David Ayer was set to return as director for a Suicide Squad sequel by March 2016, but in December he chose to develop a Gotham City Sirens film instead. Warner Bros. considered several replacement directors before hiring Gavin O'Connor in September 2017. He left by October 2018, and Gunn was hired to write and direct the film after being temporarily fired by Disney and Marvel Studios as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023). He drew inspiration from war films and John Ostrander's 1980s Suicide Squad comics, and decided to explore new characters in a story separate from the first film's narrative, though some cast members do return from Suicide Squad. Filming began in Atlanta, Georgia, in September 2019, and concluded in Panama in February 2020.
The Suicide Squad was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on July 30, 2021, and in the United States on August 5, while streaming on HBO Max for a month starting the same day. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised Gunn's script, direction, and visual style. Many found the film a significant improvement over its predecessor. It underperformed at the box office, grossing $140 million worldwide against a budget of $185 million.Peacemaker, a spin-off television series starring Cena, is set to debut on HBO Max in January 2022.
Intelligence officer Amanda Waller assembles two Task Force X teams—colloquially known as the Suicide Squad—that comprise Belle Reve penitentiary inmates, who agree to carry out missions for Waller in exchange for lighter sentences. They are sent to the South American island nation of Corto Maltese after its government is overthrown by an anti-American regime, and are tasked with destroying the Nazi-era laboratory Jötunheim which holds a secretive experiment known as "Project Starfish". One team is led by Waller's subordinate Colonel Rick Flag, who are almost entirely wiped out by the Corto Maltese military upon landing. This distraction allows the other team to enter the country undetected. The second team is led by assassin Bloodsport, who accepted the mission in order to prevent his daughter from being incarcerated at Belle Reve, and consists of Peacemaker, King Shark, Polka-Dot Man, and Ratcatcher 2. They find Flag at a base camp for rebel soldiers and convince rebellion leader Sol Soria to assist them.
Harley Quinn survives the attack on the first team and is taken captive by the Corto Maltese government. She learns of the new regime's plans to use Project Starfish against other nations. In the Corto Maltese capital, the second team captures the Thinker, the lead scientist in charge of Project Starfish. Harley escapes and joins the others, who use the Thinker to break into Jötunheim. Most of the Squad rigs the facility with explosives as Flag and Ratcatcher 2 enter the underground laboratory with the Thinker. He reveals that Project Starfish is Starro the Conqueror, a giant alien starfish that creates smaller versions of itself to kill people and take control of their bodies. Starro was brought to Earth by the U.S. government, who have been secretly funding experiments on him in Corto Maltese for the past thirty years using thousands of the island's citizens as test subjects. An enraged Flag decides to leak a hard drive containing evidence of this revelation, but is killed by Peacemaker who is under secret orders from Waller to cover up the U.S.'s involvement in the experiments. Meanwhile, a skirmish between the Squad and the Corto Maltese military leads to Polka-Dot Man accidentally setting off the explosives prematurely. As the facility falls apart, Peacemaker attempts to execute Ratcatcher 2 for knowing the truth about Starro, but Bloodsport shoots him and takes the drive.
Starro escapes the destroyed laboratory, kills the Thinker and much of the military, and begins taking control of the island's population. Waller tells the Squad that their mission is complete now that Jötunheim is destroyed, but Bloodsport chooses to ignore her and leads his teammates in battling Starro. Waller attempts to execute the Squad for this but is stopped by her subordinates. During the battle, Polka-Dot Man is killed, Harley pierces a hole in Starro's eye, and Ratcatcher 2 summons the city's rats to chew the alien to death from the inside. With the military diverted, Soria takes control of the government and pledges democratic elections. Bloodsport forces Waller to release him and his surviving teammates from their imprisonment in exchange for keeping the contents of the drive confidential, and the Squad are airlifted out of Corto Maltese.
