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Suicide Squad filmed villain action in Toronto

Suicide Squad - David Ayer and Will SmithNew action movie Suicide Squad filmed mainly on sound stages at Pinewood Toronto Studios in Ontario, Canada.

Written and directed by David Ayer, the film groups together a collection of anti-heroes and villains from DC Comics - including Will Smith's Deadshot and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn - and forces them into battle in the fictional Midway City.

Toronto was chosen as a filming location in part due to the facilities at Pinewood Studios and the ability to look like a nondescript major metropolitan city with the ability to conduct a lot of road closures for action sequences,” says Scott Alexander, key assistant location manager on the film. 

The production team used Pinewood as a base and made particular use of the facility’s 46,000 sq ft ‘mega stage’, a space that will soon be home to CBS’ new Star Trek TV series

Sets built for Suicide Squad included a high-security prison where the main characters are incarcerated when they are first forced into service. A 250-foot-long city street was designed and built for many of the film’s bigger action set pieces, complete with a complex overhead flying system to accommodate aerial stunt work.

The team also ventured outside the studio to film on location in the streets of Toronto, including a centrepiece car chase.

“We shut down six blocks of Yonge Street – the main commercial street in the city – for multiple nights for car chases,” says Marty Dejczak, the film’s location manager, in comments to KFTV.

Suicide Squad ensemble

“Another few blocks were shut down to install a plane crash," says Dejczak. "A section of the Lakeshore Boulevard Highway was closed for a couple of helicopter crashes. In all these locations major set decorating was done to store fronts and roadways. All street and highway signs were changed out and street lighting in certain sections was changed, enhanced or turned off.”

“We closed Lakeshore for multiple nights of filming from 7pm to 6am,” says Alexander. “As soon as the road was closed each night we would take over with our picture vehicles, stunt rigging and set dressing and set it up only to start cleaning it up at 5am to have the roads open at 6am for the rush hour.  

“These closures involved many police officers and traffic control companies as we had to shut down off-ramps from the highway above, but we never missed a deadline.”

Suicide Squad is the latest comic book adaptation from Warner Bros and DC, following on from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Suicide Squad - Harley QuinnThe plan is to emulate the spectacular success of Marvel Studios by creating a cinematic universe using DC’s iconic characters.

Warner Bros filmed Batman v Superman in Michigan, but relocated to the UK for follow-up movies Wonder Woman and Justice League, and is likely to remain near London for The Flash.  

As with all big-budget productions, both Warner Bros and Marvel are driven by the availability of generous filming incentives, world-class studio facilities and experienced crews.

London and Toronto are two cities that offer the full complement of resources.

Marvel has built on nearly a decade of success – from the launch of the first Iron Man movie in 2008 – to film action scenes in parts of the world that have rarely appeared in movies of this scale, like Johannesburg, Leipzig and Seoul. The move helps build Marvel’s global fan base, as well as offering exciting new visuals for audiences.     

Warner Bros. and DC are aspiring to similar success with the likes of Justice League and a planned standalone Batman reboot. 

For more on filming in Ontario see our production guide.

Images: Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc/Ratpac-Dune Entertainment