Both the heroes and villains of the upcoming DC Expanded Universe will get ample time in the limelight in 2016, due to the releases of Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and David Ayer's Suicide Squad. And while hype is sky high for The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel to do battle on the big screen, many are arguably more interested to see how the tale of evildoers banding together comes into fruition.
Thanks to its star-studded cast (including Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, and Will Smith) portraying a collection of fan-favorite characters, Suicide Squad quickly rose up the "most anticipated" lists and is seen as a vital cog in Warner Bros.' big plan. With its emphasis on the bad guys and gritty (even for WB/DC) tone, some are wondering how the film will fit in the larger shared universe. Suicide Squad producer Charles Roven recently opened up on the movie's inception and how Ayer's vision gelled with the studio's.
Speaking with Collider, Roven explained how it was Ayer's pitch that got the ball rolling. It was the director's passion and enthusiasm for the source material that impressed WB executives during their meeting, and Suicide Squad was quickly approved:
“He had a close relationship with [Warner Bros. executive] Greg Silverman and Greg said, ‘He’s got an idea on Suicide Squad, he wants to come in and pitch it.’ Having a guy like that who’s been able to—all of his films have had a certain level of groundedness to them, really feeling very richly real. And so having that sensibility, which is along the lines of what we were talking about earlier how we like to have things grounded in science or whatever, I was very anxious to hear what his take was gonna be on Suicide Squad and I was very happily surprised, but it was right exactly in the pocket that we were looking for. Honestly that movie was essentially greenlit in the pitch meeting.
"...So David was very fresh off the heels of a movie that he could show called Fury, which was a fabulous picture, and he was able to talk about these really—as he says ‘it can be fun to be bad’ and ‘just because they’re bad doesn’t mean they’re evil’, and so he was able to convince all of the actors that we went out to that he was gonna be able to make these characters so compelling that they would wanna be played more than once by these actors.”
The key element here is that not only was Ayer's idea for Suicide Squad appealing, it correlated with what WB wanted to do with the picture. Even though their shared universe is described as "filmmaker driven," the directors are not going to have free rein over their projects. Michelle MacLaren was going to helm the standalone Wonder Woman film before creative differences got in the way, so there still needs to be some balance between the filmmaker and the studio. The good news is that it sounds like Ayer and WB were on the same page from the start, and that ideally will lead to a strong film with rich, dynamic characters that everyone can't wait to see again and again.
Roven also addressed the nature of Suicide Squad's rating. After the San Diego Comic-Con 2015 trailer teased a movie that was a little more violent and dark than what viewers are accustomed to in this genre, there was some speculation that Suicide Squad could be an R-rated production. However, Roven says that like the rest of the films they're planning, it's going to be in that PG-13 wheelhouse:
“The intention of the film is definitely to be PG-13… We really want to make these films tonally consistent so that, as I said because this is a shared universe, at least our current thinking—and again, we’re not dealing in absolutes because while this is business it’s also a creative endeavor, so you want to leave yourself open to changing your mind, doing something different, being inspired, that’s the whole process of filmmaking is you have to allow for inspiration as well as having a road map for what you’re gonna do. So our plan right now is to make all these films PG-13. In some cases, you know, right there on the edge of PG-13, but still PG-13.”
Admittedly, Roven does leave the door open for a change, but the safe money is on PG-13. Unlike Twentieth Century Fox's more moderately budgeted Deadpool, the costs for Suicide Squad (minus marketing) are reportedly north of $100 million. WB obviously would like to maximize profits, and opening the film to as wide an audience as possible is the best way to do that. Considering they were on board with Ayer from the beginning, this shouldn't be an issue during post-production, and being on the edge of PG-13 (a la The Dark Knight) will deliver a compelling, hard-hitting tale.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 23, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern on June 19, 2020.