In a post-credits scene, Peacemaker is shown to be alive and under the supervision of Waller's subordinates.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn: A crazed criminal and former psychiatrist. Robbie said the film would show a new side of the character compared to her previous DC Extended Universe (DCEU) appearances due to her being in a new place and surrounded by new characters. Director James Gunn likened Harley's relationship with Bloodsport to the comedy duo Abbott and Costello, with Harley being Costello. Robbie wears a new costume that features Harley's traditional red and black color palette, with Gunn taking inspiration from the character's costume in the video game Batman: Arkham City (2011). He wanted her jacket to have "motorcycle gang style"-writing on the back, and chose "Live fast, die clown" over other potential options "Clown AF" and "World's Best Grandpa". Gunn also removed Harley's "Rotten" facial tattoo that she had in previous DCEU films because both he and Robbie disliked it.
Idris Elba as Robert DuBois / Bloodsport: A mercenary with a technologically-advanced suit that he can use to create different gadgets and transforming weaponry (an adaptation of the comic book character's ability to manifest weapons). After being convicted of shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet, Bloodsport shortens his prison sentence by joining Task Force X so he can help his daughter Tyla. Gunn said each member of the Suicide Squad in the film was inspired by a different film genre, and described Bloodsport as an unsentimental portrayal of a 1960s action hero like Steve McQueen, without the "moral repercussions" of those characters. Elba was reportedly cast to replace Will Smith as Deadshot, but the character was changed to Bloodsport so Smith could reprise his role in the future; Gunn chose Bloodsport because he liked the character in the comics.
Joel Kinnaman as Colonel Rick Flag: The field leader of the Suicide Squad. Kinnaman said the film was an opportunity to give the character a blank slate, and said Flag was sillier, less jaded, more naive, and funnier compared to his portrayal in the first Suicide Squad (2016).
David Dastmalchian as Abner Krill / Polka-Dot Man: An "experiment gone wrong" in a suit covered with polka dots. Gunn described Polka-Dot Man as "the dumbest DC character of all time" whom he hoped to turn into a tragic character for the film. Unbeknownst to Gunn, Dastmalchian has vitiligo and felt a personal connection to the character for reasons including being bullied and called "polka dots" as a child.
Jai Courtney as George "Digger" Harkness / Captain Boomerang: An unhinged Australian thief who wields boomerangs. Courtney stated that unlike Rick Flag, Captain Boomerang has not changed since the events of Suicide Squad, being "the same shitbag liability we came to learn about in the first one. He's out there causing trouble as you would expect."
A sequel to Suicide Squad (2016) was expected in March 2016, before the first film's release that August, with director David Ayer and star Will Smith expected to return for a 2017 filming start after completing their work on Bright (2017). The following month, Ayer said the first film was rated PG-13 because it had originally been envisioned that way by the studio, and an R-rating needs to be planned from the start of a production. He said that it would be worth "lobbying" to make a sequel R-rated, as he felt the first film had the "edge" and "attitude" of an R-rated film already.Suicide Squad was released to a polarized response and was reported to have a difficult production, but the film grossed enough for Warner Bros. Pictures to fast-track development of a sequel. In December, several spin-off films were also in development, including one featuring Smith as Deadshot. The project that was furthest along was Gotham City Sirens, with Margot Robbie planned to star as Harley Quinn. At that time, Ayer was set to direct and produce that film.
Warner Bros. began searching for a new director for Suicide Squad 2, and were courting Mel Gibson by mid-February 2017.Ruben Fleischer, Daniel Espinosa, Jonathan Levine, and David S. Goyer were also considered.Adam Cozad entered negotiations to write the film a month later, at which point there was still no director attached to the project. It was described as being a priority for Warner Bros. Script delays led to the planned filming start being pushed to mid-2018, at which point Gibson moved on from the project. Jaume Collet-Serra became the new frontrunner to direct in early July, by which time Zak Penn had pitched a new story treatment for the film to Warner Bros., and both Smith and Robbie were set to reprise their roles. Penn wrote a draft of a new screenplay for the film as a favor to the studio. Later in July, Collet-Serra was hired to direct Disney's Jungle Cruise (2021) and withdrew from directing Suicide Squad 2 after deciding he would rather originate a new story than continue an existing franchise.
