When it was revealed that James Gunn's The Suicide Squad wouldn't be a reboot or a sequel to David Ayer's 2016 Suicide Squad, there were those who were a bit curious about the situation. After all, the popular team had just been featured in a film and if it wasn't a reboot or a sequel exactly, why revisit things? The answer, according to producer Peter Safran, is filmmaker James Gunn. Safran explained to press on the film's set back in 2019 that revisiting Suicide Squad was driven by Gunn's availability, specifically for what the filmmaker could bring to "a disparate group of outsiders on a mission" like the Squad.
"Well, I don't think it was what brought us back to Suicide Squad. I think it was driven in large part by James Gunn's sudden availability that started July of last year," Safran said. "And I always And I always felt like it's an incredible property and when I talked to James about it, his initial reaction was, 'I'm not sure. Let me think about it.' Thought about it a little bit and, mind you, it was just like, listen, who's better to bring together a disparate group of outsiders on a mission? James Gunn. And that was my pitch to him and his ultimate reaction was, 'Ask Warner Brothers if I have to be bound by anything that has occurred before, any characters or anything off-base, or can I just start from scratch.' And the reaction was, 'We want Suicide Squad from the mind of James Gunn.' That's what it is. So not a sequel. It's not a reboot. It's just James Gunn's The Suicide Squad."
He went on to explain that that was the idea that drove things and it all moved very rapidly from there, with Gunn having "absolute clarity" about the movie he wanted to make.
"That really what drove it, and he got inspired and had an initial idea and pitch and we came in and pitched it Toby and Walter September 27th of 2018, and we started shooting September 23rd of 2019," Safran continued. "And that's from pitch to starting to shoot, it was less than a year because he had absolute clarity of vision of the movie that he wanted to make. The idea for him was, and I'm sure he'll tell you this, himself, it's a 1970s war movie, war caper, melded with the characters and comedy that James Gunn brings to everything that he does. So that was really the inspiration behind it."
He added, "I think everybody loves Suicide Squad as a property, in particular, the John Ostrander run and we all like to think, what would those characters that Ostrander created be doing today if he were writing it? And this is what that movie is."
Safran also went on to talk a bit about what the characters in the film are doing, ultimately describing The Suicide Squad as being a film like The Dirty Dozen or Guardians of the Galaxy.
"It's a good question. Obviously, you can see many of the characters that are intrinsically involved in the movie, and it is a classic Amanda Waller putting together in this case, a couple of groups and sending them off on a mission," Safran said. "I think the part that we can really talk to you about is... It involves Jotunheim, and they're sent to basically destroy Jotunheim. There's been a military coup on the island of Corto Maltese and the Herrera family who've ruled as dictators for 100 years have been overthrown by this military coup. And Amanda Waller wants to make sure that Jotunheim, which is a scientific research prison, that it is destroyed before the military coup realizes what's inside it, before the leaders of the coup realize what's inside it. And that's really what the story of the movie is. So it's a classic war mission movie. It's Dirty Dozen. It's Guardians of Galaxy."
The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max on August 6.