Director David Ayer isn’t shy anymore about expressing his displeasure with Hollywood which stems from his experience working on Suicide Squad. The leadership at Warner Bros. and DC fluctuated back then as much as it does today, as did their vision for DC on the big screen. They never had a consistent approach or structure, which we found out from former executive Diane Nelson.
Ayer was game to take on a new project, but he got caught in this fracas brought on by a sudden panic. He explained on Jon Bernthal’s podcast that Batman v Superman and Deadpool caused the studio to change course and overhaul the tone of Suicide Squad. Originally, it was going to be dark and soulful, but they worried that was a dead end.
“Hollywood — I tell people — is like watching someone you love get f–ked by someone you hate,” Ayer said to Bernthal. “The big one is Suicide Squad. That sh– broke me. That handed me my as-.” This was after being a director in demand. He went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in the span of two years.
“Come right off Fury, right? I had the town in my hand — could’ve done anything, and I did do anything,” he continued. “And [I] go on this journey with [Suicide Squad]. And the same thing — authentic, truthful, let’s do all the rehearsal, let’s really get in each other’s souls. Let’s create this amazing, collaborative thing, right? And then Deadpool opened, right?”
Ayer added, “They never tested Batman v. Superman, so they were expecting a different result, and then they got hammered by all the critics. Then it’s like, ‘Okay, we’re going to turn David Ayer’s dark, soulful movie into a f–king comedy now.’” It came to light later that his cut was not only much darker but longer by a reported 40 minutes.
The good news is, at least for proponents of the Ayer Cut, the disheartened director was encouraged by DC Studios co-president James Gunn. Despite shifting directions and revamping what is now called the DCU, and helming the follow-up to Suicide Squad, Gunn assured Ayer his film “would have its time to be shared.” Beyond this remark, however, its future is uncertain.
“All I know is my unseen film plays much better than the studio release,” Ayer wrote on X. “The interest in my cut being shown seems real and organic. And Gunn told me it would have [its] time to be shared. He absolutely deserves to launch his DC universe without more drama about old projects.”
He continued, “In a way, I’m chained to this thing. I’m riding a tiger here and navigating this situation the best I can. Life is a very strange journey.”
Critics were mixed – when they weren’t unkind – but as strange as it may seem, Suicide Squad was a hit, raking in $745.7 million worldwide. Gunn’s semi-sequel, in contrast, made $167 million globally.