Warner Bros. Made James Gunn’s Exact Pitch for The Suicide Squad: “It’s Exactly His Movie”

The Suicide Squad is from the “horribly beautiful mind” of writer-director James Gunn — and producer Peter Safran says Gunn’s “unfiltered vision” on-screen answers “what it’s like to be inside the head” of the Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker. According to Safran, the producer behind Aquaman and Shazam!, nothing ever changed from Gunn’s “completely bonkers bananas crazy” pitch to Warner Bros. after Marvel parent company Disney fired Gunn as director of Guardians Vol. 3. For his first film in the DC Extended Universe, out August 6, Gunn envisioned a gritty and gory 1960s war caper film with a 150-foot tall alien starfish as the big bad targeted by a new Task Force X.

“James Gunn talked about a bunch of different DC properties, thought about them, went off, noodled around, and he called me back, and he said: ‘I’ve got an idea for Suicide Squad, but this is the only way I want to make it. It’s a 1960s war caper film and this is what I want it to be,’ and pitches me the story,” Safran told the Deadline podcast about bringing Gunn into the DC universe. “I said, ‘It’s completely bonkers bananas crazy, but perfect — and perfect for you.’ We pitched it to [Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman] Toby Emmerich and [DC Films President] Walter Hamada and [DC Films Sr. VP] Chantal [Nong] at DC, and what he pitched to them that day — September 23, 2018 — is exactly the movie that we made and delivered. It did not change one iota.”

That includes the live-action debut of the mind-controlling supervillain Starro, a world-conquering alien creature best known for uniting the first iteration of the Justice League in the DC comic books.

“Literally, to the characters involved, who died, who the adversaries were, nothing changed. James knew exactly the movie that he wanted to make, and that is the movie that he delivered,” Safran said. “I think that’s why people have responded so beautifully to it, both critics and audiences alike. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be inside the head of James Gunn, this movie answers that question for you because it is the unfiltered vision of what he wanted to do. It’s exactly his movie.”

Starro “was always there” from the first pitch, Safran continued. “We sat in Toby’s office and [Gunn] said, ‘Oh, and a 150-foot pink starfish is going to be battling, at some point, the Suicide Squad.’ Nobody batted an eye because, with a guy like James Gunn, you trust his instincts. He’s a fanboy first and foremost, he’s incredibly knowledgeable about the DC Comics and, obviously, the Marvel Comics too. He knows what he as an audience member would want to see and he delivers.”

Early audiences and critics would agree Gunn delivers: The Suicide Squad currently has a 96% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Sylvester Stallone, and Viola Davis, The Suicide Squad releases in theaters and on HBO Max on August 6.

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