In August, Jared Leto was expected to reprise his role as the Joker from the first film, while production was not expected to begin until Smith completed his work on Aladdin (2019) and Gemini Man (2019) in late 2018. The next month, Gavin O'Connor was chosen to direct the film and co-write it with his writing partner Anthony Tambakis, based on his own vision. The character Black Adam was reportedly the main villain of O'Connor's script, with Dwayne Johnson already attached to that role for DC Films.Michael De Luca joined the film as a producer in January 2018, working with the first film's producer Charles Roven. David Bar Katz and Todd Stashwick were co-writing the film with O'Connor in June, and they had completed their draft by that September. By early October, O'Connor left the film to focus on The Way Back (2020). This was reportedly out of frustration that Warner Bros. was already moving ahead with Birds of Prey (2020), a new Harley Quinn spin-off with a very similar story to the one he wrote for Suicide Squad 2. By then, Joe Manganiello had been attached to four or five planned versions of the film, with his Justice League (2017) character Deathstroke fighting Deadshot, but these plans were never brought to fruition.
James Gunn, writer and director of The Suicide Squad
In October 2018, James Gunn was hired to write and possibly direct the next Suicide Squad film. His deal with Warner Bros. closed following the completion of his exit settlement with The Walt Disney Company, after he was dismissed by Disney and Marvel Studios as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) in July 2018 when conservative commentators began circulating old controversial tweets he had made. Warner Bros. had been interested in recruiting Gunn for the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) immediately after his dismissal by Disney, and asked him to make a new Superman film. Gunn was uncertain if he wanted to take on Superman, so Warner Bros. told him that he could adapt any DC property he liked. He chose to make a Suicide Squad film, recalling that it was the one DC property he dreamed of adapting and had been jealous when Ayer's Suicide Squad film performed well. Ayer supported Gunn's hiring as a "brave and smart move" and called him "the right man for the job". Dave Bautista, who starred in the Guardians of the Galaxy films for Gunn, expressed interest in appearing in his Suicide Squad film.
The day after he was hired by Warner Bros., Disney decided to reinstate Gunn as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He discussed his new DCEU commitment with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who encouraged him to "make a great movie" and agreed to delay production on Guardians until Gunn had completed work on the Suicide Squad sequel. In January 2019, the film was officially titled The Suicide Squad and was scheduled for release on August 6, 2021. The title was suggested by Gunn as a joke, but executives at Warner Bros. liked it. At that time, Gunn was in negotiations to direct the film, which was described as a relaunch rather than a direct sequel that would take the franchise in a new direction and feature a largely new cast. Roven and Peter Safran were set as producers, with Zack Snyder and Deborah Snyder as executive producers. Safran had pushed for Gunn to take on the project, feeling that there was no better director than him to "bring together a disparate group of outsiders on a mission".
We really wanted to make sure that this stands on its own two feet. So... it's not a sequel, but there are some characters that were in the first movie, right? So it's not really a full reboot either. So we just call it James Gunn's The Suicide Squad.
—Producer Peter Safran on the relationship between The Suicide Squad and the first Suicide Squad film
One of the first things Gunn did when discussing the film with Warner Bros. was watch Suicide Squad for the first time. The studio said he could take or leave any elements he wanted from the first film, but they hoped that he would bring back Robbie as Harley Quinn. When asked whether his film would be a sequel or a reboot, Gunn described it as "its own thing" and said it would not contradict the first Suicide Squad. Safran added that The Suicide Squad would not explicitly address the events of the first film or Birds of Prey. Gunn acknowledged the first film's negative reception, but said there were aspects of it that he loved and defended Ayer's casting choices; the first decision Gunn made on the new film was to bring back Robbie as well as Viola Davis as Amanda Waller.
