[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Suicide Squad and its Extended Cut.]
The critics may have been harsh with the DCEU villain adventure, but one thing is for sure: the marketing campaign for Suicide Squad was next-level, with some of the most crowd-pleasing trailers in recent memory. The box office made bank on that hype, but for those disappointed by the movie, the theatrical cut wasn’t exactly the film being advertised. The recent changes made for the longer Extended Cut addressed some of the concerns, but the fact remains: the Suicide Squad trailers contained plenty of footage that simply never made it in the finished film.
There’s a conversation to be had in the wake of the film (and several others) concerning the studio’s responsibility to market the movie audiences will actually be seeing, and restrict their trailer footage to reflect it. But first, we need to run down the actual shots, moments, and scenes that were either changed, edited for length, or abandoned completely – and an possible explanation or theory of our own.
While a lot of these scenes aren’t full “scenes,” they’re minor additions to scenes that were included in the final film (and the Extended Cut), be they memorable moments good enough for trailers but not the movie, or scenes that are still nowhere to be found.
19. The Joker Takes It In
For all the hesitation over Jared Leto’s Joker – be it tattoos, metallic teeth, or ‘gangster’ style – the reveal of the villain in motion convinced many that it would be worth seeing for themselves. Much of that hinged on his delivery of his intention to hurt Dr. Harleen Quinzel “really, really bad,” but the snippets taken from that same sequence popped up across the marketing. In one trailer’s onslaught of action-packed shots and explosive stunts, it fell to the Joker to let out a breath of astonishment, spreading his arms wide in the process.
It was as interesting as any other moment of the Joker, since it promised two things: that his scenes might actually offer a reprieve from the action and oddball comedy of the Squad members themselves, and that Leto’s Joker was as likely to be fascinating as he was off-putting. Since the finished version of the scene was brief, and the extended version only slightly longer, fans never got to see what or why caused Joker to take a moment’s pause. It works as a punctuating moment in a trailer, but didn’t amount to anything in the final cut… and that’s a refrain we’re going to hear pretty often in our list.
18. Joker’s Finger Wag
It’s shots like these that were, in hindsight, guilty of suggesting that the Joker’s role in the film would be more significant– or at the very least, more varied in terms of locations and circumstances. Wearing a previously unseen purple leather jacket, and implied to be in a conversation with somebody, audiences were curious to know who it was on the receiving end of Joker’s finger wag. It also earned a place on the list of ‘most gif-able moments’ from Suicide Squad trailers overnight, and who could blame the online fans? It was the kind of measured, yet playful detail the most optimistic were led to believe that Leto’s Joker would be practicing in every scene.
Now that footage of the film’s production from behind the scenes has been released, the truth has revealed itself. This moment was intended to be the close of the same electrocution scene, as Joker’s henchmen place the gang boss’ jacket around his shoulder, before Jonny Frost goes to put a bullet in Dr. Quinzel. Joker makes the famous spin, instructing Frost to leave her be – possibly planting the first evidence that a) Harley believes Joker actually cares for her, and b) that, well, he actually does. In the finished cut, the scene is simply one of a quickly-cut blur of surreal scenes focused on Harley and Joker.
17. Biblical Metahumans
It isn’t just memorable moments or quirks that made the trailer only to be cast aside for the theatrical and extended cuts, but entire lines of dialogue – or, in this case, entire elements of DCEU mythology. In an early trailer, Amanda Waller doesn’t just rely on threats of a terrorist Superman, or a world war fought with metahumans to push her Task Force X proposal into motion, but The Bible. She singles out two stories: that of Samson, the man strong enough to bring a stone temple down with his bare hands, and “the weapon of mass destruction” known as Goliath.
Connecting the dots, it seems that Amanda Waller is suggesting that metahumans may not be as new to the world as one might think. Whether she is postulating that these Biblical stories are chronicling the rise of earlier metahumans (tying in to Lex Luthor’s “Metahuman Thesis” in Batman V Superman) or simply using them for effect, it’s an interesting wrinkle. The stories are two cases of a single person, blessed with above-average strength who helped make history, one way or another – adding a lot more meaning to Deadshot’s later claim that their assault on Enchantress will be “like a chapter in The Bible. Everyone’s going to know what we did.”
16. Enchantress Wants To Have Fun
How much can be suggested about a character or subplot in a single line of dialogue? As one example, we would point to the unforgettable line delivered by Enchantress during the same meeting among the U.S. military’s chief minds. The shot in question shows more of Enchantress’ actual costume than most of her other scenes, as the villain playfully toys with a piece of her costume and urges those present to “do something fun.” The tone of the final scene is so serious and chilling, it’s almost hard to imagine when or where this shot would fit.
