'The Suicide Squad' Director James Gunn Went To Extreme Lengths To Keep Character Deaths A Secret On Set

How do you keep a secret about a superhero movie these days? It's nigh impossible in the age of social media and set photos, though big superhero blockbuster machines like Marvel Studios have the strategy down to a tee — distributing different scripts, shooting different endings, and even making it difficult for their actors to know which movie they're actually in.

So it's no surprise that The Suicide Squad director James Gunn took a few tricks from the Marvel bag to keep the lid on the secrets for his upcoming DC film for Warner Bros. Namely, the secrets over who will (inevitably) die in the movie. After all, it's in the title.

James Gunn has been recently fielding a bunch of questions on Twitter from fans over The Suicide Squad, and he answered one question that asked, "I realize you're unlikely to see this, but I've wondered if you filmed alternate scenes for the deaths of any characters to keep leakers, or even cast, from guessing the real direction of the narrative."

Gunn replied, "No but to keep [Idris Elba's] character from getting out we called him Vigilante in the script & on his chair back. We kept it so secret that, we were a week away from finishing shooting & the production designer, Beth Mickle, said, 'wait, he's not Vigilante?'"

He added, "And to make it weirder, DC's character Vigilante is one of the leads of my #Peacemaker show."

Peacemaker is the HBO Max series set to star John Cena as his character from The Suicide Squad — in a story that will presumably take place before the events of Gunn's upcoming superhero movie, since Gunn is so effective at keeping The Suicide Squad secrets that we're still not sure if Cena survives. Because as we saw with David Ayer's 2016 Suicide Squad, no one is safe — though we can probably expect DC heavy-hitters like Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn to make it out alive. Personally, I'm gunning for Polka Dot Man's (David Dastmalchian) survival, but it's all up in the air because Gunn has good at keeping a lid on potential The Suicide Squad character deaths. Even a few of the cast members didn't know everything until they saw the final cut of the movie because Gunn borrowed a page from Marvel and gave them incomplete scripts. Gunn said:

"Oh also some of the cast just recently saw the end of the film for the first time (or haven't seen it yet) because most of them only got the script up until the point their character dies."

I'm just going to pray for Polka Dot Man.

What You Need to Know About The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad stars Margot Robbie, Idris ElbaJohn CenaJoel KinnamanJai CourtneyPeter CapaldiDavid DastmalchianDaniela MelchiorMichael RookerAlice BragaPete DavidsonJoaquín CosioJuan Diego BottoStorm ReidNathan FillionSteve AgeeSean GunnMayling NgFlula BorgJennifer Holland, and Tinashe Kajese, with Sylvester Stallone, and Viola Davis.

Here's the synopsis:

Welcome to hell—a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst Super-Villains are kept and where they will do anything to get out—even join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X. Today's do-or-die assignment? Assemble a collection of cons, including Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and everyone's favorite psycho, Harley Quinn. Then arm them heavily and drop them (literally) on the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Trekking through a jungle teeming with militant adversaries and guerrilla forces at every turn, the Squad is on a search-and-destroy mission with only Colonel Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave...and Amanda Waller's government techies in their ears, tracking their every movement. And as always, one wrong move and they're dead (whether at the hands of their opponents, a teammate, or Waller herself). If anyone's laying down bets, the smart money is against them—all of them.

The Suicide Squad arrives in theaters and on HBO Max August 6, 2021.