The DCEU's early plans for Suicide Squad 2, prior to James Gunn coming on board, were canceled due to the Harley Quinn-led Birds of Prey.
An early plan for the upcoming Suicide Squad 2 was canceled due to the DCEU’s Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). James Gunn’s soft sequel/reboot of David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad film will see a host of new faces in Task Force X. Although characters like Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) will return, new characters such as John Cena’s Peacemaker, Idris Alba’s Bloodsport, and Steve Agee’s King Shark will join the likely rated R film, and help face off against the rumored villain, Starro. However, there were many versions of the film before Gunn came on board, such as the one led by Gavin O’Connor.
O’Connor joined the production of Suicide Squad 2 during its development and spent close to a whole year working on the film before leaving the project. One of the big rumors surrounding his version of Suicide Squad 2 was that it would feature Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam as the villain. The rumors suggested the story involved Task Force X looking for a weapon of mass destruction, unaware that it was Black Adam. The new issue of Empire Magazine on Gunn’s The Suicide Squad confirmed that Black Adam was indeed the villain for O’Connor’s version of the film, but also that another DCEU film scrapped the film’s plans.
According to DanielRPK, Empire also reveals another reason that O'Conner's version was scrapped is because it was too similar to another film involving Harley Quinn, Birds of Prey. According to the tweet discussing Empire’s special on The Suicide Squad, O’Connor’s storyline also involved “the main group saving a young girl (a well known DC character) from the villains.”
Although it would have been interesting to see what “well known DC character” would have featured in O’Connor’s version of the film, if the stories were quite similar, the change of plans may have been a good thing. Birds of Prey sees Quinn and the rest of the group protecting Cassandra Cain, and if another young girl was to be protected, in another DC film that Harley Quinn was a big part of, there may have been some criticism of the content lacking originality. Although Birds of Prey didn’t meet box office expectations, it was quite a big project considering it was the first Harley Quinn-led film post-Suicide Squad. In regards to Black Adam, it may have worked out better for Johnson’s anti-villain, too, as now he gets his own film as an introduction into the DCEU.
It’s interesting to see the creative evolution the film has taken to reach Gunn’s version, which is described as a “1970’s war movie.” Also, despite the lack of storyline details, expectations are rightfully high due to the director’s track record with Guardians of the Galaxy, and it shows as HBO Max already has a spinoff series focused on Cena’s Peacemaker, which starts shooting in January and will see Gunn write every episode and direct several. Although fans would have certainly been curious to see how O’Connor’s Suicide Squad 2 would have materialized, the excitement for Gunn’s version undoubtedly continues to grow heading towards its August 6 release.