The unexpected laugh in the scene may offer a clue. After performing the task demanded of her by Waller, Enchantress idly runs her fingers over a One-Star Admiral, who replies with a terse but humorous “don’t touch me. Please don’t touch me.” It would make sense for that to be the start of Enchantress showing some of her personality, followed by her desire to do something far more interesting than fetching a piece of intelligence. In the end, it reinforced the notion of a lighthearted, oddball comedy – and since that wasn’t the real tone of the movie, it was cut in the finished version.
15. Flag & June
Before fans even knew just how June Moon/Enchantress would be factoring into the story – a member of the Squad? The main villain? – they were thrown a bit of a curveball by the above shot, in which the de-powered June Moon shares an intimate moment with Colonel Rick Flag. Now if she were the one initiating the contact, then it would have been read as a possible move to seduce… which is pretty believable, given that a succubus is possessing her. But it’s Flag pressing June, which implied a romantic relationship between the two.
That was obviously the case, but the scene – one of the only ones which would have shown some form of intimacy between June and Rick – was cut. Judging by the background of the scene and wardrobe, we assume this shot comes not long after the scene of Rick and June discussing the Squad members, and before Rick has his standoff with Amanda Waller. That exchange is most memorable for Waller’s turn to total manipulation, letting Flag know that if he leaves, June will be held as a test subject; had we just seen the two share a human moment, that threat could have carried even more weight.
14. Reading The Dossiers
Doubling down on the Flag/Moon interactions, there’s also the scene in which Flag peruses the files related to the actual criminals Waller has selected for her task force. While the actual glimpse of the scene was brief, Flag’s voice-over described the motley crew as he saw them: an assassin who shoots people, a crocodile-man who eats people, a guy who burns people, June’s possessed by a witch, and Harley Quinn is… well, just crazy. They’re catchy lines to lay over introduction shots of each member, but since the movie relies quite heavily on Flag’s changing relationship and view of these “criminals,” any insight into how he sees them going in would be welcome.
What’s more, we don’t know what June is up to, tending to the back of Flag’s head for who knows what reason. If it’s simply showing her affection, that would have developed the same idea mentioned previously. The scene likely takes place before the pair’s kiss, but the fact that this scene was typically shown with Flag mentioning June Moon’s possession – with audio and context that didn’t quite fit – we don’t even know where that line of dialogue was originally placed.
13. Joker’s Toys
It wasn’t just added character moments or plot-impacting dialogue between the principal cast that got cut out to make the film’s running time, but some easter eggs and references, too. In order to establish communication between himself and Harley, Joker turns to Alpha-01, the top guard at Belle Reve. He does so through a middle man, with the operator of an underground casino bringing the guard in for money owed, and letting Joker extract the information he wants.
The exchange doesn’t take long, with Joker demanding that his ring be kissed, followed immediately by the claim that the prison guard is “going to be [his] friend.” That seems to be the end of it, along with the implied pain coming to the guard once Joker, presumably, finds out just how much pain he inflicted on Harley. But in the trailers, the added moment of Joker informing his prey that he couldn’t wait to “show him [his] toys” implied that torture was in store, while also making a clear nod to Jack Nicholson’s famous “wonderful toys” line from Tim Burton’s Batman.
The character who is next most affected by the Extended Cut is Will Smith’s Deadshot, as his personal mission to return to his daughter, and coming to grips with the notion of ‘love’ is developed in a number of short scenes.
12. The Wink
For all the tortured smiles that Margot Robbie brought to the character of Harley Quinn – and some added psychoanalysis in the Extended Cut – there was one other department she excelled in: trailer-worthy ‘button’ moments. Typically used to punch up key moments in the trailer, or conclude with a quip or two, most of her actual jokes and one-liners made it into the finished film. The small, split-second bits of personality… didn’t.
The first one we encounter is the wink she throws to Deadshot aboard the helicopter, used in multiple trailers and TV spots. In the final film we got the added context: Joker has just sent her a text letting her know to be ready for extraction. When Deadshot spots the message and looks to Harley for some explanation, Harley responds not with a wink, but a finger pressed to her lips and a “shhh…” The decision was obviously made to spell out the coming twist for audiences, but when an alternate take was used so generously, viewers are more likely to notice it not being there.
11. Harley’s Gunshot
Another unforgettable moment courtesy of Harley Quinn that didn’t actually make it into the finished cut for… some reason. As the Squad is picking their way through the half-destroyed Midway City, taking in the sights of melted cars and burning rubble, Harley puts her bat to a new use. Swinging it up and taking aim as if it were a shotgun, she chambers a round, and fires it. We don’t know what she’s aiming at, what gave her the idea, or what significance it’s meant to carry in any larger sense.
And we never will, since it fails to appear in either version of the movie, despite being used to set a darkly comic mood in the very first sizzle reel for San Diego Comic-Con. Heck, it became such a well-known moment, it was even used in the music video for Twenty One Pilots’ “Heathens,” which appeared on the film’s soundtrack.
