Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was the breakout star of 2016’s Suicide Squad, but she’s not part of the James Gunn-directed sequel, Forbes reports.
The world expected Suicide Squad to be a change of pace for Warner Bros’ DC Expanded Universe (DCEU) following the dark tone of the underwhelming Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The trailers sold it as a fun ride set to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” written and directed by David Ayer of Training Day fame, and set to introduce a new version of the Joker and Harley Quinn (in her big screen debut), two of the most popular characters in the DC Comics catalog.
Critics eviscerated it. It currently holds a 27 percent on the movie review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, with 255 negative reviews against 96 positive ones. So deep were the criticisms that filmmaking YouTube channel Folding Ideas used it as an example of everything film editors should avoid.
Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn, however, was near-universally praised as she lost herself in the character and made it her own.
She elevated the already extremely popular Harley Quinn to iconic status, becoming the most popular Halloween costume for two years in a row, per Radio Times.
So why wouldn’t she come back?
— Suicide Squad (@SuicideSquadWB) January 19, 2017
Well, it’s certainly not because she’s done with the role. In fact, she’s more committed than ever, as Harley Quinn will return in Birds of Prey, which Robbie herself is producing.
Margot Robbie insisted on a female director and she got it in the form of Cathy Yan. The film will also star Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, and Ewan McGregor as the villain, Black Mask.
In the comics, Renee Montoya eventually becomes the Question, a faceless-mask-wearing crime fighter, but her superhero identity has yet to be confirmed to appear in the film.
Apparently, her absence is due to Suicide Squad‘s sequel doing its best to distance itself from its predecessor, per the Hollywood Reporter.
James Gunn, who got the job after Disney fired him from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, renamed the project to The Suicide Squad and wrote a script that features a mostly all-new cast.
This is in the spirit of the comic book series which features a rotating cast of characters, with Harley Quinn, Deadshot (played by Will Smith in the 2016 film), and Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) being the three most frequent cast members.
Robbie’s absence from the overhauled cast puts co-star Will Smith’s participation into question, Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller, however, is likely to return.
You can watch the teaser for Birds of Prey below.