to be the one to define the superhero’s status in the DCEU.