Idris Elba in Talks to Replace Will Smith in 'Suicide Squad' Sequel (Exclusive)

Idris Elba _ - Getty - H 2018
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The move follows the exit of Smith, who led the ensemble of the 2016 movie with Margot Robbie and played assassin anti-hero Deadshot.

Idris Elba is in talks to replace Will Smith in the Suicide Squad sequel being put together by filmmaker James Gunn and Warner Bros., sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The move follows last week's exit of Smith, who, along with Margot Robbie, led the ensemble of the 2016 movie and played assassin anti-hero Deadshot.

Sources say that Elba met with Gunn on Friday and it went so swimmingly that talks began with the studio in earnest. Elba was the first and only choice for Gunn and the studio. 

Warners is extremely high on The Suicide Squad and its script, written by Gunn — so much so that the pic is barrelling forward into the casting stage after Gunn quickly turned out several drafts. Before his boarding, the project ambled for a couple of years with a revolving door of writers and directors.

Gunn is said to be using mostly DC characters who did not appear in David Ayer's 2016 film, although several are expected to return, including Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Rick Flagg, originally played by Joel Kinnaman, say sources. Another source, however, says Flagg is no longer in the follow-up.

The Suicide Squad has an Aug. 6, 2021, release date.

Elba continues to be on a hot streak and is set to host NBC's Saturday Night Live this weekend. He plays a villain in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, which is slated to bow Aug. 2, and is coming off of filming Working Title and Universal’s adaptation of the Broadway mainstay Cats, in which he plays the feline Macavity.

Elba is repped by WME and Hertz Lichtenstein.