Gunn quickly produced several drafts of the script that Warner Bros. was "extremely high" on. He took inspiration from John Ostrander's original 1980s run on the Suicide Squad comics, but described his script as more of a sequel in the same spirit as those comics rather than an adaptation. He was drawn to Ostrander's take because it was about a "bunch of loser, B-grade supervillains", and felt encouraged to find the best characters for his story even if "a lot of them are losers". Gunn noted that one of the main differences between this film and the Guardians of the Galaxy films was that it would be unclear whether some Suicide Squad members would turn out to be good or bad in the film, unlike the Guardians of the Galaxy who are portrayed as heroes despite their flaws. Gunn told Warner Bros. that he would only direct the film if it was R-rated, which the studio initially "balked" at but ultimately agreed to. Safran called The Suicide Squad a "gritty 1970s war movie combined with the brilliance of James Gunn's characters and comedy", while Gunn said it was the superhero version of The Dirty Dozen (1967). Gunn also cited The Great Escape (1963), Where Eagles Dare (1968), and Kelly's Heroes (1970) as influences.
On February 27, 2019, Smith was revealed to no longer be in the film's cast due to scheduling issues, with filming set to begin in Atlanta, Georgia, that September. On March 1, Gunn met with Idris Elba to discuss him joining the film, reportedly as a replacement for Smith as Deadshot. Elba was Gunn's only choice for the role, and he wrote the script with Elba in mind—something Gunn rarely does for actors he has not met. Elba agreed to join the film during that conversation, as he wanted to work with Gunn and felt "so touched and honored that someone of [Gunn's] talent was really keen to work with" him. Elba was in official negotiations the next week. Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flag was expected to return from the first film at that point, though Gunn's script mostly featured DC Comics characters who were not in Suicide Squad. Later that month, Jai Courtney revealed that he was returning as Captain Boomerang from the first film, and said The Suicide Squad would be fun but different from the previous version. In April, Davis was confirmed to be returning, and the film's creative team decided that Elba would play a new character rather than Deadshot. This decision was made, following weeks of discussions that included Gunn and Elba, to be respectful to Smith and allow him the option to return to the role in the future. Elba later stated that Gunn never intended to cast him as Deadshot.
A table read for the film with the full cast was held on September 11, ahead of the start of filming later that month. Gunn later announced the film's full main cast and characters: Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man, Cena as Peacemaker, Courtney as Captain Boomerang, Joaquín Cosío as Suarez, Fillion as T.D.K., Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Mayling Ng as Mongal, Borg as Javelin, his brother Sean Gunn as Weasel, Juan Diego Botto as Silvio Luna, Reid as Tyla, Davidson as Blackguard, Waititi as the first Ratcatcher, Alice Braga as Sol Soria, Agee, Tinashe Kajese as Flo Crawley, Melchior as Ratcatcher 2, Capaldi as Thinker, Julio Ruiz as Milton, his girlfriend Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt, Davis as Waller, Elba as Bloodsport, Robbie as Quinn, and his frequent collaborator Michael Rooker as Savant. Agee was the on-set reference for King Shark, and also portrays John Economos, the warden of the Belle Reve penitentiary. Other characters considered for the film include Sportsmaster,Dogwelder,Bat-Mite,Livewire, Punch and Jewelee, Black Spider, Deathstroke, Man-Bat, Plastique, Chemo, KGBeast, Solomon Grundy, Rainbow Creature, Gunhawk, Knockout, Killer Frost, Mr. Freeze, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Black Manta from Aquaman (2018), but Gunn felt that the characters he decided to use all worked the best for this film's plot. He did not consider using the Joker because he felt Amanda Waller would not have any use for the character, and chose not to use Kite Man because he felt the character was already a punchline in the comics and would not feel fresh for the film. Gunn also avoided characters like Bronze Tiger and Katana since they are antiheros rather than villains. He chose Starro as one of the main antagonists because he found that character to be ridiculous yet "fucking terrifying", which reflected what he was trying to accomplish with the film. DC allowed Gunn to kill off any of the film's characters, and he had to ignore potential backlash from killing characters to prioritize natural story and character progression. Gunn's first draft originally had Polka-Dot Man surviving and Ratcatcher 2 dying, but he ultimately reversed the decision because he felt Polka-Dot Man's arc was "complete" by the time of his death whereas Ratcatcher's was not. The Breakout scene for Harley Quinn was heavily inspired by Gunn's work on Lollipop Chainsaw, a game developed by Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture, which ironically was distributed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Gunn used the game as a visual reference to create the colorful yet gory "Harley-vision" for the sequence.
