As it turns out, the cancellation of Warner Bros. live-action Akira project led to Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi's role in the upcoming The Suicide Squad film. A live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira has been one of the longest in development anime and manga adaptation projects, and through the years has been in a flux of various stages of that development as the project has had a number of different creators attached to it. It started picking up the most steam when Taika Waititi was attached to direct, and even slated itself a 2021 release date.
Then before production on the live-action Akira film took place, Warner Bros. not only put that production on hold but completely removed it from their release schedule. This was notably far before the complications of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (and Waititi already moving onto new projects), so its current status is unknown. It seems that this production halting actually freed some time up for Waititi before he started production on Thor: Love and Thunder. Time he was able to use for a role in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad.
When asked by Indiewire about how Waititi's role came about (a role that has yet to be publicly revealed through promotional materials before the film's full release), Gunn responded, "I called him!" Gunn explained that he initially had a much larger role in mind for Waititi before Akira's schedule came into play, "I actually thought about Taika for another role and I offered it to him and he said, I don't know…,'" Gunn began.
Elaborating further, Gunn explained that Waititi was hesitant due to the then upcoming start of production for the live-action Akira, "He was working on Akira at the time, and he said, 'I had to give you my answer in like two weeks,' he totally wanted to do it. It was one of the other superheroes. And he said that he wanted to do it and then Akira got greenlit and it was happening." But while The Suicide Squad was already in pre-production when Akira was halted, Gunn was able to work Waititi into another role.
"Then, all of a sudden, it fell apart and [Taika] wrote me and he said, 'Oh, [the] fucking movie fell apart. Is that role is still available?,'" Gunn said. "And I said, "No, but let me get you in something else.'" As for Waititi's originally offered role, Gunn did not reveal what it was but did tease that it was one of the characters in the beginning. So while Akira didn't happen, at least Waititi still made his way into The Suicide Squad as Gunn wanted in the first place!
The Suicide Squad will be releasing in theaters and on HBO Max on August 6th, and you can check out ComicBook.com's review of the film here. Are you excited to see who Taika Waititi is playing in the new movie? Are you still hoping to see his take on a live-action Akira someday? Let us know all of your thoughts about it in the comments! You can even reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!