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The film was announced in 2009 with Dan Lin as producer, Stephen Gilchrist as co-producer and Justin Marks as the screenwriter. David Ayer signed on to direct and write the film in September 2014. He later described the film to Empire Online as "Dirty Dozen with supervillains". Ayer had six weeks to write the screenplay, given the release date was already set.
In October 2014, Warner Bros. had initially offered Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Margot Robbie, and Will Smith roles in the film. In November, TheWrap revealed that Jared Leto was in talks for the role of Joker, for which Gosling was originally sought. The main cast was announced by Warner Brothers in December 2014 with Smith, Hardy, Leto, Robbie, Jai Courtney, and Cara Delevingne as Deadshot, Rick Flag, Joker, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, and Enchantress, respectively. The studio was also considering Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Oprah Winfrey for the role of Amanda Waller. Following the announcement of the cast, comic book writer John Ostrander (creator of the modern incarnation of the Suicide Squad) talked with Comic Book Resources about the casting, saying, "I have no problem with the casting... what I am really impressed by with all of the casting is that they are getting some very good actors to play these parts."
In January 2015, Davis expressed interest in playing Amanda Waller during an interview, saying "I'm fascinated by [Waller]." Meanwhile, Tom Hardy had to drop out as Rick Flag because of scheduling issues with his film The Revenant. Jake Gyllenhaal, who worked with Ayer on End of Watch, was then given an offer to replace Hardy as Flag, but he declined. The studio was then looking at Joel Edgerton, Jon Bernthal, and Joel Kinnaman to play the role. In February, Jay Hernandez joined the cast and Kinnaman was also confirmed to play Flag. At the 87th Academy Awards, it was revealed that Davis had been cast as Amanda Waller. In March 2015, boxer Raymond Olubawale was reported to have an unspecified role in the film, and Scott Eastwood announced that he had been cast. Later that month, it was confirmed that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Karen Fukuhara had been cast as Killer Croc and Katana, respectively. Adam Beach, Ike Barinholtz, and Jim Parrack were added to the cast in April 2015. In January 2016, Ben Affleck was confirmed to reprise his role as Batman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Filming began on April 13, 2015 in Toronto. On April 26 and 27, filming took place at Hy's Steakhouse. A "snowstorm" scene was filmed on April 29 on Adelaide St. and in Ching Lane. On May 5, a few major scenes were filmed in downtown Toronto next to Yonge and Dundas Square. Principal photography wrapped in August 2015 after additional filming took place in Chicago, Illinois. Reshoots ensued in 2016 following Warner's desire to make a more lighthearted and comedic tone akin to the trailers, especially as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was criticized for being too somber; it was reported the reshoots cost as much as $22 million (more than the typical $6–10 million that additional filming costs). It was also confirmed that Zack Snyder filmed a scene with the Flash while shooting Justice League in London, while Ayer was in post-production on Suicide Squad. Ayer confirmed that the film was completed on June 24, 2016. Despite the involvement of multiple editors in the process, only John Gilroy is named in the main credit sequence. It was later revealed that almost all of Jared Leto's scenes were omitted from the final cut. An interview with Leto revealed that he was upset over the removal of his work.
Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price, who previously worked with Ayer on Fury, composed the score for Suicide Squad. Suicide Squad: Original Motion Picture Score was announced for a release date of August 8, 2016. A soundtrack album for the film, titled Suicide Squad: The Album, was announced in June 2016, and released on August 5, 2016. The album's first single, "Heathens" by Twenty One Pilots, was released on June 20, 2016. A music video for the song, set in a prison and featuring footage from the film, was released on June 21. "Sucker for Pain" was released as the second single on June 24. The album's third single, "Purple Lamborghini" by Skrillex and Rick Ross, was released on July 22. "Gangsta" by Kehlani; "Standing in the Rain" by Action Bronson, Mark Ronson, and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys; "Medieval Warfare" by Grimes; and a cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" performed by Panic! at the Disco were released as four promotional singles on August 2, August 3, and August 4, 2016, respectively, with "Medieval Warfare" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" being released on the same day.
Suicide Squad premiered at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on August 1, 2016. The subsequent London premiere took place on August 3, 2016. It was theatrically released in the United States and in the UK on August 5, 2016, in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D.
Suicide Squad was released on Digital HD on November 15, 2016, and on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra-HD Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray 3D, and DVD on December 13, 2016. An extended cut of the film is included in the home entertainment release, containing roughly thirteen minutes of footage absent from the theatrical version. A novelization of the movie was written by Marv Wolfman.
Margot Robbie's performance as Harley Quinn was well received, with many critics eager to see more of the character in future films. In January 2017, David Ayer said he wished he had done certain things differently in the film including story elements, as well as giving more screen time to the Joker.
In February 2019, Margot Robbie was confirmed to reprise her role as Harley Quinn. In March 2019, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Idris Elba was cast as Deadshot, replacing Will Smith who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Peter Safran, who produced Aquaman and Shazam!, stated that the film will be more of a soft reboot than a sequel with mostly new characters in the film. Production was scheduled to begin later that year in September in Atlanta, Georgia. On March 29, 2019, it was reported that Jai Courtney will reprise his role as George "Digger" Harkness / Captain Boomerang, while on April 5, it was reported that the character of Deadshot was removed from the film and that Elba would be playing a different character instead in order to leave an opportunity for Smith to return in the future. That same day, it was also reported that both Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman will reprise their roles as Amanda Waller and Rick Flag. By April 2019, David Dastmalchian and Daniela Melchior were cast as Polka-Dot Man and Ratcatcher, while John Cena was in talks for the role of Peacemaker. In May 2019, Benicio del Toro was reported to be in talks to play the film's villain.
On July 10, 2019, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Storm Reid will play Idris Elba's character's daughter. On August 19, 2019, Flula Borg joined the cast. On August 24, 2019, Deadline reported that Steve Agee would voice King Shark. The next day, Deadline reported Nathan Fillion had joined the cast. The day after that, it was revealed that Taika Waititi was cast in an undisclosed role. On September 3, 2019, Deadline reported that Peter Capaldi was cast in a role and Pete Davidson is in talks for a role. On September 13, 2019, Gunn released the full cast list for the film, confirming Cena's and Davidson's involvement as well as announcing that Michael Rooker, who was previously rumored to appear in the film as King Shark before said rumors were debunked, would be appearing alongside Julio Ruiz, Jennifer Holland, Alice Braga, Tinahe Kajese, Sean Gunn, Juan Diego Botto, Mayling Ng and Joaquín Cosío in undisclosed roles.
Following the announcement of Zack Snyder's Justice League in May 2020 due to the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement campaign, fans have commenced a new campaign under the name #ReleaseTheAyerCut, which director and writer David Ayer supported. He has requested assistance in bringing his own vision into HBO Max, where Snyder's cut will be released in 2021.
In July 2020, Ayer stated how his vision was changed due to the success of Deadpool and the negative criticism received by Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, highlighting an early trailer that "nailed the tone and intention of the film [he] made", saying that his "soulful drama was beaten into a 'comedy'". Later that month, Ayer confirmed that a director's cut for Suicide Squad "definitely exists" and requested that AT&T "[let] it see the sunlight". Affleck's stunt double Richard Cetrone said the film would have included "more Batman".