By February 2009, a Suicide Squad film was in development at Warner Bros. Pictures. Ayer signed on to write and direct in September 2014, and by October, the casting process had begun. Principal photography began on April 13, 2015, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with additional filming in Chicago, Illinois, and ended in August that year.
Suicide Squad premiered in New York City on August 1, 2016 and was theatrically released on August 5, 2016, in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D. The film received generally negative reviews from critics, who praised its performances of the cast (mainly the performances of Smith, Robbie and Leto), but criticized it for its choppy plot and editing.
In the aftermath of Superman's death, intelligence operative Amanda Waller assembles a team of dangerous criminals—the deranged Harley Quinn; elite hit man Deadshot; pyrokinetic ex-gangster El Diablo; opportunistic thief Captain Boomerang; monstrous cannibal Killer Croc; and specialized mercenary Slipknot—at Belle Reve Penitentiary and places them under command of Colonel Rick Flag, to be used as disposable assets in high-risk missions for the United States government. Each member has a small bomb implanted in their neck, designed to detonate should any member rebel or try to escape.
One of Waller's intended recruits is Flag's girlfriend, Dr. June Moone, an archaeologist who is possessed by a witch-goddess known as "Enchantress" after accidentally opening a cursed idol. Enchantress quickly turns on everyone, deciding to eradicate mankind for imprisoning her. She besieges Midway City with a horde of monsters and summons her brother, Incubus, to assist her. Waller then deploys the squad to extract a high-profile mark from Midway, and Flag alerts them that Enchantress' heart must be cut out of her to regain control of her.
Ahead of their departure, they are joined by Katana, who wields a mystic sword and acts as Flag's bodyguard. Harley's lover, the Joker, finds out about her predicament and tortures Griggs, one of Waller's men, into leading him to the facility where the nano bombs are made. He blackmails one of the scientists involved in the program into disabling Harley's bomb. Sensing the squad's approach, Enchantress destroys their helicopter, forcing them to proceed on foot to their target. On the way, Boomerang convinces Slipknot that the bombs are a ruse meant to keep them under control. Slipknot attempts to escape and is killed, while the team is attacked by Enchantress's minions. The team manages to escape to their final destination at an underground bunker, where they learn that their mark is Waller herself, who is attempting to cover up her involvement.
The squad escorts Waller to the rooftop for extraction, but the arriving helicopter has been hijacked by the Joker and his men, who open fire on the squad while Harley climbs aboard. However, the helicopter is shot down by Waller's men, and Harley jumps out while the Joker seemingly perishes in the explosion, after which Harley rejoins the squad. Alerted to Waller's whereabouts, Enchantress's minions arrive and kidnap her. With Waller compromised, Flag relieves the squad of the mission, but chooses to continue. Realizing they have an opportunity to prove themselves, they soon rejoin him and locate Enchantress and Waller at a partially flooded subway station. Lt. Edwards goes underwater to plant a bomb underneath Incubus while the others fight the Enchantress and her forces. El Diablo embraces his abilities and manages to hold Incubus down as the bomb goes off underneath, killing them both.
The squad members battle Enchantress together, but are ultimately defeated. Enchantress offers to fulfill their deepest desires in exchange for their allegiance, and Harley feigns interest in order to get close enough to cut out Enchantress's heart. Just after, Killer Croc throws explosives into the portal as Deadshot shoots them, closing the portal. Flag takes Enchantress's heart and crushes it, killing Enchantress and freeing June. The squad members are then returned to Belle Reve, but with ten years alleviated from their sentences and special privileges. Shortly afterward, the Joker, who survived the explosion, arrives with his men to rescue Harley. In a mid-credits scene, Waller meets with Bruce Wayne, who agrees to protect her from the backlash of Enchantress's rampage in exchange for access to the government's files on the expanding meta-human community, foreshadowing the events of Justice League.