When the first casting announcements for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad started making the rounds, it was reported that Idris Elba was set to replace Will Smith as Deadshot. While that didn’t turn out to be the case after the confusion was cleared up and the Luther star was confirmed as Bloodsport instead, you can see watching the movie that it wouldn’t have been much of a stretch for Elba to play Floyd Lawton as opposed to Robert DuBois.
Given his skill set, personality and status as erstwhile leader of Task Force X, you could easily imagine The Suicide Squad turning out in exactly the same way were Smith to have returned as Deadshot. That’s not a slight on Elba, who finally gets a blockbuster leading role worthy of his talents, but the two comic book antiheroes are very similar in a number of ways.
Presumably, the call was made to go for Bloodsport in the event that Smith could be convinced to return to the DCEU in the future, after scheduling conflicts ruled him out of The Suicide Squad and any plans for a Deadshot solo outing were quietly shuffled off into the abyss of development hell.
In a new interview, Elba was asked if he was originally cast as a straight swap for the former Fresh Prince, and he claims that Deadshot was never on the table.
“Those rumors would be natural because Will said he wasn’t joining the second movie, so it was quite natural for audiences or fans to think that I would be taking over the Deadshot character because the Deadshot character lived in the other movie. I’m really satisfied that James didn’t want to do that, I didn’t want to do that. Deadshot is a great character and Will slays it, so I was really keen the audience and fans kept that rumor going.”
The Suicide Squad may have under-performed at the box office, but both DC Films and Gunn are keen for the filmmaker to stick around for a while longer, so maybe we’ll see both Smith and Elba in a prospective third adventure for the rogue team of criminals.