‘Suicide Squad 2’: Why Is Will Smith’s Deadshot Missing?

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (sometimes called Suicide Squad 2) released in theaters and on HBO Max to rave reviews. While its predecessor got largely mixed reception, one thing everyone praised and was hoping to see in the sequel was the return of Will Smith’s Deadshot.

That’s why some were surprised and disappointed to learn he wouldn’t be showing up. The reason why this is turned out to be more complicated than an actor just not returning for the role, so let’s examine what actually went on behind the scenes.

Will Smith smiling in front of a black background
Will Smith | Axelle Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

Will Smith played Deadshot in the first ‘Suicide Squad’

Both Suicide Squad and The Suicide Squad follow a secret government program known as Task Force X, nicknamed the Suicide Squad. They send incarcerated supervillains on dangerous black ops missions in exchange for shortening their prison sentences if they come back alive.

Over the films and its several decades of comic book lore, some of the biggest names in evil have been a part of the team, a notable mainstay being Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot. In the first film, Deadshot was played by actor Will Smith. Unlike many of Smith’s leading man roles, Deadshot is a bad person through and through, acting as a contract killer for high-profile targets with a reputation for never missing his shot.

The only exception to his hardened criminal nature is his daughter, who he refuses to expose to his life of crime. Once in prison, he assumes somewhat of a leadership position on the Squad, begrudgingly coming to care for his teammates, in particular government agent Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and fellow villain Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie).

Smith wanted to return for the sequel but didn’t have the time

Unlike what some rumors would have you believe, the main reason Smith didn’t reprise his role like some of his costars was that he just didn’t have the time for it. Distractify helps set the record straight, explaining that Smith was already working on King Richard, the biopic focused on the Williams sisters and their father, during the filming of The Suicide Squad.

Not only does Smith star as the titular “King” Richard Williams, but he also produced the movie. Looking at it like that, it makes a lot of sense why he’d pick one project over the other regardless of how much he seemed to enjoy being Deadshot. It’s also a bit ironic considering how closely this mimics his choice to star in Suicide Squad over reprising his old role in Independence Day: Resurgence back in 2016.

Deadshot was originally going to be in the film

Even without Smith, Deadshot was originally planned to be in The Suicide Squad. However, due to scheduling conflicts, he had to be rewritten for another character to be played by none other than Idris Elba.

In fairness, if you’re going to replace an actor as good as Will Smith, Elba’s probably the best choice you could make. It was still unfortunate, though, especially as rumors of an Elba Deadshot recasting started to make the rounds.

Thankfully, recasting was never on the table. While Deadshot’s role in the script remained, Elba’s character had already been rewritten to become the soldier of fortune Robert DuBois AKA Bloodsport. The character’s backstory was drastically changed from the comics because of these early plans.

This is somewhat evident as, even though Bloodsport himself is fairly different in personality from Deadshot, his role in the story mirrors Deadshot’s to a T. He’s a leader to the rest of the Squad, his expertise is in marksmanship, he has a strained relationship with his daughter, and he’s friendly with both Flag and Harley. He even got sent to jail after a run-in with one of DC’s A-list heroes (Superman for Bloodsport, Batman for Deadshot).

Despite all of this, audiences really enjoyed Bloodsport and Elba’s portrayal of the character. Part of the reason the character was rewritten like this was to make room for Smith to return as Deadshot if he felt like it in future movies. Hopefully, this means we’ll get to see both of them on the team together in a potential third movie.

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