"There's No Fake Stuff": How 'The Suicide Squad' Pulled Off That Giant Beach Battle
“Nobody peed in the wade pool,” Flula Borg said. “I want you to know that. Nobody.”
The first 15 minutes of The Suicide Squad let audiences know exactly what they are in for when it comes to director James Gunn‘s new DC supervillain film. The storming of the beach by the team of mismatched characters is fittingly brutal and hilarious, setting the stage for the carnage and comedy to come.
We spoke to several cast members who were present for filming to learn what it was like to create this key sequence. And yes, no one peed in the wade pool. That we know of.
The rest of this article contains spoilers for The Suicide Squad.
Gunn lets audiences know upfront the stakes are deadly and high. Producer Peter Safran has compared the opening battle to Saving Private Ryan. The lesser Suicide Squad goes into battle ill-prepared and, well, it doesn’t go great, Bob. It’s total chaos.
The production team built an entire beach on a backlot at Pinewood Atlanta Studios, complete with an artificial ocean, and the sequence itself took 10 days to shoot. Flula Borg, who plays “the sex god” Javelin, was present to enjoy the carnage:
“The dopeness is they built an entire beach with a wave machine, with a jungle, with hundreds of, I don’t want to give away plots, but hundreds of people in the forest. The explosion is all real. There’s no green screen, fake stuff. All of these things are real and loud, and wonderfully terrifying. It was like a water park. It’s like Six Flags, but like 12 Flags and the flags are like eight meters tall, and that is amazing.”
Borg had never been on a set so huge:
“Yeah, that was very nice. Dude, it was great. Just fun chaos, absolute. And we did run-throughs, as I imagine an American football team does rehearsals and things. And so, we would do things in our normal outfits – outfits? – in our normal clothes, and then at night we would just go crazy in these weird uniforms and costumes and just have the dopest time.”
Nathan Fillion, who plays TDK in the film, recounted his experience shooting the action at Pinewood Studios:
“The shoot took place on a beach that was constructed on the backlot of Pinewood studios. They stacked up these massive shipping containers and built onto it a giant curtain that you could pull a green screen or a blue screen or whatever screen you wanted, you could pull them back and forth to control all the lighting. We had an ocean with waves, we had a proper beach, there was sand and then there was a jungle beyond and that was all constructed for us. When it came time to really shine, there are squibs going off. There are blanks being fired.”
Every take was a herculean effort, requiring numerous practical effects and explosions. Given all the moving parts, Fillion wanted to nail each take:
“There are giant explosions going off behind you and you don’t just cut, let’s go back and do it again. It’s an hour and some to reset all those things happening so if you can get it in one take, that’s the goal. You want to be that guy that goes boom, nailed it, that’s all you need, let’s move on, so that’s where my hip was. Let’s just do this right on the first time. I don’t know, that’s your job as an actor you do that job. I think TDK was loving every minute of that moment of his, which made it easy for me because I was loving every minute of that moment of his.”
The action is a gory sight to witness, but more than that, it gives all the characters their moment to shine or perish. In less than 10 minutes, Gunn and his cast give the opening a beginning, middle, and end. Unlike too many comic book movies, it’s not an exposition fest, but an explosive blend of action and character. Even the opening shot tells a story: nobody is what they appear to be at first glance.
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