Warner sets a superstar cast for the decidedly risky ‘Suicide Squad’ movie

While Zack Snyder is busy playing with the most recognizable action figures in the Warner Bros. playset, it appears that David Ayer is the one making the most unlikely DC film announced so far, with a cast that is, frankly, insane.

There have been rumors about who might play what for several months now, but today, it appears to be official, and I am genuinely surprised. I know that there are three names that end up on any short list at Warner at this point, and I assumed that's why we heard their names in the mix on this movie. Instead, all three of them are actually in the film, and Ayer is suddenly the guy in charge of what could be one of the biggest and strangest movies of the modern comic book era.

Rick Flag has been a cornerstone of the Suicide Squad since the creation of the book, and his son (sort of, in the grand tradition of comic book genealogy) is still a key member of the modern team. Tom Hardy, who has already played one DC character in “The Dark Knight Rises,” will be Flag in the film, while Will Smith is set now as Deadshot, a hired gunman who, like Bullseye in the Marvel universe, is known for never missing. He's also known for a full-face mask, but with Smith playing the part, I'm going to guess that will not be the case for most of the movie.

I wrote recently about how I hoped Margot Robbie was cast as Harley Quinn, and it appears that is indeed the case, with Jared Leto confirmed as The Joker. I'm betting that's a huge payday for Leto, and the stakes are certainly high for him as an actor. It's not going to be easy for anyone to step into the part after Heath Ledger's indelible performance in “The Dark Knight,” but Leto's got the benefit of being able to play the Joker/Harley dynamic, something we've never seen in a live-action film before. It's new ground, and the casting of these two certainly indicates that these are major roles in the film.

Jai Courtney, who Hollywood keeps telling us is a star, is set to play Boomerang, while Cara Delevinge is set as the Enchantress. I'm guessing they are secondary to the rest of the cast simply by virtue of the casting, and it sounds like there's still an effort to include Jesse Eisenerg as Lex Luthor in the film in some way. What I find really intriguing is the report that Warner is trying to woo Oprah Winfrey to play Amanda Waller in the DC Universe.

Warner has a lot staked on Smith and Robbie in particular right now, with the two of them starring in “Focus,” one of Warner's big movies for 2015, and it sounds like “Suicide Squad” is a real test of whether or not they can turn lesser-known comic titles into events through casting and by selling the story. I'm curious to see what kind of movie Ayer makes of this material, and just how rough Warner is willing to let him play considering how much money they'll have staked on the overall success of this movie universe they're just starting to build.

“Suicide Squad” is set to arrive in theaters August 5, 2016.