Wednesday night, JoBlo.com had the incredible opportunity to get an early look at James Gunn’s THE SUICIDE SQUAD. This highly anticipated feature was something that I was already excited to witness, and thankfully all expectations were met and then some. That said, there is currently an embargo as the film is still a few weeks away from its August 6th release date. That said, keep a lookout for our upcoming review of the latest from the world of DC Comics. However, last night we didn’t just get to witness the film. Afterward, we were joined in the theatre courtesy of Zoom by Mr. Gunn himself.
The director took a few moments away from his busy schedule to chat about all things The Suicide Squad with the small group gathered to watch the film. The subjects covered during the chat included his reasons why he enjoys working on films with an ensemble cast, the task of making King Shark and Starro look amazing, and which characters in the new film did he connect with the most. It’s always a real pleasure chatting with Mr. Gunn, and even in a group situation such as this, he brings his energy and excitement to the conversation. Here is part of our conversation with James Gunn, and his quick take on all things The Suicide Squad – more from this conversation coming soon! Wait until you see this one, folks!
On keeping The Suicide Squad filled with surprises, and are they always planned, or do they come as the production moves forward.
“It’s a little bit of both, but it’s a lot. I do think that good plots have twists in them and sometimes in movies, like a really serious drama, those twists are there and they should be surprising, but at the same time, they’re not as noticeable because it’s a more mellow situation. And in this movie, it really was about just making the biggest and most entertaining film I possibly could and really taking people on a journey that changes from moment to moment and does surprise people with who lives, who dies, and going off on Harley’s journey for a while and taking it there and trying to take risks with a spectacle film, which is not the usual path. It’s usually a more usual structure of the three-act structure and it has a total three-act structure, but trying to make more risky choices within all of that.”
Regarding the on-screen violence, as well as the surprising purity that the film has.
“One character says something at the end of the movie that I really believe in. I came into this movie, for instance, with Polka-Dot Man who, when you look up online, he’s one of the dumbest supervillains of all time, the man is always on that list. And the idea is that in a world where superheroes are real and the supervillains are real, that a guy would call himself Polka-Dot Man, and go around with polka dots on his costume seems ludicrous. But to be able to take that character – who’s a lot more like I am than Batman or Captain America – and to give him a story that’s incredibly dark in terms of how he became Polka-Dot Man, it’s a horrible story, and it was giving meaning to something that is incredibly stupid and we’re all incredibly stupid in our own ways. And to be able to sort of embrace the humanity of our own darkness and our own silliness.
To me, at the end of the day, everything I’ve ever done is about characters, trying to connect and have a difficult time doing it because I have a difficult time and these characters have a harder time than anybody else I’ve ever written because they not only have these horrible backstories for the most part, but they’ve also made horrible choices in their lives. And to be able to find something good in all of that is the sort of journey that excites me the most. And a lot of it is, is about that. It’s about, you know, Harley’s journey to find something good. It’s about Bloodsport’s journey to find something good in themselves. And so that’s really where that comes from.”
About exploring American Imperialism in The Suicide Squad.
“I think that we’re dealing with, that’s like part of the story is in a way innately about an American institution, which is doing these black ops. You know, black ops with characters and people, human beings that they consider disposable that are too dangerous for regular troops to go so that they choose people that they think no one will notice if they’re murdered. No one will care if they’re murdered. And I don’t, I think it would be hard to tackle that without also tackling faces behind that and with them then going and doing something in a country that, you know, part of what they’re doing is good in a way and then part of it is awful. And also understanding everybody’s perspective and all of that. I understand Peacemaker’s perspective. I understand Amanda Waller’s perspective. I understand Ratcatcher’s perspective and Bloodsport, and Harley’s perspective is just doing her own thing. It’s really about seeing all those things in action. And I think it kind of is, you know, intrinsic to telling that type of story, that it would come up naturally.”
The appeal of working with an ensemble cast.
“I naturally am drawn to an ensemble cast. I’ve made a lot of movies at this point and almost all of them have been ensembles other than my movie, Super, which is really about one character’s journey. But all of the other films I’ve made going back to even my first movie, Tromeo and Juliet, and my second movie, The Specials, they’re ensembles. I’m just drawn to them. And yet I don’t ever write a character into a script that doesn’t have a reason to be there. If I’m writing an ensemble and there are seven people in that ensemble, and all of a sudden, I go, there’s one guy over here who’s not really a part of the story. He’s just there because he’s a famous superhero or he’s there because of whatever reason I’m going to write that character out.
It’s important to me that every character does have a journey within the movie. And sometimes those journeys are very small and sometimes they’re very large, but I’ll just never choose a character who doesn’t have a part of the story and doesn’t add to it. And it doesn’t change the story. And in this character, I mean obviously, there’s some characters that kind of don’t have as big of a role in this film as others, but of the main characters who we spend the movie on, each of them is intimately involved with the story. Each of them changed from Ratcatcher to The Thinker to King Shark. They’re all a part of that story. So part of it is just that I’m naturally drawn to it. And I love the idea. You know, it was fun for me to get these DC comics characters with a totally varied group who all kind of seem to be from their own genre of film, and putting it together in one movie was a blast.”