Idris Elba Didn’t Want to Replace Will Smith in ‘The Suicide Squad’

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad has been met with major acclaim since releasing in theaters and on HBO Max. Merging the grim and gritty subject matter with bright colors and laughs in a way the previous film just couldn’t manage, it was a breath of fresh air to the average moviegoer and a sigh of relief to fans of the comics. Part of this was due to the cast full of fresh faces, particularly Idris Elba. However, rumors circulated early on in development that he’d be replacing another actor as a character from the first film. Thankfully, this turned out to be untrue, with Elba and others on the project setting the record straight before and after the film was released.

‘The Suicide Squad’ is a fresh start despite being a sequel

Idris Elba
Idris Elba | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

The Suicide Squad is a sequel to the 2016 film Suicide Squad. Despite having nearly the same name and the same general premise (the government sending a group of supervillains on dangerous missions with the expectation they could die at any moment), the first film failed to impress most audiences due to its disjointed tone, scrambled plot, and poorly-defined characters. Even the movie’s director has disowned the film, blaming executive meddling and extensive reshoots and recuts he didn’t want for how it turned out while petitioning his own cut to be released.

By contrast, The Suicide Squad fixes virtually all of these problems, balancing its humor, action, and drama in a much more tightly-plotted story that follows characters with a lot more depth and vitality. Even returning characters like Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) got a bit more room to grow, and while Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) may not have as much screentime in this movie, he certainly leaves a bigger impression with the time he did have. Overall, it was just a better film, seemingly free of the behind-the-scenes tampering that saw the first one release in such a sorry state.

Elba was rumored to play Deadshot in the sequel but was cast as a new character

Like we mentioned before, Elba played one of the new characters that appeared in The Suicide Squad. His character is named Bloodsport, an incredibly capable assassin who ended up in jail after nearly killing one of the biggest superheroes on the block. He’s forced into leading the Suicide Squad in the hopes he can find a way to improve his relationship with his daughter, all the while forming a bond with the other members of the team, in particular Harley and Flag.

If you’ve seen the first film, this description probably sounds similar to the character of Deadshot, played by Will Smith. That’s not a coincidence, as the original plans for The Suicide Squad did involve Deadshot returning. Unfortunately, Smith couldn’t find the time to reprise due to his commitments on the movie King Richard filming at the same time.

Because of Smith not being featured on the cast list, some began to assume he was recast when Elba’s role wasn’t immediately named. As Elba himself explained, however, he never intended to do this, nor was it the plan. Both Slash Film and Screen Rant recap his statements on the matter, praising Deadshot as a great character and saying that Smith “slays it” in his performance. He was also glad that people kept circulating the rumor, as it made his character’s reveal that much more of a surprise (Bloodsport is a fairly minor Superman villain in the comics, so no one really expected him to headline this movie).

Deadshot may return in a future movie

Since it was a scheduling conflict that prevented Smith from reprising his role, it is possible he might choose to take another shot at the assassin in a future film. While a sequel hasn’t been officially greenlit, Gunn and various others have already said they have plans for future stories. With Deadshot being one of the better received characters from the first film and the early plans to include him in the second film, his inclusion in a third film doesn’t seem too unlikely if the stars align.

RELATED: ‘The Suicide Squad’ Director James Gunn Explains Why He Included Polka-Dot Man in the Film