Back when Elba was first cast, rumors stated he was coming aboard to replace Will Smith as Deadshot, the leader of the original team in David Ayer’s film. However, it didn’t take long for those reports to be adjusted, instead claiming that Elba would be an original character.
By the time the film was released in August 2021, fans would come to fall in love with Bloodshot. Gunn clearly did, too, as he admitted to writing the role specifically for Idris Elba as an actor.
But many were left wondering how close Deadshot truly was to being recast, ousting Will Smith’s DCU role in the process.
Now, thanks to newly surfaced concept art, the idea seems to have been heavily considered.
Replacing Will Smith
Thanks to The Suicide Squad concept artist David Levy, via Behance, it seems that Warner Bros. former plans to recast Will Smith's Deadshot have been confirmed.
The piece of concept art that holds this new confirmation sees Deadshot hanging from the top of Jötunheim, with Harley Quinn reaching for him.
Looking closer at the figure, it doesn't look to share a resemblance to Will Smith, despite clearly showcasing Deadshot's logo on his left shoulder.
Not only is there the logo, but the outfit itself is nearly identical to the one worn in 2016's Suicide Squad, where the character first debuted.
In a former interview with Screenrant, The Suicide Squad producer Peter Safran, who now co-leads DCU, revealed that the inclusion of Deadshot "[was] discussed," but that Gunn's timetable to do the movie caused them to have to find a way forward without Will Smith:
"We'd discussed it, but it was... I think the ‘Will’ of it all was really more of a schedule thing than anything else. We knew we had to start shooting in September because, frankly, we knew probably earlier than other people did that James was going to come back and do Guardians. So it was really important that we started shooting when we started shooting, and Will wasn’t available. That kind of made it easier all around: what are you going to do? He’s not available. So it’s also nice to, frankly, help separate it from the first movie, I think, in a greater fashion."
When asked directly if Deadshot could have been leading the team instead of Bloodsport, Safran answered, "it could have been. It was certainly a discussion."
When Could Audiences See Bloodsport or Deadshot Again?
It makes perfect sense that Deadshot was originally in Bloodsport’s role, as the two even have strong similarities.
They both basically led the team itself, and each was motivated by a strained relationship with their daughter. The two also share very similar power sets, making the supposed character swap that much easier, as it likely led to fewer changes in the overall plot.
While it’s not clear for sure if the figure in the concept art is meant to have the likeness of Idris Elba, the fact that it’s in question in the first place is proof enough that at one point, they were seriously discussing replacing Will Smith in the role.
Since they didn’t, the door is open for Smith to return if he ever wished to. As for Bloodsport, his return remains a mystery as well, though the actor did recently tease something in the works at Warner Bros.—however, that was before the entire regime change, so who knows what’s happening now.
With that said, given how James Gunn is at the head of the DCU now, the odds are very much on Elba’s side if he chooses he wants another adventure as Bloodsport.
The filmmaker is surely going to want to continue the story of his team of villains at some point; maybe Will Smith can join in on the fun next time around.
The Suicide Squad is now streaming on HBO Max.