Principal photography began on September 20, 2019, at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.Henry Braham served as cinematographer, after previously doing so for Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Production designer Beth Mickle said Gunn wanted the film to be "grey and drab and monotone" until the characters arrive in Corto Maltese, which he wanted to "explode with color" like Panama and Havana. Mickle took specific inspiration for the island's color palette from Colón, Panama. Feige and Marvel Studios co-president Louis D'Esposito visited the set during filming. Gunn took several precautions to try to avoid details about the film leaking, such as referring to Elba's character in the script and on set as "Vigilante" to prevent his actual role from being revealed, and also not giving some of the actors script pages from after their character's deaths.
Gunn said the film featured the biggest sets ever built for a Warner Bros.' film, with Mickle building a set the size of three football fields for the outside of Jotunheim where the final battle was filmed. A "warehouse-sized jungle" set was also built, featuring a bamboo cage that was 8 feet (2.4 m) deep. Gunn also said the film used more practical effects than any other blockbuster comic book film, with on-set special effects provided by Dan Sudick and prosthetics created by Legacy Effects. Gunn highlighted a shot in the film where King Shark, who is created with visual effects, rips a person in half, which was done practically using special effects and prosthetics. Stunt supervisor Guy Norris served as second unit director for one scene in the film. Gunn explained that he rarely uses second unit directors on his films and has never liked working with them, but he enjoyed the experience of working with Norris. Filming in Atlanta was expected to last three months before moving to Panama for a month. Filming wrapped on February 28, 2020.
Fred Raskin and Christian Wagner served as editors on the film. Raskin previously worked alongside Gunn on Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Kelvin McIlwain was the visual effects supervisor for the film, with visual effects vendors including Framestore, Weta Digital, Trixter, Scanline VFX, and Cantina Creative. By April 2020, Gunn was editing the film at his home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said had not affected post-production or the release schedule at that time. He felt the film was too long initially, and removed some elements such as more of Harley Quinn's separate storyline that he felt were "pushing audiences away a little bit too much". The film ultimately came in under budget and had no days of additional photography.
In December 2020, Gunn said editing for the film's final cut had been completed and work on the remaining visual effects, sound, and score was continuing. The film had been fully finished by early February 2021, and Gunn said Warner Bros. had not interfered with his vision for the film and had only given a few minor notes on it. He added that The Suicide Squad was the most fun film he had made, which he attributed to prioritizing creativity over perfectionism, being in the best place mentally and emotionally of his career, having a "stupendous" cast and crew and supportive studio, and feeling that he was at the height of his directing abilities with the film.
In May 2020, John Murphy was set as the composer for the film.Tyler Bates, who scored all of Gunn's previous films, was originally attached to compose the score for The Suicide Squad but eventually left the project. During pre-production, Bates wrote music for Gunn to use on set as he had previously done for Gunn on the Guardians of the Galaxy films. The single "Rain" by grandson and Jessie Reyez from the film's soundtrack album was released on June 22, 2021, with the artists also expected to contribute songs individually to the album. A single from Murphy's score, "So This Is The Famous Suicide Squad", was made available on July 8.
