You know the old saying, that the first person through the glass is the one who gets bloodied? Well, that theory may be in practice with the coming release of Suicide Squad, the film (perhaps unfairly) saddled with not only changing up the formula of the modern comic book blockbuster, but changing the conversation surrounding the DC Extended Universe as a whole. While Batman V Superman divided critics (and to a lesser extent, fans), David Ayer's tale of 'bad vs. evil' was hoped to set things right.
So far, the early reviews have skewed to the negative side of the scale, with even positive reviews highlighting some aspects of the film that didn't add up in the way the studio or director may have hoped. At this point, it's no surprise given the critical response to the shared universe's first films, but with some reviews proclaiming Suicide Squad to be a complete failure of storytelling, the director of the film has offered his first response.
Well, less of a response, and more of a philosophical statement in response to the already amplified-by-fans-and-trolls sentiments. They run a wide variety, too, with some claiming that Suicide Squad may be darker than the film's energetic trailers may have implied (not surprising, given Ayer's past films), while others feel that Jared Leto's Joker is more strange and unimportant than groundbreaking. Without naming names, and with his maintained dedication to 'doing right by the fans' coloring nearly all of his statements on his hopes for the movie, Ayer offered the following not long after review embargoes broke:
Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas - Emiliano Zapata
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) August 2, 2016
For those who may not know, the above line is a rather famous quote attributed to Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, meaning "I'd prefer to die standing, than to live on my knees." The context is clearly different here, but the sentiment being driven at by Ayer is obvious: it's better to risk it all for a cause you're proud of, than to play by the rules set by others.
While the line applies to his central cast of so-called 'villains' setting out to ask the question of whether anyone is defined by their worst decision, moment, or action, it's also a fitting statement from Ayer in the light of such harsh words, or total dismissal of his attempt to break the boundaries of the modern comic book movie. In other words, be willing to take a stand in a genre that he has publicly described as stagnant, in need of something new and different, or simply not giving fans what they want/deserve - and do so knowing that fighting against the current will rub many the wrong way.
Obviously, these words won't do much to change the opinions of those who feel the film missed the mark it set out for, not the ways in which it differs from other comic book movie fare. But that's a conversation that will have to wait until fans, skeptics, and casual moviegoers are able to see the film and decide its failures or successes for themselves. But one thing is for sure: the cry for different comic movies coming from fans, if not critics or broad audiences, has been heard by some. Ayer made the decision to do right by fans - not critics - one of his key talking points when asked about the Squad, and some fan-focused movie sites have clearly responded to his adaptation.
Zapata quote is my way of saying I love the movie and believe in it. Made it for the fans. Best experience of my life. ❤️
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) August 2, 2016
It may be too soon for the conversation to shift to the subject of whether it's worth missing the mark, if the bullseye aimed for is hoping to open up new possibilities for the genre as a whole. Or, at the very least, to simply 'be different.' Again, that won't brush aside decisions made by Ayer that are worthy of criticism, but with the rampant enthusiasm and pride shown by the cast, to reports that Ayer was given "total control" by Warner Bros., his claim of being allowed to decide his own fate rings true. And with movies coming from multiple studios seeking to try something new in the comic genre, being the first to take the full brunt of the impact might be worth some respect, if nothing else.
What's your take? Do you admire a director standing behind his vision - and being given the freedom to do so... or be forced to by the studio? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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.
Source: David Ayer