When Warner Bros. approached filmmaker James Gunn about taking on a DC film in the wake of his firing from Disney and Marvel, the studio offered to let him make anything he wanted, but there was one project they really had in mind. The studio initially tried to sell Gunn on a Superman project before the Suicide Squad and other possible characters and teams came into the conversation, but it was The Suicide Squad that ultimately won out. According to Gunn the reason for choosing The Suicide Squad was that the characters and their stories captured his imagination and gave him the most creatively fulfilling story.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Gunn explained that early on the Suicide Squad team captured his imagination. He also noted that The Suicide Squad allowed him to tell the stories of characters that might not otherwise get their story told while there will always be someone to tell Superman's story.
"When they first came to me, it was really about what DC project I wanted to do. The first thing they brought up was Superman, and the second thing they brought up was Suicide Squad," Gunn said. "So those were the first two projects, and then I had another project that they never brought up, never thought of, a couple of other ones that we talked about a little bit. People have talked about Krypto [the Superdog], they know that I brought that up at one point. So there's different characters that came up that interested me, and I just took some time and started sketching out what the different stories could be with these different characters. It was obvious from the very beginning that Suicide Squad just captured my imagination. It was the most fun. People are like, 'Why didn't you do Superman or Justice League?' I found this to be the most creatively fulfilling story. I know someone's gonna do a Superman movie again. I don't know that Polka-Dot Man's gonna get his story told if I don't tell it."
But even in choosing the Suicide Squad Gunn did still entertain the idea of working with Superman as a character. The filmmaker told German outlet Filmstarts that one of his early ideas for The Suicide Squad was a "Suicide Squad vs. Superman" film.
"When I started writing The Suicide Squad, one idea was that they would fight Superman," Gunn said. "The Suicide Squad has to catch Superman for some reason. This was all, just a vague idea. It's gotten out of hand or is being controlled by someone. And then this group of lousy super villains has to face the most powerful hero in the world."
Now that The Suicide Squad is here, it seems like Gunn's decision to take on the "group of lousy super villains" even without Superman was the right one. Fans and critics alike have had a lot of praise for the film and there's already more to look forward to. A Peacemaker television series spinning out of the film is headed to HBO Max with John Cena reprising his role and Gunn writing and directing.
The Suicide Squad is now playing in theatres and is available to watch on HBO Max.