A behind-the-scenes featurette was released on August 22, 2020, during the virtual DC FanDome event. A panel for the film was held during Comic Con Experience's digital event CCXP Worlds on December 6, with James Gunn and members of the cast in attendance. A design for Elba's costume as Bloodsport was revealed.
The film's first trailer was released on March 26, 2021, with Alex McLevy of The A.V. Club praising its jokes and action. He felt everything about the trailer perfectly captured the Suicide Squad's inherent "outlandish fun" from the comics. Anthony D'Alessandro at Deadline Hollywood felt the trailer had all the trademarks of Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy films, noting the use of a "retro hit single" in Steely Dan's "Dirty Work", with The Verge's Jay Peters also getting "some serious Guardians of the Galaxy vibes" from the trailer. D'Alessandro and Peters both compared it to the recently released DC film Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) and noted how the trailer was much more colorful and humorous than that film. McLevy, Jennifer Bisset and Sean Keane of CNET, and CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell all highlighted King Shark and his R-rated scenes. The trailer was viewed 150 million times within a week of its release, breaking the record for red band trailers that was previously held by the trailer for Mortal Kombat (2021).
A green band trailer was released online on April Fool's Day, after debuting in front of theatrical screenings of Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). It features new footage, as Gunn did not just want to use a slightly edited version of the red band trailer as is usually done. Jennifer Ouellette at Ars Technica noted that the new trailer had a darker, more ominous tone than the red band version, without the jokes and King Shark scenes and with added character beats. Another trailer was released on June 22 by the main cast of the film in a marketing stunt where they pretended that they were leaking the trailer early. Gunn and Warner Bros. also joked about the trailer's "early release". The trailer features the song "Rain" by grandson and Jessie Reyez from the film's soundtrack album.
The Suicide Squad was released theatrically by Warner Bros. Pictures on July 30, 2021, in the United Kingdom, and then on August 5, in the United States, where it was also made available on the streaming service HBO Max for a month starting the same day. Warner Bros. announced the joint theatrical and streaming release in December 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of August 22, 2021[update], The Suicide Squad has grossed $49.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $91.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $140.8 million.
In the United States and Canada, it was projected to gross around $30 million from 4,002 theaters in its opening weekend, with some industry insiders estimating it could reach $40 million. It made $12.2 million on its first day, including $4.1 million from Thursday night previews, the biggest total for an R-rated film during the pandemic and slightly topping Birds of Prey's $4 million. It went on to debut to $26.2 million, topping the box office and marking the best R-rated opening since the start of the pandemic, but it was the second-lowest debut total of the DCEU franchise, only ahead of Wonder Woman 1984's $16.7 million opening weekend. The underperformance was blamed on the ongoing concerns over the COVID Delta variant; the simultaneous HBO Max release; the overall mixed reception of the DCEU; a lack of marquee stars and characters; and the confusion of whether the film was a sequel, spin-off, or reboot.
The film fell 71% domestically to $7.5 million in its sophomore weekend, finishing fifth. The large drop was in-line with the likes of Space Jam: A New Legacy, another big-budget film available simultaneously on HBO Max. In the third weekend, it fell by 54%, earning $3.4 million and finishing sixth.
The week prior to its domestic release, the film made $6.7 million from five countries, including $4.7 million in the United Kingdom and $1.6 million in France. The following weekend the film expanded to 69 countries, making $35 million. It finished first in Russia ($4.2 million), Mexico ($2 million), Brazil ($1.5 million), Spain ($1.3 million), and Italy ($1.1 million), while the 10-day running total was $10.8 million in the UK and $3.4 million in France. It made $17 million in 70 overseas countries in its sophomore weekend, dropping by 50%. In Brazil, it retained its first position during the second weekend, with its earnings dropping by 22% and resulting in an overall gross of around 3 million. It earned $8.7 million during the weekend of August 20-22, 2021, in 73 countries.
