EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros and DC have chosen Gavin O’Connor to direct Suicide Squad 2, the sequel to the hit that will bring back Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and the rest of the gang of villains. The decision was made today. O’Connor most recently directed the hit The Accountant for the studio, and he is working on a sequel with Ben Affleck.

Suicide Squad

Warner Bros.

Pending the final signing of the deal, this ends a lengthy search by the studio to replace David Ayer, who wrote and directed the original but moved aside to focus on Gotham City Sirens, one of the DC spinoff movies built around Robbie’s Harley Quinn character.

O’Connor came in and pitched his vision of the movie, and he will write that with scripting partner Anthony Tambakis. Warner Bros has eyed strong action directors like Mel Gibson and then had its sights set on Jaume Collet-Serra, who became unavailable when he agreed to direct Dwayne Johnson in the Disney film Jungle Cruise.

This is a big job, directing the next installment of the 2016 Warner Bros DC film that grossed $745 million worldwide. The first film was  about a group of incorrigible jailbirds with special skills who were conscripted to fight terrible villains with the idea the heroes were expendable. The first film wasn’t a favorite of the fanboy crowd, but it was a big global financial hit for the studio that left no doubt of future installments.

O’Connor has mixed emotion and muscular action in films that include Warrior, the underrated film that starred Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte, as well as Pride And Glory, Miracle and his breakout indie Tumbleweeds.

Warner Bros has been moving quickly to diversify its cinematic universe. The studio set its The Hangover director Todd Phillips to direct Scott Silver’s script for a spinoff on the Batman villain The Joker, and then set John Requa and Glenn Ficarra to direct a separate spinoff for Leto’s Joker character and his demented lover Harley Quinn.

O’Connor is repped by WME and Morris Yorn Barnes.