Before signing on to unleash his "horribly beautiful" vision for the DC universe with The Suicide Squad, studio Warner Bros. wanted writer-director James Gunn to revamp another franchise: Superman. The Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker previously revealed DC Films approached him with an offer to make anything he wanted — including "some sort of Superman movie," but not specifically a Man of Steel 2 — after he was fired from Disney-Marvel's Guardians Vol. 3. Gunn has since been reinstated and will soon return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe after The Suicide Squad, but there was a time Warners tried to sell Gunn on Superman when pitching a DC movie to the fan-favorite filmmaker:
"First they came to me and said 'Superman, Superman, Superman,' and I said 'I don't know.' Then they said 'what about Suicide Squad,' and I said 'no,'" Gunn told Newsweek about following up director David Ayer's 2016 blockbuster. "Then I thought, well, let me think about it because I loved the Suicide Squad from the comics. I said, 'What do I have to keep from the last movie?'"
He continued: "They said, 'You don't have to keep anything. You can keep the whole team, you can keep none of the team. We love Margot [Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn], we'd love Margot to be involved again, but you don't need to keep her. You can start from scratch if you want.'"
Gunn decided to keep Robbie's Harley Quinn — and Suicide Squad players Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) — but set out to make a war caper standalone film that's not a sequel or a reboot. When Warners said he could make his exact pitch without interference, Gunn signed on to make his vision inspired by the comic book works of John Ostrander (who makes a cameo appearance in the movie).
"It was at that point that I was able to make my own choices which were, you know, keep some of the great casting that David [Ayer] had done with Viola and Jai and Margot and Joel, and be able to take those and sort of mix them in with what my vision for The Suicide Squad would be," Gunn said.
That vision includes the DC Extended Universe debuts of Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and Peacemaker (John Cena) — who will headline Gunn's Squad spin-off series coming soon to HBO Max — and oddball characters like Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), and the man-eating King Shark (voice of Sylvester Stallone).
Warner Bros. has at least two separate Superman projects in the works: a reported period piece standalone from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and producer J.J. Abrams, and the Michael B. Jordan-starring and produced "Black Superman" limited series for HBO Max. Man of Steel and Batman v Superman star Henry Cavill, who last played the character in Justice League, is not expected to appear in either project.
The Suicide Squad releases in theaters and on HBO Max on August 6.