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After Margot Robbie read the script for The Suicide Squad, she was grateful to know James Gunn would be at the helm. Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn for the third time, has produced projects such as DC’s Birds of Prey and the Oscar-winning Promising Young Woman, so she knows how challenging it is to turn an ambitious script into a film.
“If I read the script and didn’t know James Gunn was going to direct it, it would have been a straight-up ‘no,'” Robbie told The Hollywood Reporter Monday at The Suicide Squad premiere in Westwood. “I was like, ‘No one could pull this off.’ It’s so specific in its brand of comedy and violence. But it came out of his imagination. He knew exactly what to do with it.”
Robbie’s faith in Gunn has paid off. Ahead of The Suicide Squad‘s Aug. 6 release in theaters and on HBO Max, Gunn is getting the best reviews of his career for the Warner Bros. film. The Suicide Squad launches Gunn into the DC universe after he became one of Hollywood’s biggest filmmakers thanks to Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy. In addition to Squad, he has the HBO Max spinoff Peacemaker coming up starring John Cena. Next he films Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for Marvel in London.
Though Gunn is returning to the Marvel fold, DC Films president Walter Hamada confirmed to THR there will be more from the filmmaker and DC in the future.
“Gunn is always welcome back, whatever he wants to do. He really has a vision and he’s a great partner with us. Whenever he wants to come back, we’re ready for him,” said Hamada, who added, “He’ll be back. We have more stuff planned.”
Those plans remain shrouded in mystery, though Gunn has tantalized fans with a suggestion that another Squad spinoff could be in the works.
Charles Roven, the producer who has worked on DC films such as The Dark Knight, Batman v. Superman and now The Suicide Squad, noted that the film came in under budget and had no days of additional photography — a rarity in blockbuster filmmaking.
“He storyboards every single shot in the movie,” Roven said of Gunn’s meticulous method. “Not just the action sequences.”
Gunn’s vision made such an impression on Cena that the actor said he agreed to do Peacemaker before even hearing the full pitch of the eight-episode series Gunn wrote and directed episodes of.
“This is what happens when you leave a brilliant man alone with his thoughts,” said Cena — dressed in full costume — of Gunn’s scripts. “I didn’t even hear what it was [before saying yes], and when I heard it was Peacemaker, I was extra excited.”
Gunn is known for writing roles specifically for frequent collaborators, and that included Micahel Rooker, known as Yondu in the Guardians movies and who played the long-haired Savant in this film.
“He usually says he wrote it for me — and that’s his ploy,” Rooker says with a laugh. “That’s the way he gets me to want to do it for less money. It works.”
Ahead of the Squad screening, Gunn spoke for about ten minutes and thanked many of his collaborators by name, asking them to stand when he called on them. Gunn saved one special name for last, comic book creator John Ostrander, whose Suicide Squad comics of the 1980s heavily influenced Gunn’s work.
“This movie could exist without any of us here. There is one person it wouldn’t exist without … That is John Ostrander,” Gunn said to massive applause as the legendary writer stood up and waved to the crowd.
Concluded the filmmaker: “He is the man that deserves all the accolades.”
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