The Suicide Squad introduced plenty of characters who hadn’t had their chance to shine onscreen, from Peacemaker to Polka-Dot Man. But perhaps the biggest surprise for DC fans was seeing Starro The Conqueror as the villain that the squad battles. James Gunn proved that a giant starfish can actually be pretty intimidating—and his inclusion inadvertently gave the very timely message that if you just cover your damn face, you won’t die (... from having Starro’s face-huggers sucking on your face to mind-control you). However, it turns out Gunn initially wanted a very different “villain” to face off against the squad: Superman.
While on the podcast Script Apart, The Suicide Squad’s writer and director talked about how, before choosing Starro as the villain, he thought the Suicide Squad should fight Superman. He believed that it would be “a very interesting story.” Ultimately, he scrapped the idea when he realized that Starro would make a far better villain to fight. “When I came up with Starro, he’s a character I love from the comics. I think he’s the perfect comic book character, because absolutely ludicrous but he’s also very scary in his own way,” he explained.
Gunn read the comics while growing up and he remembering thinking that Starro and his mind control powers were terrifying back then. “What he does is scary,” Gunn said. “He used to scare the crap out of me when I was a child, putting those face-huggers on Superman and Batman and stuff. So I thought he was one of the major, major DC villains that was probably never going to be put into another movie. And if they did, they would do it like, the black cloud version of Starro. Not a giant walking starfish, a kaiju that is bright pink and cerulean blue, just ridiculously big, bright bad guy.”
Having Superman be the villain wouldn’t be a bad fit; if anything, it’d feel reminiscent of the critically acclaimed Harley Quinn animated series. But Starro forces the squad to prove their abilities, with an intense and very entertaining face-off in the movie’s final moments.