Why King Shark Is a Great White Instead of a Hammerhead in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad

The highly-anticipated trailer for The Suicide Squad was released recently, giving us our first proper look at the cast of wacky anti-heroes and villains populating the James Gunn flick. One notable new entry into the franchise is King Shark, voiced by Sylvester Stallone. In the comics, King Shark is shown to be a hammerhead. Gunn took to Twitter to explain why the character’s genealogy was changed to a Great white shark instead.

“I did tests with the hammerhead design, which I love & originally thought I’d use. But having eyes on the sides far apart made it incredibly awkward shooting interactions with other people. You couldn’t really see him looking at the other person & the shots tended to be too wide.”

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It seems Gunn’s redesign for the character was purely a matter of practicality for the filming process. But the redesign ended up unexpectedly echoing another popular recent version of King Shark on the animated Harley Quinn show. In the show, as in The Suicide Squad, King Shark is depicted as a Great white shark with a somewhat doughy physique.

Some fans assumed that the popularity of the character on the show might have prompted the team behind The Suicide Squad to develop their own King Shark along similar lines. But in a couple of follow-up tweets, James Gunn clarified that the resemblance between his King Shark and the one on the show is a mere coincidence.

“I was insistent on the dad-bod from the beginning as I didn’t think King Shark would have such mammalian body structure… I love that design & the Harley Quinn show & @RonFunches version, but it was a complete coincidence as we were shooting a year before they debuted. @TheSlyStallone’s version (developed by @steveagee on set) is very different.”

Coincidence or not, King Shark was a breakout character on Harley Quinn, and looks to be the breakout character in The Suicide Squad as well, judging by the number of memes and online references the character has already garnered. This is not the first time a purely CGI creature voiced by a famous actor has become the standout in one of Gunn’s movies, since the same thing happened with Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel in the original Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Written and directed by James Gunn, The Suicide Squad stars Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Michael Rooker as Savant, Flula Borg as Javelin, David Dastmalchian as Polka-Dot Man, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2, Idris Elba as Bloodsport, Mayling NG as Mongal, Peter Capaldi as The Thinker, Alice Braga as Solsoria, Sylvester Stallone as King Shark, Pete Davidson as Blackguard, Nathan Fillion as TDK, Sean Gunn as Weasel, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, John Cena as Peacemaker, with Steve Agee, Taika Waititi and Storm Reid. The film arrives in theaters and on HBO Max Aug. 6.

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