It looks like James Gunn could be entering an entirely new galaxy.
Warner Bros. has confirmed a report by the Wrap that Gunn will write and possibly direct the next installment in its Suicide Squad series, which began with the moneymaking but critically panned 2016 title film.
The reported union between Gunn and WB/DC Entertainment seems to be a confirmation that Gunn’s firing from Marvel and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is final, despite his directing of two surprise Guardians hits and the cast coming to his defense online. Gunn was fired after the resurfacing of tweets that included jokes about rape and pedophilia.
Gunn would come to WB/DC as a big-time talent acquisition. DC Entertainment has yet to catch up to the decade-long success of Marvel Studios, with only “Wonder Woman” as a certified hit in its Justice League era.
With “Justice League’s” critical failure, and “Wonder Woman” standing out in part because it wasn’t weighed down by strong ties to DC’s eventual superhero team-up, Gunn probably won’t have to worry about connecting the Suicide Squad to any other future DC movies. Instead, he will probably be leaned on to flesh out returning (and possibly new) characters with a deeper story, a better villain and stronger dialogue.
DC’s Suicide Squad has many parallels to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Both comprise characters that, before the films, were known to dedicated comic book fans but lacked the visibility of superhero big guns like Superman, Batman and Captain America. If Gunn can make it work twice with a heavily armed raccoon and a tree that says only one thing, DC probably thinks he can repeat that magic with the likes of Deadshot, Killer Croc and Katana.
Perhaps most intriguing would be what Gunn could do with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who is not only the standout character from the Suicide Squad but also one of the most popular characters in comics. Robbie will soon star in a stand-alone Harley Quinn film, “Birds of Prey,” so there’s still debate as to how big a role (if any) she’ll have in a Suicide Squad film, although it would seem pointless not to try to include her.
Both “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Suicide Squad” leaned heavily on pop hits, perhaps something that attracted WB/DC to Gunn, since he excelled in making music another character in his films during his time with Marvel Studios.
Gunn’s take on the Suicide Squad is reported to be more of a remix than a hard sequel, and given a less-than-stellar-track record with critics, WB/DC will gladly take anything but more of the same.