10. Harley’s Impressed
It’s made clear early on in the film that there isn’t much that could truly shock or scare the members of the Suicide Squad. Whether that’s due to their superpowers, their honed skills, or simply their insanity, they’re the kind of group who would go into a battle with an ancient god and think only of what they’re going to do with their night should they live to see it. Harley Quinn takes in the mission with more wonderment than the rest, beginning with the light show seen in the helicopter taking them into Midway.
There’s another example of her wide-eyed enjoyment of this new show seen in the trailer, as the entire cast stands shoulder to shoulder looking at… something. Whatever it is, Harley isn’t frightened or worried, but simply impressed, letting out a long “whoaaaaa!” The line was used to deflate the impression of a dark, dour plotline in marketing, showing fans that the mission would never be taken too seriously by those actually in it. While that remains true, this moment seems a shame to cut out, based on endearment-levels alone.
9. Katana’s Soultaker
You can’t accuse Suicide Squad of not explaining the real mythology behind the character of Katana, even though the heroine has a criminally small role in the proceedings. Rick Flag delivers the basic premise of her torment and magical weapon first when she arrives for the mission, and later as they prepare for their final assault. Her story of loss is a heartbreaking one, but it’s the mysticism and magic behind her sword, Soultaker, that fans were most interested to see adapted to film – and the marketing implied the director was going all-in, thanks to a shot of Katana drawing her blade through the air over her head, as a wave of skulls appeared alongside the blade.
True to its name, those skulls were taken to be representations of the souls the sword had claimed from its victims. The actual ways in which Katana can interact with said spirits, or how or why they would make themselves known isn’t exactly set in stone. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t even offer an interpretation of the comic book mythology, since the shot is nowhere to be found. It may be tied into the larger Katana subplot shown in marketing, but we’ll get into the specifics soon enough.
8. Harley’s Hair-Blow
We agree: this is getting downright criminal. First there was the moment Harley fired her bat like a shotgun, then the playful wink that never even happened – and finally, the other moment filmed in the midst of an out of control action sequence that seemed much, much, much too good to leave out of the finished movie. But the moment of Harley taking a beat as guns fired into monstrous footsoldiers around her, glancing at her out-of-place hair, and giving it a determined blow to remove it from her face was, predictably, also left on the cutting room floor.
It’s hard to know why these moments which worked so well in trailers weren’t simply left in the theatrical or extended cut, since they amount of just a handful of seconds. The only real explanation is that the trailer was simply relying on all footage and takes available to them, and wound up picking the moments that, while powerful on their own, didn’t all combine into the story director David Ayer was hoping to tell. Since Harley was already the breakout favorite of the film, maybe the added emphasis on her in every scene or sequence tipped the scales in the editing room? We’ll never know.
7. Team Flag Fistbump
It isn’t just the stars of the film who saw their punctuated exchanges or character choices used to promote the movie, then tossed aside like spent ammunition. No, that honor also fell on actors Scott Eastwood and Alex Meraz, playing ‘GQ’ and ‘Gomez’ respectively. Neither character is given much of the spotlight in the actual film, since Flag is the one calling the shots from the moment the mission begins, but the trailer suggested otherwise. At least, the moment showing the two soldiers giving an appreciative fistbump did.
Again, we don’t know exactly when or where said fistbump would have taken place, but it nevertheless implied that Flag’s men would be some part of the plot, even if it was only to acknowledge the badass behavior of the Suicide Squad along with the audience. Yet the fists remained unbumped, and viewers may never know just what it was that caused these bros to bro-down openly in front of their commanding officer.
6. Enchantress’ Original Army?
This one is a bit more interesting than the other footage, scenes, or lines of dialogue exchanged in the trailers, since it suggests a final act which is actually fairly different from what audiences got. For starters, there’s no villain to be seen in front of the pulsing beam of green, not blue light/energy. The most curious feature is the assembled henchmen gathered around the beam. They’re a far cry from the dark, eye-covered monsters seen in the movie, and what’s more, none of those footsoldiers were even present at this location in the theatrical version.
So, who are these oddly-shaped beings covered in glowing stripes? Just how different are these villains and this world-ending machine from the versions fans saw in the finished movie? Again, these might all be questions directed at an early version of the story that was changed for any number of reasons (the sizzle reel was released quite early in production, and before post could be totally completed). The answers are likely a long way away, leaving us to consider why Harley and the Squad felt comfortable strolling up to this lethal light show.
5. June Lets Her Hair Down
Building off the earlier scenes depicting Rick Flag and June Moon living together and enjoying each other’s company instead of simply telling the audience that they were in love, we have the above shot. Depicting June Moon as the happiest she’s ever seen in the movie, the shot suggested that June, and therefore her dynamic with the powerful witch Enchantress, was going to be explored before she finally flipped to the dark side and gave our heroes a monster to slay.