Samba TV reported 2.8 million US households streamed the film over its first four days of release on HBO Max, the second-largest total of a day-and-date title on the platform behind Mortal Kombat (3.8 million). Around 4 million households had watched the film in its first 10 days of release, the second-largest total on the platform behind Mortal Kombat (around 5 million).
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of 322 reviews of the film are positive, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Enlivened by writer-director James Gunn's singularly skewed vision, The Suicide Squad marks a funny, fast-paced rebound that plays to the source material's violent, anarchic strengths." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 72 out of 100, based on 53 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, the same score as the first film, while PostTrak reported 83% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 62% saying they would definitely recommend it.
Reviewing for The A.V. Club, Katie Rife gave the film a "B+" grade and said, "Now that superhero movies have gone from disreputable entertainment for children to global events ushered in with awed reverence, it was time for someone to come along and pop the balloon. Pulpy and outrageous, irreverent and ultraviolent, The Suicide Squad does so with a smile." Writing for Variety, Owen Gleiberman called the film what "the first Suicide Squad should have been" and said that "The Suicide Squad comes sizzlingly alive as all-cylinders comic-book moviemaking. There's a frowsy destructive joy to the staging." Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent also praised the film and considered it an improvement over Suicide Squad, writing "Gunn’s distinct and self-assured vision, which he’s said was left untouched and unbothered by studio interference, puts The Suicide Squad alongside the very best of modern comic-book filmmaking. His film, which now comes with an all-important 'The' at the beginning of its title, functions both as a sequel and a fresh start." Brian Truitt of USA Today gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4 and said "The Suicide Squad shifts superhero movies into a hilarious, gory and exceedingly bonkers new direction but writer/director James Gunn still makes time to show one goofy supervillain making sure another's buckled up for a plane ride headed for certain doom" and also said that the film "is a bloody marvel that blows up the superhero genre."Justin Chang from Los Angeles Times stated: "After 2016's ugly, bludgeoning Suicide Squad, I couldn't imagine liking - and could barely stomach the idea of seeing - another movie called Suicide Squad. I'm delighted to be proven wrong", and called the film "redemption for James Gunn and DC". Richard Trenholm of CNET gave the film a positive review and praised it for its themes, writing "This irreverent comic book movie takes shots at very big and serious themes, raging against Western imperialism, American foreign policy and government deception as it indicts interference in foreign countries. Representing this chilling bureaucratic evil, Amanda Waller emerges as perhaps the most hateful villain in the DC universe — certainly the coldest."
Alonso Duralde of the TheWrap wrote: "The Suicide Squad is by no means perfect, but like the Deadpool movies, it's a showcase for what can happen when a superhero movie is allowed to be sprightly, self-aware, and sardonic while also indulging in hard-R violence, gore, and language. Gunn's latest creation is not without moments that drag, but when it pops, it pops brilliantly."Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt gave the film a C+ grade and wrote: "The script, accordingly, herks and jerks along with a sort of forced-festive glee, its mounting body count buffeted by goofball banter and pounding soundtrack cues. A good half of the jokes don't land, but unlike his predecessor's joyless slog, Gunn's version at least celebrates the nonsense."Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, and called it "a long, loud, often enjoyable and amusing film that blitzes your eyeballs and eardrums and covers all the bases."
While completing work on The Suicide Squad during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gunn began writing a spin-off television series centered on Peacemaker. In September 2020, HBO Max ordered Peacemaker straight-to-series, with Gunn writing all eight episodes and directing several of them. Cena stars as Peacemaker, with Agee and Holland also reprising their respective film roles. Gunn and Safran executive produce the series, which is set to debut in January 2022.
In January 2021, Gunn said he had ideas for more television spin-offs beyond Peacemaker. That July, he said that he had ideas for a sequel film that would go in a different direction from just assembling a new Suicide Squad team. DC Films president Walter Hamada said a month later that they had plans for more projects with Gunn.