James Gunn says The Suicide Squad tried three different voice actors for “lovable galoot” King Shark before settling on Sylvester Stallone.
James Gunn reveals that The Suicide Squad‘s King Shark had three voice actors before Sylvester Stallone. The DC Comics version of Nanaue, a humanoid shark descended from a god, never was part of the Suicide Squad but was an adversary for Aquaman. On TV he’s shown up on The Flash and the animated Harley Quinn.
A shark that walks around on land and speaks in a human voice may have been a little too silly even for a movie like the DCEU Aquaman. But he’s exactly the right amount of silly for Gunn’s Suicide Squad follow-up, which also features a giant weasel, John Cena as a vigilante who kills people to achieve peace and a man whose superpower is using the polka dots on his suit as weapons. Steve Agee did the motion-capture work required to bring King Shark to life as a CGI character, while Stallone did the honors behind the microphone, providing the cinematic Nanaue with his voice.
Creating motion-capture characters is of course just part of the process of making movies these days and is something Gunn himself is quite familiar with after two Guardians of the Galaxy movies. But it turns out King Shark was still quite challenging to bring to life, for a variety of reasons. Speaking to CinemaBlend, writer-director Gunn talked about the many ways creating King Shark challenged him, and spoke in particular about finding the right actor to voice the character. Gunn says he actually wrote the part for Stallone himself, but initially didn’t cast Stallone, instead going through various other performers before winding up back where he started. Gunn explained:
We had one voice actor come in and do the whole movie. It didn’t work. We had another voice actor come in and do the whole movie. He didn’t come to life. We had an actor — a really, really famous actor who was also a friend of mine — come in and do the voice. And that didn’t work! And then I was like, ‘Guys, I don’t know what to do. I think I have to go to Sly.’ And I called up Sly. He said he would love to do it. He came in and right away, that character just sort of came to life.
Stallone obviously worked for Gunn previously on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 so they already had a relationship. It’s interesting of course to hear about Gunn’s difficulty realizing King Shark as he’s done CGI characters before, notably Rocket Raccoon and Groot, to great effect. But Gunn says King Shark was just a different animal than his previous CGI creations. He explained:
We started developing him very early on, and he was a much, much harder character to develop than Groot or Rocket. Because a shark is, innately, not a character that walks around. He’s not a mammal, so he probably doesn’t have a six pack. (Laughs) And so developing him from the very beginning as this sort of lovable, but incredibly dangerous, galoot was very, very difficult.
Gunn says there’s a certain “magical realism” to The Suicide Squad that allows the movie to get away with having a character who is literally a walking, talking shark. In the world of the movie as Gunn explains it, people are used to seeing insane things like flying people, but they still are thrown by the sight of someone like King Shark.
Indeed Gunn has previously proven himself adept at blending human and non-human characters in his movies, giving each distinctive personalities. In fact, characters like Rocket Raccoon and Groot are no less “human” than the humans in Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s no reason to think Gunn can’t perform the same magic with King Shark in The Suicide Squad. And of course it helps having the iconic Stallone giving the character the right “lovable but incredibly dangerous galoot” quality. That description could indeed also fit Stallone’s most memorable non-CGI character, Rocky Balboa.
- The Suicide Squad (2021)Release date: Aug 06, 2021
- The Batman (2022)Release date: Mar 04, 2022
- DC League of Super-Pets (2022)Release date: May 20, 2022
- Black Adam (2022)Release date: Jul 29, 2022
- The Flash (2022)Release date: Nov 04, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022
- Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)Release date: Jun 02, 2023
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