There goes my cautious optimism. In December of last year the Suicide Squad main cast was officially announced. Roughly one month later Tom Hardy dropped out due to ‘scheduling conflicts’ with Fox’s The Revenant. The cracks already beginning to show. Man of Steel was basically a lot of aimless wandering around followed by the destruction of Kansas and Metropolis and I’ll be surprised if anything forming a coherent and enjoyable film comes out of the Justice League in all but name, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. DC and Warner Bros. need Suicide Squad to be the film that captures audiences and they can’t afford any missteps.
I realise this sounds like the conspiracists who claim that a secret organisations rule the world because of minor markings and typos on documents and papers, but I do believe there is cause for concern. Tom Hardy is the kind of actor who can really do anything and do it well. Want him to step up into the main role? He can do that. Or he can take the back seat and support the main cast. He can be charming and likable. He can be your villain and terrorise your protagonist. Tom Hardy just has that versatility. And that’s really what any actor playing Rick Flag Jr. needed to bring to the table.
Even if Warner Bros. aren’t following the Suicide Squad story from its comic book origins, the character of Rick Flag Jr. was still likely to be the linchpin, holding the team together. The point of the film, or at least an interesting hook, is that these guys are villains. They don’t play nice and don’t work well with others. Someone or something is going to have to unite them, and it would really fall on Rick Flag to do that. The Joker doesn’t care about anyone else unless it furthers his own plans, often even being borderline abusive towards Harley Quinn. Rick Flag, with his military experience, is a natural squad leader and thus, vital to the team.
That’s why it is important for the actor who plays Rick Flag to be capable in a range of roles. With a lot of big names such as The Joker and Deadshot, its important for Flag to become a background character when needed. In the same vein, the actor also needs to stand up against the more larger than life characters and command the scene he’s in. If the actor can’t fulfil those roles, audiences will question why the rest of the squad are following him or just getting in the way. DC could have recast any other character but Tom Hardy as Rick Flag was the perfect choice.
It is unfair to blame DC though. After all, they had no choice. They had to recast the role due to Tom Hardy’s scheduling conflicts. And I completely understand, Hardy’s choice. The Revenants sounds like it could be a great film. Directed by recent Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture Academy Award winner, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Hardy will star alongside Leondardo DiCaprio in the film adaptation of the book of the same name about a fur trapper who is betrayed by his fellow hunters and seeks revenge. That sounds like a brilliant combination of talent and creativity. At the moment I have so much more confidence in Iñárritu and 20th Century Fox to produce an intense 19th Century thriller than I do in the ability of DC and Warner Bros. to create a watchable superhero ensemble action film. This is the kind of thing DC Comics should be good at and they’re not. And that’s kind of sad.
Admittedly, I am dubious of the scheduling conflicts reason. The Revenants will be released in December later this year, while Suicide Squad won’t see the light of day until August 2016. That’s eight months difference. While I’m aware that Warner Bros. won’t be filming right up until August, the same is true for The Revenants. There’s post production after shooting that Tom Hardy doesn’t need to be present for and then some promotional appearances. How likely is it that Warner Bros. couldn’t work around a promotional event that Hardy was involved in? This throws up a red flag to me that there were other reasons for Hardy’s departure. Maybe he no longer believed in the project or perhaps he had problems with the director, producers or other cast members. Will Smith might have pulled a Fresh Prince of Bel Air and had Hardy removed like Janet Hubert-Whitten. I can only speculate but I do find the departure suspicious.
Replacing Hardy is Joel Kinnaman. Kinnaman is best known for AMC’s The Killing and his role as the titular Robocop in the 2014 reboot. Despite Robocop’s less than favourable reviews and the struggles of The Killing after the initial two seasons, Kinnaman’s performances have generally been applauded. So it’s was a good choice but whether he can handle in the role in the way that I know Hardy could remains to be seen.
In other DC news, Suicide Squad cast members Will Smith and Margot Robbie recently starred in Focus, a dark romantic comedy and con-men and grifters. Again, the film hasn’t been a smash but the actors performances stood out. And I’m also coming around to Jai Courtney, mostly thanks to the recent Terminator: Genisys trailers, which have, amazingly, got me sold on that film. Of course that has everything to do with Emilia Clarke and the interesting time travel twist of the original story, and nothing to do with Jai Courtney. On top of that, Joe Manganiello is rumoured to be playing Deathstroke. At this point the cast size is reasonable so I’d worry about Warner Bros. adding too many extra characters.
More than a year out from Suicide Squad and I’m already feeling like this is falling apart. Like it is barely held together with duct tape and chewing gum. I really want DC to make a good superhero film. Not a good film with asterisks and disclaimers, just a simple, enjoyable movie about superheroes. Marvel are producing them with factory like efficiency these days, so the question has to be asked, why can’t DC even make one?