Suicide Squad 2 (or maybe the Suicide Squad reboot, it’s not entirely clear how the new movie will connect to the old one) may have James Gunn working as its writer and director, but it will need at least one new star, according to Variety. They report that Will Smith — who appeared in the first Suicide Squad as the assassin Deadshot — will not return for Gunn’s film:

Sources tell Variety that Will Smith, who played Deadshot in the original, is not expected to return for the studio’s upcoming sequel. Sources say scheduling was the ultimate factor and that the decision was made on amicable terms between both sides with no hard feelings ... insiders say the studio has always wanted its biggest stars like Smith and Margot Robbie, who played Harley Quinn in the first pic, to return.

In the original Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, Smith never quite meshed with the rest of the ensemble (including Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who is already working on her own spinoff film also featuring the Birds of Prey). Still, he was undeniably the biggest star the franchise had. (It’s other big star, at least in a supporting capacity, was Ben Affleck, and he’s done at Warner Bros and DC as well.)

If you’re of the mindset that you want Gunn to take a totally fresh approach to the Suicide Squad concept, this is good news; he won’t be beholden to Smith or his version of Deadshot. From a box office perspective, this makes things trickier for a franchise that doesn’t have a ton of brand awareness outside of the first movie (which a lot of people didn’t particularly care for). But Gunn himself might be a fairly significant draw, particularly if what he produces does have the look and feel of his Guardians movies.

Suicide Squad 2 opens in theaters on August 6, 2021.

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