Having been given almost complete freedom when he boarded the DCEU following his initial firing from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn would have no doubt been overflowing with creativity when he first put pen to paper and began hammering what would become The Suicide Squad into shape.
While the studio politely asked him to ensure that Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was part of the ensemble, the filmmaker was given more free rein than a lot of other DCEU talents to tell the story he wanted. One of those early ideas would have seen Task Force X pitted against none other than Superman, before it was ultimately dropped in favor of Corto Maltese and Starro.
The Man of Steel does get a mention when Amanda Waller reveals that Bloodsport put Kal-El in the hospital after shooting him with a Kryptonite bullet, but that’s as far as it went. In a new interview, Gunn explained why he didn’t follow through, and it unsurprisingly has a lot to do with the continued uncertainty surrounding Superman’s place in the DCEU.
“There was a time when I thought the Suicide Squad should fight Superman. At the time, there were a lot of questions like, ‘Who is Superman in the DCEU? Is this movie outside the DCEU?’. I just didn’t want to deal with it all that much. They’d have to catch Superman for some reason. It’s gotten out of hand or he’s being controlled by someone. And then this group of lousy supervillains has to face the most powerful hero in the world.”
Trying to work all of that out would have presented a potential legal, contractual and logistical nightmare for The Suicide Squad, looking at where Superman stands within the context of the franchise. J.J. Abrams and Ta-Nehisi Coates are rebooting the Big Blue Boy Scout and Michael B. Jordan is also developing a Val-Zod project for HBO Max, while fans are adamant that they want Henry Cavill to continue on as the DCEU’s canonical Clark Kent, so it was the smartest move to head in a completely different direction instead of wading through the minefield of office politics.