James Gunn says ‘The Suicide Squad’ was a jokey title, shares original name for DC film

(L-r) JOEL KINNAMAN as Colonel Rich Flag,  ALICE BRAGA as Sol Soria, DANIELA MELCHIOR as Ratcatcher 2, KING SHARK, IDRIS ELBA as Bloodsport and JOHN CENA as Peacemaker (Warner Bros.)
The Suicide Squad (from left): Joel Kinnaman as Col. Rick Flag, Alice Braga as Sol Soria, Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2, Sylvester Stallone as King Shark, Idris Elba as Bloodsport and John Cena as Peacemaker (Photo: Warner Bros.)

By Kevin Polowy

Hollywood has a sequel problem. Not specifically the rash of franchise follow-ups in the pipeline, but rather the less-than-creative titles we must endure. There was 2009’s Fast & Furious after 2001’s The Fast and the Furious. There’s Halloween (2018), Shaft (2019) and the upcoming Scream (2022), which are all sequels — not remakes — with identical monikers as the 1978, 2000, and 1996 versions, respectively.

In July we’ll get writer-director James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, the DC Comics ensemble that continues the misadventures from 2016’s Suicide Squad. The only difference in titles is that The in front.

We aired our grievances directly with Gunn when we confronted him at the press junket for the film over the weekend.

Read more: James Gunn gets candid about Guardians firing

“I did it as a joke, man,” he told Yahoo, laughing. “I didn’t really do it as a joke but I didn’t know what to call the movie.”

The Suicide Squad (Warner Bros)
The Suicide Squad (Warner Bros)

“I didn’t want it to be Suicide Squad: Dawn of the Mischief Red, whatever,” he added, mocking the tortured subtitles so often appended to action movie sequels (see: G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Resident Evil: Retribution, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Terminator: Dark Fate and DC’s own Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, among many others).

“I didn’t want it to be something that was this long awkward title.”

Gunn explained that he had a different title in mind at first for the film, which tracks Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena) and a gaggle of other Task Force X antiheroes to South America to take down a Nazi-powered lab.

“To be completely honest, it was called Dogs of War for a while,” the music-minded filmmaker revealed, potentially referencing the Pink Floyd song title of the same name (though the term’s origin dates back to a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar).

Read more: James Gunn might return to DC after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3

“But for my first draft, when I gave it to the studio I just [thought], ‘Ah screw it,’ I just put The Suicide Squad on there. I thought it was kind of funny. And they were like, ‘Yeah, we love this. This works. Let’s do this.’ ‘OK!’”

The Suicide Squad arrives in UK cinemas on 30 July. Watch the trailer.