You could hardly accuse the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies of being safe – the films that took Marvel fully cosmic, with sentient flora and fauna among its core cast. But with The Suicide Squad, writer-director James Gunn is fully unleashed, crossing over his wild comic book visuals with the darker-edged likes of Super and Slither for a colourful, violent, unexpected summer blockbuster. That meant not only drawing together a line-up of bizarre characters from the annals of the DC Comics vault – including Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, the Sylvester Stallone-voiced King Shark, Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2 and David Dastmalchian’s Polka Dot Man, rubbing shoulders with Margot Robbie’s established fan-favourite Harley Quinn – but doing whatever he pleased with them.
“On The Suicide Squad I could just go anywhere I wanted to go,” Gunn tells Empire in the upcoming new issue, available to pre-order now with five collectible The Suicide Squad covers. “I mean, Marvel really lets me have a lot of freedom, but I’m still making a PG-13 movie. So I just loved the whole no-holds-barred approach of being able to make this enormous movie – with no rules!” From choosing which elements remain from 2016’s Suicide Squad (Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller returns, as do Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang and Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag) to hand-picking giant alien starfish Starro as the villain, Gunn was given free reign. “He’s said this was the most fun he’s ever had making a movie, and that joy bled into the entire production,” says producer Peter Safran. “It was a joyful experience, because it’s really an unedited version of James Gunn.”
In true Gunn style, the visuals are a clash of influences – his purposefully mismatched Squad seeing dorky comics costumes sit alongside sleeker, more practical get-ups. “I liked the idea of these disparate aesthetics, as if you’re bringing in each of these characters from a different movie or TV show,” he explains. “So Peacemaker is from a 1970s TV show; Bloodsport is more of a modern, scary, grimdark character; Ratcatcher 2 is from some Saw horror film; Javelin looks ridiculous; Savant is kind of cool, but also kind of Def Leppard in the wrong ways; and Harley is Harley! And they’re thrown together in this sort of natural, real world that we present with Corto Maltese, which is very grounded.”
Get a full look at Gunn’s wild vision for The Suicide Squad in the new issue of Empire, on sale Thursday 8 July – also featuring Gunn’s seven key lessons from a decade and a half of filmmaking, interviews with his regular collaborators, an exclusive Gunn-picked playlist, the very first look at Peacemaker, and much more. The Suicide Squad comes to UK cinemas from 30 July.