Preparations for the follow up to Suicide Squad (now officially known as The Suicide Squad) are really starting to get underway, but now the film has lost one of its potential stars in the form of Will Smith, and we know why the franchise's Deadshot won't be back for the latest installment. It appears as though simple scheduling conflicts have led the studio and Smith to part ways.
While official casting hadn't yet been made public for The Suicide Squad (not to mention which characters from the first film would even be returning), according to Variety, Warner Bros. was, indeed, looking to bring back the biggest stars from the original, including Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. There's no word yet on whether or not Robbie will definitely return or in what capacity, but now it looks like we can no longer count on the chemistry between her nutty / dangerous ex-psychiatrist and Smith's sharp-shooter.
Apparently, the studio was working on securing the biggest actors from Suicide Squad so they would return for the sequel, while working out other casting decisions along the way as pre-production on the potential blockbuster progressed. It also sounds like Will Smith was eager to return, but when the schedule couldn't be worked out, he and Warner Bros. parted ways without any hard feelings on either side. The Suicide Squad is looking to hit an August 6, 2021 release date, so if Smith knew he couldn't fit the film into his schedule at this point in the process, it makes sense that both sides would step away so that allowances could be made for the amount of time necessary to rework the script so that his character wouldn't be needed.
Of course, there's a slight possibility that we could see a new Deadshot in The Suicide Squad. But, while a potentially meta moment where Harley Quinn or other returning characters comment on how much the years have changed Floyd Lawton could work wonders for the humor level of the burgeoning franchise, Will Smith was still holding out hope for a Deadshot solo film just a few months ago, so it's likely they won't be too hasty in taking the character from him.
The Suicide Squad has had a path to production that's been rather fraught with difficulty in the years since the original came out in 2016. The film made a fairly impressive $746.8 million worldwide against a production budget of $175 million, and even won an Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, but (and this is a pretty big but...) the movie was not very well-received by critics or many of the hopeful fans who headed to theaters to see it. While Warner Bros. was deciding what to do with the financial success / critical mess it had on its hands, director David Ayer, who later said that he would have handled some aspects of the movie differently but didn't regret his work on the film, moved on to work on Gotham City Sirens, meaning he wasn't free to help develop the sequel.
The planned sequel then went through several reported options for a director and writers, settling for a time on Gavin O'Connor to helm the picture and David Bar Katz and Todd Stashwick to co-write it, but that all changed when James Gunn got fired from Disney in the summer of 2018 and was no longer set to steer the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 ship. Warner Bros. scooped him up, and he's now writing and directing The Suicide Squad. This major change has given a lot of people hope that the new film will be structured better than the one that came before it, but it's also brought about some questions as to what direction fans can expect it to take.
About a month ago, when the official title and release date for The Suicide Squad was released, it was also revealed that instead of a straight sequel to the first movie, this is now set to be more of a "relaunch." And, with that news came rumors that James Gunn and Warner Bros. were looking to keep all the critical stink of the original away from the...relaunch and were eager to start over completely with no storylines continuing or characters returning for the new film. Of course, this potential news was shocking, because while most fans would agree that they can take or leave many aspects of Suicide Squad, most people were firm on Margot Robbie and Will Smith being the best parts of the film.
It was especially shocking for Harley Quinn, considering the fact that several new movies have been proposed as starring vehicles for the characters since her debut in Suicide Squad. Margot Robbie is currently filming Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), as mentioned earlier Gotham City Sirens is still being worked on and there was previously talk of a Harley and Joker movie that may or may not come to pass. So, with Warner Bros. clearly eager to keep Robbie's version of Harley on screens for as long as she's willing to do it, the decision to keep her out of The Suicide Squad altogether seemed odd. Luckily, those rumors were shot down not long after they began to take root, but, unfortunately, it now looks like when she does return she won't have Will Smith's Deadshot to pal around with.
Right now, we don't know what project could be getting in the way of Will Smith reprising his role as Deadshot in The Suicide Squad, but clearly it's important enough to him to stay away (at least temporarily) from a role he's said he enjoys playing and wants to take on again. Smith wrapped his role as Genie in the live action Aladdin last year, but is currently in pre-production on another sequel, and it's one that's been 16 years in the making: Bad Boys For Lif3, which is obviously the latest in the Bad Boys franchise. So, it's possible that this is the movie that he'll be filming instead of The Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad is still coming together, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend and we'll let you in on more details about the upcoming movie as they become available.