Ask someone who proclaims themselves to be a movie 'buff' what it means when a movie goes into reshoots, and you may get a variety of answers. For those projects that seem to be going smoothly, it's an everyday practice to fill in shots, beats to clarify story, or ramp up the action. But for films that seem to have a troubled development - or take place in a shared universe being criticized - word of "reshoots" is treated as cause for concern (or a crisis being avoided). And such was the case with DC Films' Suicide Squad.
It was a unique situation, too: all word from the cast and crew seemed positive, highlighting the team's chemistry off-screen and director David Ayer's unique vision of DC's villains on-screen. Then Batman V Superman happened, planting a massive question mark in the future of the DCEU - an air of mystery and, in some cases, online cries for Zack Snyder's firing, if not outright imprisonment that even the Squad couldn't escape. But Ayer has once again explained why rumors that his film had been re-shaped as a result are nothing but gossip (just like the whole Jared Leto/Jason Todd theory).
The reports first surfaced, strangely, after the first trailer for the film arrived to delight fans, setting the movie's action to the tune of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (a style that has since defined the entire marketing campaign). Word from unnamed sources was the the trailer actually wasn't at all indicative of the actual movie, with every one of the film's jokes contained within it. As a result of the positive spin - and in the midst of BvS criticism for being "too dark" - the studio ordered reshoots to amplify the lighter comedy, adding jokes and character moments... or so the rumor said.
The director and cast members soon brushed off those reports, claiming the reshoots were mainly due to an increased budget for the action scenes, with Warner Bros. receiving the first cut so positively. But the story took on a life of its own, framed both negatively and positively by those disappointed with Dawn of Justice, as either further proof the DCEU was doomed, or evidence the studio wasn't making the same mistake twice. Still, the reports themselves seemed hard to decipher.
For starters, WB's decision to release a trailer that was "not at all indicative" of Suicide Squad is far from a wise decision even when fans are supporting you. Even stranger that the amped-up, energetic trailer was a far cry from the darker, moodier sizzle reel so warmly received at Comic-Con 2015 (which the studio nor Ayer wanted released to the public). And if true, the trailers released since - containing more unseen jokes and lighter moments - would imply that all those reshoot moments have been spoiled as well (hopefully not the case).
So when asked by Miami's WSVN-TV during Comic-Con 2016 whether there was truth to the rumor that reshoots - not marketing - had added more jokes and humor, Ayer refuted it based on the practicality alone:
"I don't think you can do that. You know? Because it's like, what, you got a scene and then all of a sudden dudes are cracking jokes, and then you're back into the old scene? It doesn't work like that. The movie was always funny. The movie was always a lot of fun. And, you know, the studio just gave me more resources to make it even better."
It's a fair point, and for the most part Ayer seems to be offering the same explanation he did when the rumor first broke. Keeping in mind that during our set visit back in July 2015 - a full eight months before the rumor was first reported - the comedy, improvisation and humor inherent to the story was already being praised by the producers and cast. At the time, Ayer outright stated that after the Comic-Con sizzle trailer, fans wouldn't expect Suicide Squad to be as much fun as it was shaping up to be:
"I think the best movies are the ones that can make you double over in laughter and cry. Which I hope this will do for the audience. I think people will be really surprised by how much humor is in the movie. But at the same time, it’s honest, situational, character-based humor versus like, the low hanging fruit, You know? You really believe it, it’s really germane to these characters."
Hopefully, his final dismissal is all that's needed - and comic book fans can just get excited at seeing his twisted vision brought to life.
Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman is slated for release on June 2, 2017; followed by 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 is without release date.