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The Suicide Squad Character James Gunn Was Most Excited About

Second chances are rare in life, and even rarer at the box office, at least without enough time passing to make a not-so-successful film's inevitable reboot a reality. So, it's a pretty big deal that DC's band of misfit anti-heroes, the Suicide Squad, are stepping back up to the cinematic plate so hard on the heels of 2016's financially successful but generally maligned, David Ayer-directed effort. Then again, it helps when what seems like the perfect director for a property drops right into your lap, as appeared to happen when James Gunn became available after finding himself temporarily fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 due to some social media shenanigans. Gunn's skewed sensibility seemed like just the right fit for the team, and kicked anticipation for the flick, titled The Suicide Squad, into overdrive.

It's safe to say that excitement has only gotten more intense in the wake of The Suicide Squad's panel for DC FanDome, the "immersive virtual fan experience" DC and Warner Bros. are running to connect fans to their upcoming shows and films in a world in which the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes gathering en masse unsafe. Gunn offered up a bunch of exciting new tidbits, including a short behind-the-scenes feature that gets into the war-movie-meets-off-kilter-comedy tone viewers can expect from the film. Perhaps most intriguing, however, was his run-down of the characters making up the titular team, and who would be playing them. It's a colorful collection of old and new faces, and there's one name, in particular, that got Gunn amped up for the project.

The Suicide Squad's righteous roll call

We'd previously learned about bits and pieces of The Suicide Squad's roster, but the new video offers up the entire team, while also giving the world a first look at much of the cast in costume. The names fresh to the franchise are some of the most fan-friendly out there, ranging from Peter Capaldi as Thinker to Michael Rooker as Savant to Idris Elba as Bloodsport to John Cena as Peacemaker (perfectly cast a character the wrestler-turned-actor describes in the behind-the-scenes featurette as "a douchey Captain America"). Frequent James Gunn collaborators — and total nerdbait — Nathan Fillion and Sean Gunn will also make appearances, as TDK and Weasel, respectively.

Perhaps more interesting, however, were the actors and characters we'll see returning from 2016's Suicide Squad. Leading off the roll call video is Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, the bigwig behind the Squad. Joel Kinnaman will also be back as Rick Flagg, and hopefully not saddled with the kind of on-the-nose dialogue with which he had to deal the first time around. Jai Courtney's crazy mug will once again grace the screen as Captain Boomerang. Finally, there's the character that has Gunn the most excited, and the only member of the Squad to helm her own film so far: Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.

Harley Quinn and the fantabulous motivation of James Gunn

The former Dr. Harleen Quinzel has been a fan favorite for a long time, now, but what was it that most moved the filmmaker when it came to the character? According to Gunn, it was Harley's unpredictability and the strength of her characterization that got him going as a writer. "She takes you to places where you don't know you're gonna go," he said during the panel. "A lot of it was me writing for Harley, and a lot of it was Harley doing the writing for me!"

Robbie's performance as Harley Quinn was definitely one of the highlights of the uneven Suicide Squad, and while the film that put her front and center, Birds of Prey and the Fantabuolous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (retitled Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey post-release), didn't exactly burn up the box office in its pre-pandemic 2020 run, it certainly didn't dim audience enthusiasm for either Gotham's Maid of Mischief or the actor portraying her. We'll find out if Gunn's excitement translates to big-screen magic for Harley and the rest of the Suicide Squad's colorful roster when The Suicide Squad arrives on August 6, 2021.