2016’s Suicide Squad was one of the biggest disappointments of the year. It was a film I was very excited about as I enjoy the idea of the good guys being the bad guys. Sadly, it wasn’t a good film, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn being perhaps it’s best feature, which has lead to Robbie reprising the role for Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Director David Ayer though is now pushing for the film to be released the way he had originally intended – The Ayer Cut.
The Lost Forty Minutes
The Ayer Cut comes hot on the heels of the Snyder Cut of Justice League, the DC film originally directed by Zack Snyder who was replaced by Joss Whedon after a family tragedy for Snyder. Fans campaigned for a version they believed was closer to what Snyder had envisioned and were successful. Ayer now wants the same for Suicide Squad. Ayer has said forty minutes of his film was cut by the studio which would surely have an impact on any film. Studios insisting on their own edits of films is nothing new – sci-fi classic Blade Runner had voiceover added that completely changed central parts of the film, leading to a slew of other “cuts” that better represented what director Ridley Scott had in mind.
What was wrong with Suicide Squad?
Suicide Squad was unpopular with both critics and fans (but there are those who champion the film, or at least parts of it) and the film had many problems.
- The Joker – while not a pivotal character in the film Jared Leto’s portrayal still managed to attract a lot of disdain with few people enjoying it. While I didn’t care for it I didn’t judge Leto or Ayer too harshly, following in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger’s legendary performances they needed to make a distinctive Joker – it didn’t work but at least they tried.
- The Characters – When you have a large ensemble cast you run the risk of no character having enough time and this certainly felt true of Suicide Squad. The introduction of every character felt rushed and bare bones and I didn’t really care about any of the characters. There were characters like Katana who just seemed to be there – another person to fill out the cast without serving any purpose (despite having an interesting character premise).
- The Villain -I am a firm believer in that the secret of success for many comic book films is the villain. The Dark Knight had Heath Ledger’s Joker, Black Panther had Michael B. Jordan’s Eric Killmonger, after a lacklustre villain in Red Skull having Robert Redford play Alexander Pierce in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a stroke of genius. Suicide Squad had a witch…or her brother, and her brother? The film was always going to be in a tricky place with a villain as the whole point is they’re the villains but undoubtedly the forgettable villain they had wasn’t good enough.
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad
Of course, this battle is yet to be resolved on the horizon is the release of The Suicide Squad. How will The Ayer Cut effect this? I doubt it will at all. It seems most people have simply written off Suicide Squad as a mistake, the Ayer Cut is at most a chance to show there was a good film there. The success or failure of The Ayer Cut will not matter and I doubt would have any impact on the already inconsistent DCEU.
Will It Happen?
If the fans get behind the idea it probably will. The Snyder Cut really did show that fans have the power to get alternate cuts released and there’s no reason to give up that power. Whilst in this instance it’s being done under the impetus of the director, it’s important to remember that fans don’t always know best, for years there was a Kickstarter campaign to edit Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, specifically to digitally remove the rat that appears in the final scene. Whether or not you feel this was a bad decision by Scorsese I think you need to essentially trust a director on their decisions.
Before we all start clamouring for new cuts of films we feel could have been improved, remember Star Wars is a prime example of that sometimes it’s just better to leave things alone and that you can never please all of the fans.
Also Read: Flashpoint: The Defining Film of the DCEU