Now that James Gunn is back behind the wheel of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and, to a lesser extent, back on social media, the filmmaker took to his Instagram story to offer fans a small hint at what The Suicide Squad might be about. The answer? Unsurprisingly, the fan-favorite John Ostrander run, which was reportedly a major influence on the previous Suicide Squad movie before being rumored as the inspiration for this one recently. Ostrander wrote the definitive take on the modern Suicide Squad, along with collaborators like Kim Yale, Karl Kesel, Luke McDonnell, and Tom Mandrake. It was during those issues that Barbara Gordon became Oracle, the team developed its reputation for killing and replacing characters frequently, and some C- and D-list supervillains were elevated to fan-favorite status.
Ostrander wrote Suicide Squad for nearly 70 issues in the late '80s and early '90s, in a celebrated run that has only partially been collected. Ostrander's run is available in its entirety on ComiXology. In 2007, he returned to the property with an 8-issue miniseries that featured many of the characters named in the just-announced cast list for the feature film. He penned a Suicide Squad: War Crimes one-shot that was released around the same time as the David Ayer 2016 movie. Even before the Ayer movie, the Suicide Squad has been major players in DC's publishing and multimedia plan in recent years, with a number of characters from Ostrander's run appearing in movies like Batman: Assault on Arkham and TV shows like Arrow. In the first episode of The Flash where Green Arrow and The Flash teamed up, they were hunting Captain Boomerang, who showed up again at the end of season five of Arrow.
The Gunn movie will feature a few consistent characters -- reportedly Captain Boomerang, Amanda Waller, and possibly one or two others -- but a largely reconfigured lineup, according to pervasive rumors. The decision to change up the lineup may feel a little bit odd to fans of the movies, but it has always been a part of the Suicide Squad story in the comics. "When I was doing the Squad on a regular basis, we used to mix up the team fairly well," Ostrander told ComicBook.com in 2016, "if only because we were killing some of the people off, but by mixing it up, you get a slightly different team, and to my mind, it keeps it fresh."
"I really liked the film. Not perfect by a long shot, but a really good time in the movie theater," Ostrander wrote at the time of the Ayer film's release. "And for me a lot of it was just amazing. The look, the detail, the feel of the film is not something I've seen in superhero movies before. Chief for me were the performances, starting with Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. All the other characters in the Squad, both the comic and the movie, were created by others. In the comic especially I would re-define and expand on them but they were established characters. Amanda Waller was my creation and Viola Davis embodied her to perfection."
Despite being panned by critics and fans alike, David Ayer's version of Suicide Squad (2016) made a whopping $746m worldwide against a reported budget of $175m. The film ended up being pretty light on the visual effects, especially when compared to Aquaman or Gunn's Guardians films. Should the studio embrace the filmmaker's high-concept out-of-this-world storytelling abilities, chances are The Suicide Squad will rake in plenty more than it's predecessor — especially when high-VFX movies perform exceptionally well overseas.
The Suicide Squad is set for release on August 6, 2021. Other upcoming DC films include Shazam! on April 5, Joker on October 4th, Birds of Prey on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, and The Batman on June 25, 2021.
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