UPDATE: Variety’s Justin Kroll has since revealed the additional detail that Warner Bros. and DC are currently deciding whether or not they want to recast Deadshot with a new actor or simply have a different DC character fill his planned role in The Suicide Squad’s story.
One item I forgot to add to story, sources say execs are now deciding whether they will recast the role or replace Deadshot with a different character from the DC universe to join the team in sequel
— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) February 28, 2019
Despite earning good reviews for his performance as Deadshot in Suicide Squad, Will Smith is reportedly not returning for James Gunn’s 2021 sequel. It’s no secret that the DCEU film franchise has had its ups and downs since its debut film, 2013’s Man of Steel. While Zack Snyder’s more brooding take on Kal-El proved somewhat divisive, the film overall was received pretty well at the time. Unfortunately, then came 2016’s one-two punch of Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.
While both films have their fans, neither BVS or Suicide Squad managed to impress most DC devotees, and also tanked with critics. It’s worth mentioning though that BVS and Suicide Squad both did great financially, earning $873 and $746 million worldwide, respectively. After Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman wowed the world in 2017, and Snyder’s Justice League proved a dud – at least the cut released in theaters anyway – it seemingly became clear to DC that a change was needed, and it seemed to arrive in the form of 2018’s Aquaman.
Aquaman swam to a worldwide gross of over $1 billion, and its lighter tone and more fun atmosphere set the stage for this year’s highly anticipated Shazam!. Rejuvenated, Warner Bros. and DC recently added several projects to its official release slate, including Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman 1984, Matt Reeves’ The Batman, and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Unfortunately, Variety reports that one of the most popular aspects of Ayer’s Suicide Squad, Will Smith’s Deadshot, won’t be coming back for round two.
While no casting has officially been announced for Gunn’s The Suicide Squad – which will technically be a sequel to Ayer’s film, but is expected to also try and reinvent the property – Variety’s sources say that Warner Bros. and DC always planned on asking both Smith and co-star Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) to return. Smith’s departure is reportedly tied to scheduling conflicts, which isn’t hard to believe when one considers how much he works. The split is said to be an amicable one.
As for Robbie, one assumes she’s likely to work something out to return, as she’s already set to star in Birds of Prey for the studios, so is clearly maintaining a positive working relationship. Losing Smith’s Deadshot is a clear blow to The Suicide Squad though, as his and Harley’s presence could’ve served to placate fans of the first film that aren’t pleased about the change in creative direction. One wonders if Warner Bros., DC, and Gunn will dare to try and recast Deadshot, or will instead partner Harley up with an entirely new cast of antiheroes.