The DC Extended Universe remains a controversial corner of superhero fandom. Following mixed reactions to both Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, moviegoers were hopeful that David Ayer's antihero team-up movie, Suicide Squad, would offer a fun (and less divisive) palette cleanser - providing a temporary break from Zack Snyder's "deconstructionist" approach to the mainline foundation for Justice League and beyond. Instead, Warner Bros was met, again, with backlash from detractors and fans alike, ushering in the DCEU's biggest critical pounding thus far.
Personal tastes played a factor in the film's reception - as fans and critics debated smaller points: the movie's antagonist, tone, and Leto's depiction of the Joker, among others. However, like Batman V Superman before it, criticisms of the film's story were the loudest and most abundant. Initially, Ayer stood by the theatrical cut, suggesting that it was his director's cut - dismissing rumors that Warner Bros. had pressured the filmmaker to pare-down his version to be casual moviegoer-friendly.
Nevertheless, months later (after the film defied critics to become a major box office success for the studio), it was announced that Suicide Squad would follow in Batman V Superman's footsteps and receive an "Extended Cut" cut for home release - a revision that would restore 11 full minutes of previously deleted footage (read our entire breakdown of every change HERE). The Ultimate Edition of Batman V Superman was a marked improvement over the theatrical cut and now that the Suicide Squad Extended Cut is here, we ask (and answer) the obvious question: Is the Suicide Squad Extended Cut better than the theatrical cut?
NOTE: The following is not a revised Suicide Squad review (read our full Suicide Squad review), not a formal review of the Extended Cut, nor a review of home release special features or commentaries. The purpose of this post is to break down what the Extended Cut improves upon, and the potential drawbacks, as well as who is likely to enjoy the lengthier version.
Even though viewers remain divided on Batman V Superman, many felt as though the Ultimate Edition home release improved upon the theatrical version - and that the 3o minutes of additional footage wasn't just substantive, but essential to the story that Snyder set out to tell. The added and extended scenes didn't change the film's tone or how viewers might feel about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, but they did fill plot holes, round out characters arcs, and inject payoffs that, in the original release, were cut-short in favor of a tighter "casual moviegoer-friendly" version.
That is to say: for those who were willing to revisit Batman V Superman, and invest an extra 30 minutes, the end result was a much more coherent film. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Suicide Squad Extended Cut - which is, as the name suggests, an extended cut (in the traditional sense) rather than a significant, 'definitive' overhaul. What the Extended Cut offers is lengthier versions of existing scenes as well as a few "deleted" sequences that have been added back in. Most of the changes are cosmetic, providing a minor (albeit sometimes important) detail here or a new joke there, and all but the most invested viewers may have trouble noticing the difference.
The Extended Cut does little to improve upon certain shortcomings in the original film - and, given that several previously identified scenes from trailers and set photos (such as the Joker's appearance during the final showdown with Enchantress) are still not included, the home video release may leave fans unfulfilled - and hoping that Warner Bros. will unearth yet another version of Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad Extended Cut smooths some aspects but isn't a game-changer and isn't likely to change minds who already have an opinion on Ayer's film (good or bad). That said, while the extra 11 minutes of footage might have made a bloated cut as a theatrical release, the added scenes are a fun bonus for fans of DC and the Suicide Squad characters. Aside from smaller changes, the Extended Cut features significantly more conversation between Deadshot and Rick Flag - fleshing out their tenuous partnership a bit more as well as defining Deadshot's personal journey from hitman to antihero.
Similarly, Harley and Joker's relationship is more clearly defined - albeit not as much as some fans will want. The Extended Cut includes added dialogue between the pair during Joker's escape from Arkham Asylum (before he electrocutes Harley) as well as a completely new flashback sequence, previously revealed in leaked set photos, of Harley with a gun aimed at the Clown Prince of Crime. The scene, more than almost any other in the Extended Cut, will be a welcome addition - since the sequence charts a clearer thematic through-line for the pair. Harley takes a more active role in her relationship with the Joker, who rejects her devotion out of his own fears, only to accept that he doesn't want to live without her.
It's not the most layered depiction of their relationship, compared to some fan-favorite comic storylines, but the Extended Cut clarifies aspects of this version that were undercooked in the theatrical cut. Fans also get slightly more of Leto's Joker, in general; though, again, less than they may have been hoping to see - considering the amount of Leto Joker footage that Ayer allegedly shot.
The Extended Cut also gives each of the Squad members a bit more framing and screen time, including Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Diablo and Katana. Extras are small but the home release adds in a scene where the Squad, together, plans an escape from Flag, along with a sequence in which Harley attempts to psychoanalyze her teammates - offering viewers a bit more backstory or broad insight into each of the villains. In those moments, Ayer's interest in the characters, and the thematic notion of bad guys than can do some good, is clearer than it was before.
Sadly, fans will be disappointed to discover that several hoped-for scenes are not in the film. The Extended Cut doesn't provide any more Slipknot than what was seen in the theatrical release, doesn't feature a Captain Boomerang dream sequence before the final fight, nor does it include any further development for the movie's villains: Enchantress, Incubus, or Amanda Waller. Understandably, DC fans were hoping that Suicide Squad Extended Cut would deliver a definitive version - and one that, like Batman V Superman before it, might win-over a few vocal critics. Instead, the Extended Cut provides some worthwhile additions in certain places, while also making it apparent why Ayer and the studio opted to remove extemporaneous footage in others. For viewers who love these characters already, the Extended Cut is worth a watch - and delivers a few more laughs and details that fans will appreciate.
Nevertheless, it's more understandable than ever why Ayer suggested the theatrical cut is the Suicide Squad "Director's Cut". It is a sleeker version - where scenes, jokes, and action come fast, leaving little time to second-guess plot holes or track evolving character motivations. In that sense, some will still consider the theatrical cut to be the superior version of Suicide Squad - even if the Extended Cut becomes the preferred version for fans of DC and Ayer, alike.
The Suicide Squad Extended Cut runs 134 minutes and is Rated PG-13. It is now available for digital purchase, and on Blu-ray and DVD today.
Let us know what you thought of the Extended Cut in the comment section below or join our Suicide Squad Spoilers Discussion.
- Suicide Squad (2016) release date: Aug 05, 2016
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021