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Suicide Squad 2: Idris Elba in talks to replace Will Smith

Idris Elba might be joining the Squad

An exclusive scoop published by The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday reports that Elba is in talks to star in Warner Bros.' forthcoming Suicide Squad sequel, written and directed by former Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 helmer James Gunn. 

Sources close to the outlet have indicated that the team behind the film, formally titled The Suicide Squad, are eyeing Elba to replace Will Smith, who recently dropped out of his role as the assassin Deadshot. 

Reportedly, Gunn took a meeting with Elba on Friday, March 1 (the day after news of Smith's Suicide Squad sequel exit went public) and it went off like gangbusters: THR notes that the conversation "went so swimmingly that talks began with the studio in earnest." Gunn and Warner Bros. executives are said to be gunning (no pun intended) hard for Elba to take over for Smith, and that Elba is the "first and only choice" for the filmmaker and the studio. 

Warner Bros. is apparently kicking production on The Suicide Squad into high gear, sending the project "barreling forward into the casting stage." Gunn was first reported to be writing the film back in October of 2018, a handful of months after The Walt Disney Company booted him from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 after a collection of controversial past tweets of his resurfaced online; since then, the filmmaker has handed in "several drafts" of the sequel, which will act as a "soft reboot" of David Ayer's Suicide Squad from 2016. Gunn's hard work scripting behind the scenes has evidently pushed the studio to get a move on, starting with sorting out the sequel's cast. 

Despite wanting to clear out the standing roster of villains and revamping the Suicide Squad crew with a collection of new-to-the-screen criminals, implementing characters who didn't play a part in the first Suicide Squad, Gunn is apparently ensuring a bit of crossover between the OG and the sequel. Characters like Deadshot, Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie), and Rick Flagg (played by Joel Kinnaman) are expected to return for the new movie, according to anonymous sources close to THR. In saying that, though, other sources claim that Flagg isn't involved in The Suicide Squad — and neither is Harley. It's a toss-up for now, until Warner Bros. comes forward with concrete details. 

Elba seems a nice fit to replace Smith as Deadshot, should that actually end up happening. (We can't say for certain, as an official casting announcement hasn't been made.) The suave British actor has plenty of experience within the comic book world, having played Heimdall in the Thor trilogy and in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War. He's also no stranger to the more sinister side of things, bringing to life the villainous Shere Khan in Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book. And action genre? Please, Elba practically lives there — just let his roles in Prometheus, Pacific Rim, Bastille, and more do the talking. 

One of the actor's most anticipated forthcoming projects should give fans another taste of the kind of spark Elba can bring to an antagonistic role: he portrays the central villain, an ex-MI6 agent and terrorist organization leader named Brixton Lore, in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, due out in theaters on August 2.

A "new approach" to the collection of ne'er-do-wells and a "rethinking of the property," The Suicide Squad is teed up for an August 6, 2021 launch.