David Ayer's Suicide Squad may have been (and or many, still is) one of the most anticipated films of this year. But it didn't take long for most critical voices to proclaim that it simply isn't any good (read our review). Since then, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has expressed her confusion over the critical response to a movie she loved, and comic book superfan Kevin Smith heaped praise on Squad after seeing it for himself. But it's too late to change the conversation surrounding the release, which means Ayer and his cast have only one choice: be proud of the work they turned in.
To that end, Ayer has stated that regardless of reshoots, deleted scenes, or rumors of studio interference, the cut of the film that hit theaters is the one he's claiming as his own. On the cast's part, they've offered the normal clarification that they didn't make the film to please critics - and are looking forward to "the fans getting a vote."
Ayer wants fans to know that he made the film for them, meaning they'll be the ones who decide whether he deserves praise, or punishment - a stance he reiterated when we caught up with him at the movie's premiere:
"They may maul me. I might be dead after this. I don’t know. You know, I am a fan. I made the movie for fans, but if you put your heart into it, and you know, I think like a fan. So I know what pisses me off, and so I try not to do the things that piss me off. I tried to do the things that I thought fans would like, and I had Geoff Johns to work with who is a great guy. I mean he is really the keyholder to this whole universe right now. But you know, I tried my best. Judgment is coming."
Criticism of the film has ranged across the board, from valid criticisms voiced by many to... less convincing objections that may apply to comic book movies as a whole. There are few who are stepping forward to proclaim the film Ayer's 'masterpiece,' but the director maintains that with Suicide Squad, he strived to make an unconventional, character-focused, big-budget, comic book blockbuster:
"I feel like in comic book movies sometimes the actors get lost in the set pieces and action and they disappear a little bit into the chaos…for me characters are number one. So my actors had to become best friends as quick as possible…They have to play the worst of enemies that become the best of friends. You know they are these bad guys, but with good hearts."
What's made the reviews particularly surprising was the acclaim Ayer was receiving from his cast members throughout the production - and actors deciding to get matching tattoos to commemorate a shoot isn't exactly common. Jai Courtney and Margot Robbie have already explained how Ayer's body of work and approach changed their opinions of what comic book movies could be, and at the premiere, Will Smith revealed the confidence he placed in Ayer's hands from the start... and who may ultimately have the say on any potential sequels:
"I took with movie without a screenplay—based on how much I love his work. He’s the truth... Anything is possible, you know. Everything is on the table right now. Let’s see how the fans react to this movie. Let’s see how they feel about it, and if they ask for more, let’s figure it out."
Those hopeful words are already carrying serious weight, with the preview showings for Suicide Squad breaking records already. Ayer already seemed less enthusiastic, joking that he "was kind of hoping I was rid of it now, but anything is possible."
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.