Some official concept art from James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad has emerged online, showing Idris Elba’s discarded Deadshot costume.
The image comes as part of a collection shared by concept artist David Levy on Behance. The piece in question shows Elba dangling from the Jotunheim facility’s ruins in a costume closely resembling Will Smith’s Deadshot gear from David Ayer’s 2016 version of Suicide Squad.
When Elba joined the cast of The Suicide Squad in March 2019, it was reported that he was replacing Will Smith as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot. However, it was later revealed that Elba was to play a new character, which many (including members of the crew) believed was Adrian Chase/Vigilante. “To keep Idris Elba’s character from getting out we called him Vigilante in the script and on his chair back,” Gunn later said. “We kept it so secret that, we were a week away from finishing shooting and the production designer, Beth Mickle, said, ‘wait, he’s not Vigilante?'” Elba echoed the director’s sentiments, saying, “It wasn’t more of a deception. We just needed to give it a name because we didn’t know what character from the DC Universe we were going to use.” Freddie Stroma went on to play Vigilante in Peacemaker, The Suicide Squad‘s John Cena-led spinoff.
In August 2020, Elba’s role was revealed to be none other than Robert DuBois/Bloodsport. Rumors then surfaced suggesting that Gunn wanted Elba for Deadshot but later decided to switch gears and change Elba’s character to leave the door open for Smith to return in later installments. “Those rumors would be natural because Will said he wasn’t joining the second movie,” Elba said in August 2021. “So, it was quite natural for audiences or fans to think that I would be taking over the Deadshot character because the Deadshot character lived in the other movie. But I’m really satisfied that James [Gunn] didn’t want to do that; I didn’t want to do that. Deadshot is a great character and Will slays it, so I was really keen the audience and fans kept that rumor going. Surprise!”
Although Elba has seemingly dismissed rumors of replacing Smith, this new image suggests the actor was considered for the role of Deadshot early in the film’s production. If true, the abandoned idea would make sense given that Elba’s Bloodsport and Smith’s Deadshot share a similar character arc in their respective films — each is an expert marksman motivated by the desire to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Yet, whereas Smith’s return is still unknown, Elba’s future in the DC Universe seems more assured.
In August, journalist Erik Davis shared that, according to Elba, the actor has “got a really big thing cooking for DC right now.” No details are available on the mystery project, but Elba has expressed interest in visiting Bloodsport’s infamous altercation with Superman in which the assassin shot the Man of Steel with a kryptonite bullet. “It wouldn’t be next, it would be what came before. I would be really interested to see why he went to [Belle Reve]why did he shoot Superman,” he said. “I would love to see that narrative come alive.”