James Gunn is sparing no expense for the next Suicide Squad movie. After Idris Elba confirmed he's on board to replace Will Smith, word on the street is WWE star turned actor John Cena is also in talks to join the cast. If all goes well, it will be his comic book film debut. He'll star alongside Elba, whose character remains under wraps (turns out he won't be Deadshot, sorry!), Margot Robbie, who will reprise her role as Harley Quinn, and Viola Davis, who will play Amanda Weller. Jai Courtney is also expected back as Captain Boomerang.
Reports of Cena's involvement come on the heels of Dave Bautista's withdrawal from the film. According to reporter Justin Kroll, who first broke the news, Bautista was committed but ultimately had to pass due to other work commitments. The actor is due to start production for the film adaptation of Dune.
But it's not like Cena has a clear schedule either. In an effort to beef up his acting resume, the former wrestler has been picking up projects left and right, including the ensemble comedy film Blockers and Transformers spin-off, Bumblebee. He's also slated to appear in upcoming movies like The Janson Directive with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle with Robert Downey Jr. and Selena Gomez.
If Cena accepts the role, Kroll suspects he'll portray Peacemaker. Also known as Christopher Smith, Peacemaker is "an agent of peace whose motives are driven by an extremist form of pacifism that makes him love peace so much he would kill for it," per Collider.
Interestingly, now that Gunn is at the helm as writer and director, the sequel is less of a sequel and more of a reboot. Producer Peter Safran confirmed Suicide Squad would get a fresh take under Gunn's direction.
"First of all, we don’t call it Suicide Squad 2 ‘cause it’s a total reboot, so it’s The Suicide Squad and I think people should be extremely excited about it," he told JoBlo. "It’s everything you would hope from a James Gunn script and I think that says a lot and that promises a lot and I know that we will deliver a lot."
Safran also squashed any concerns about conflict of interest for Gunn. The director was recently reinstated as director of Guardians of the Galaxy 3 following a Twitter scandal. Now he's set to direct MCU and DC films.
"It was all handled incredibly elegantly and everybody knows on both sides that Suicide Squad is the priority today and he’ll finish that movie and then everybody knows that his next film will be Guardians," Safran said. "It’s the best of all possible both worlds, I think, for fans and for James Gunn himself.”
The Suicide Squad hits theaters August 6, 2021.