That wasn’t the case, since this shot of June playfully tossing her head to the side – likely set in her and Rick’s hotel room before she falls asleep, transforms, and frees her brother – was scrapped. Either that, or it’s intended to appear in the third act fantasy sequence of Rick’s dreams coming true. The Rick/June story was cut down for length, but fans would probably have appreciated seeing as much of the happy couple as possible, driving home Enchantress’ vision of June dying in front of Rick, if nothing else.
4. Katana is Possessed?
At this point we wish that we had gotten some kind of insight into what role Katana was originally going to play, and how her sword would introduce new magical elements to the final battle, or grant her unique abilities when facing Enchantress’ sorcery firsthand. The shot of Katana’s rippling Soultaker can be made sense of by anyone who has read her comic origins or adventures, but seeing her eyes turn from white to black is a different matter entirely.
Early on, it seemed that such a twist might arrive when Katana was communing with the spirits in her sword – her husband, for instance – but the movie doesn’t leave many lingering plot threads or unanswered questions that would make a seance scene fit. On the other hand, combining this shot of Katana’s eyes – flashing to black, a traditional sign of demonic possession – with other snippets in the trailer suggests a different third act… one that would also explain why the Squad wouldn’t be fighting the Incubus the moment they arrived at Enchantress’ hideout.
3. Friendly Fire?
As further evidence supporting the idea that Katana was going to be turned against the rest of the Squad, there’s the above shot of Killer Croc, unleashing himself upon the Japanese swordstress. Either that, or Killer Croc was expected to turn on his teammates in the final act (when he had been de-shirted during the bomb deployment). Since Croc would have gone through the team-bonding bar scene by this point, we’re putting our money on Katana.
This shot seems closest to the actual third act showdown in the finished movie, when Croc arrives in the nick of time to grab hold of Enchantress, and deliver one of the only actual blows the Squad can muster. So, what would explain Katana being seemingly possessed by an unknown entity, and forced to fight against the prisoners she had been charged with leading and keeping in line? For that, we’ll need to head to our next shot appearing in the trailers that was erased altogether in the final versions…
2. Katana Gets Tentacled, Turned?
It’s important to pay attention to the green tentacle stretching from off-screen to what looks to be Katana’s temple, glowing with the same signature energy as the Enchantress. Also worth noting is Katana’s flailing katana, and Harley Quinn nearby stepping back to avoid the strike. It’s a strange shot considering how much it seems to reveal, which is why we were surprised to see it appear in trailers so quickly. And when there was no sign of it in the movie whatsoever, it became clear that some significant rewrites had taken place – either after the above sequence had been plotted, filmed, and spliced into marketing, or before, and the trailer team just felt it was too visually engaging a shot to toss.
In the movie, you can see Amanda Waller being probed by a similar form of tentacle, understood to be a tool of the Enchantress to crack into Waller’s brain and extract the coordinates and codes needed to funnel her machine’s deadly energies into American satellites. So, was a similar invasion of the psyche planned here, too? If Enchantress were to turn the Squad’s most deadly fighter against the rest with the help of a mind-control tentacle, we doubt fans would complain. Since it would have given Katana even more respect and strayed from the predictable villain/henchman/death machine trope. Then again, seeing Katana go to war alongside the Squad was satisfying, too.
1. The Joker’s Grenade Exit
Continuing on our suspicion that the end of Suicide Squad may have been smaller in scale, eventually boosted by Warner Bros. in the form of more action-focused reshoots – which was basically exactly the account given by David Ayer – the emergence of the Joker needs to be mentioned. In the movie, Joker winds up accidentally tossed backward into a burning, crashing helicopter as his love drops to safety. Presumed dead, Harley soldiers on until she is once again rescued by her “Puddin'” with the help of an explosive powerful enough to shatter the walls of Belle Reve, and gunmen to take out the security.
The moment between Harley and Joker is what actually ends the film, but the above shots of Joker returning to the train station (the final set piece), then making his exit with help from a smoke grenade imply a very different ending. We’re assuming that Joker wouldn’t have come strolling in during the battle with Enchantress, or immediately afterward. Our speculation? Joker’s return from the grave and hasty retreat was a part of the original ending – so it seems likely that the bigger, badder final fight was as much an addition as the final explosive breakout sequence. But until the filmmakers clear the air in terms of what changed and what didn’t, your guess is as good as ours.
So there you have it, every joke, shot, potentially plot-altering scene and memorable moment advertised in trailers, but never shown to mass audiences. Let us know what you think of their omission (or inclusion in marketing) and which moments should have made it into the theatrical version in the comments below.
Suicide Squad and its Extended Cut are available for digital streaming and download now, with a Blu-ray release coming December 13, 2016.