What Will Smith's Exit Means for 'Suicide Squad 2' and the DCEU

When the Suicide Squad return to the big screen, there’s at least one face you’re not going to see: Will Smith. The Deadshot actor has reportedly taken an “exit” from the upcoming sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad, helmed by former Marvel director James Gunn. There’s also even a chance that Will Smith may be out of the “DC Extended Universe” completely.

On Thursday, Variety reported Will Smith has left Suicide Squad 2 due to scheduling conflicts. The decision was “made on amicable terms between both sides with no hard feelings.” In a follow-up posted on Twitter, the reporter who broke the story, Justin Kroll, added that Warner Bros. is deciding between recasting Smith’s character with another actor, or omitting Deadshot and including a different DC Comics character.

“One item I forgot to add to story,” Kroll said, “sources say execs are now deciding whether they will recast the role or replace Deadshot with a different character from the DC universe to join the team in sequel.”

So, is Will Smith out of the DCEU, the shared universe that includes films like 2013’s Man of Steel, 2016’s Batman v Superman, and 2017’s Wonder Woman?

That remains to be seen, based on how Warner Bros. proceeds from here. If Deadshot is recast with a new actor, then yeah, Will Smith has jiggied out of the DC universe. But if Deadshot is simply not included in Suicide Squad 2, there remains a chance Smith could return in another DC movie; Suicide Squad 3, perhaps, or whatever becomes of Matt Reeves’ Batman movies.

While from a fan’s perspective the DCEU could be in a state of flux, the reality is that Warner Bros. hasn’t slowed down its efforts on the franchise, even after the lukewarm performance of Justice League. True, Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck have left their roles as Superman and Batman respectively, and now Will Smith appears to be gone as well.

But the 2018 hit Aquaman proved there is still plenty of interest in DC heroes — and it seems, the weirder the better. Meanwhile, Shazam! starring Zachary Levi awaits just around the corner while Wonder Woman 1984 is currently in production. Margot Robbie, who starred as Harley Quinn in 2016’s Suicide Squad in a standout role, is pouring a lot of creative energy into Birds of Prey.

Watch: Costume test reel for 'Birds of Prey.'

DC characters have been around since Superman lifted a car over his head in Action Comics #1 in 1938. So long as these characters continue to inspire audiences hungry for heroism (or in the case of Suicide Squad, anti-heroism), it’s unlikely they’re going away, even if a few familiar faces need to be swapped out.

Suicide Squad 2 is set to be released in theaters on August 6, 2021.

Media via Warner Bros. Pictures