With the current controversy surrounding the recent news of Warner Bros. studio executives getting a bit too hands-on with director David Ayer’s version of Suicide Squad, more details are starting to pop up. Reports are claiming that the test audience preferred the studio’s cut of the film over the director’s cut, for its lighter tone and incorporated humor, which is why Suicide Squad underwent extensive reshoots. Reviews are also starting to pile in and most of them are pretty unfavorable, leading to a furor that’s been reminiscent of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s release earlier this year. At this point, fans are wondering what version of the film actually made it up on the big screen.
Well, we may have an answer. Collider spoke with writer/director David Ayer at the press day for Suicide Squad, during which Ayer said the released movie is his cut, despite the many deleted scenes:
“But this cut of the movie is my cut, there’s no sort of parallel universe version of the movie, the released movie is my cut. And that’s one of the toughest things about writing, shooting, and directing a film, is you end up with these orphans and you fucking love them and you think they’d be amazing scenes and do these amazing things but the film is a dictatorship (laughs), not a democracy, and just because something’s cool and charismatic doesn’t mean it gets to survive in the final cut. The flow of the movie is the highest master.”
Ayer went on to explain the film’s multi-layered editing process, which he said people don’t quite understand:
“I think there’s a misunderstanding about filmmaking where you can somehow have this crystal ball and understand exactly how everything is going to work together and assemble together. Because remember scripts type word on a page, a black and white page, and when you’re on set you’re dealing with shots and you’re dealing with dailies, and so you have this 7-minute shot and maybe only 10 seconds of that shot is gonna end up in the movie. There’s infinite combinations, infinite knock-on effects, and it’s this strange alchemy that happens and things that you thought during the writing phase breaking your back trying to explain and needs three pages to explain it, you realize it works with just a look on camera in the assembly.”
A majority of the the film’s criticism has to do with how little some of the characters were shown on-screen, including Jared Leto’s Joker. Other than their introductions in the first half of the movie, some members of the squad didn’t get the chance to do anything else. Ayer explained just how difficult it was to handle every aspect of the movie, including juggling seven very different characters and a complicated storyline:
“It’s always a moving target as you try and distill and condense down to the best movie. And this thing was a beast, we had over a million and a half feet of footage, with an ensemble movie, 7 plus major characters that we have to introduce, a very complex story that is not your normal linear story and you’re introducing the audience to a whole new world, plus it just has my sort of sickness as a filmmaker in it, my vibe and attitude. So it just took a lot of work to find the movie, the movie was always there and even in the early cuts we knew we had something, we knew it was going to work, but to get it there…wow.”
In any case, Ayer is clearly standing behind his film and he seems quite satisfied with the final cut. Hopefully his comments will help audiences understand just how big of an undertaking it was to get Suicide Squad to the big screen. And with this confirmation of the final cut being Ayer’s vision and not the result of mishandling by the studio, maybe the uproar will start to quiet down a bit.
Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash and Batman solo movie are currently without release dates.