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The Suicide Squad: Idris Elba set for new character other than Deadshot

The reports are true: Idris Elba will be a part of James Gunn's The Suicide Squad. However, he won't play the character you once thought he would. 

Variety broke the news on Friday, April 5 that Elba isn't portraying Deadshot in The Suicide Squad as previously believed. Instead, the actor is moving to a new character whose identity has yet to be revealed. Played by Will Smith in David Ayer's 2016 Suicide Squad, Deadshot has officially been removed from The Suicide Squad as a result of this decision.

Elba's name first cropped up in connection with The Suicide Squad back in February, when it was reported that he had met with Warner Bros. and Gunn just a few days after Smith dropped out of the forthcoming reboot film due to scheduling conflicts. At that time, Elba was in talks to replace Smith as Deadshot. The actor reportedly "agreed on the spot" to join The Suicide Squad, though no definitive decision regarding the character Elba would portray in the film was made during the initial meeting.

Studio Warner Bros. declined to comment on the matter, but sources with knowledge of the situation indicated to Variety that all parties involved felt it was the best choice to remove Elba from the role of Deadshot and have him bring to life another DC Comics character. The minds behind The Suicide Squad are said to have wanted to avoid disrespecting Smith and apparently felt that recasting the character he originated would be something of a slap in the face. Discussions about the situation carried on for a few weeks before the team came to this ultimate decision, which everyone felt was "the right move."

Since Gunn and co. are sunsetting Deadshot for The Suicide Squad, it leaves room for Smith to circle back to the franchise somewhere down the line, should he want to do so. Smith hasn't given any indication one way or another whether he would be down to reprise his role as Deadshot in a future movie, but considering he exited The Suicide Squad because his demanding schedule unfortunately wouldn't allow him to say yes to the project and not because he clashed with Gunn or anyone else on the film's team suggests that he still holds the franchise in high regard. Variety does note that the possibility of Smith returning is pretty low as of right now, but it shouldn't be ruled out entirely. 

Described as a "rethinking of the property" and as taking a "new approach" to the growing Suicide Squad film series, The Suicide Squad isn't a standard sequel to Ayer's film from 2016. In actuality, it's a soft reboot: it will take the same basic premise as Suicide Squad (a group of criminals are selected to form a team tasked with carrying out government-issued missions) but will feature a mostly fresh roster of baddies. While it was once believed that Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn would get nixed, flicked off the Suicide Squad team for the Gunn-directed reimagining, it's now assumed that the Mistress of Mischief will indeed return. Guaranteed to be back for The Suicide Squad are Viola Davis, who reprises her role as Amanda Waller, and Jai Courtney, who steps back into the role of Captain Boomerang. 

Predicting who Elba might play is a tricky thing to do, as there are so many different characters who have, at various points in time, been a part of the Suicide Squad. Our best guess is that he could portray Bronze Tiger, also known as Ben Turner, a master martial artist who joined the Suicide Squad in the mid-1980s, when Amanda Waller recruited him to be the team's new leader. He wound up serving as the second-in-command to Rick Flag — a character who, surprisingly, isn't expected to be back for The Suicide Squad. If Elba does end up being Bronze Tiger in the new film, he would be a pretty big part of the narrative — much like Smith's Deadshot was in the 2016 movie. 

The Suicide Squad is set to being production this fall, so expect to hear more details on Elba's role as well as additional casting announcements in the months before cameras start rolling. The flick is slated for release on August 6, 2021.