The most mind boggling thing about the Suicide Squad debacle probably came when we learned that the film would be PG-13. After the rock and roll trailer from the Comic Con, the hardcore sexual characterization, the incredible violence on display, and possibly even the choice of director it seemed logical to expect an R-rating. The subject matter alone pushed the envelope.
Now it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a $250 million dollar (after reshoots) comic book film would get that very ordinary rating. But when a movie sells such a gristly concept, and then pulls the rug out someone really should call foul. And Jared Leto, one of the stars of the film has done so.
One could argue Leto is the most high profile selling point of the film other than Margot Robbie who plays the Joker’s girlfriend in the film. Right? That is why he closed out the original trailer? It wasn’t supposed to be a cameo. If it were why put it so front and center? Is it because the studio got cold feet over the content? We just don’t have the information to make that assertion but what we can say is that there is plenty of precedent for R-rated comic book films. And mind you this IS NOT a “superhero” film; this is a movie about the villains. Leto is puzzled by this lack of self-awareness, apparently, from the studio. Leto: “I always wished this film was rated R, and I had actually said that when we were starting. It felt like if a film was ever going to be rated R it should be the one about the villains,” he said.
He’s right. But the plot thickens. According to Leto, his ten minutes of screen time actually represented a crap load more footage that was left on the cutting room floor. Like…he implies hours of cinema was filmed. And the question swirling around now has to be, how much more or less Joker was there in the David Ayer cut of the film OF WHICH the test screenings received good reviews on Twitter back in May.
If you didn’t follow the rumor about Suicide Squad apparently what happened was after the release of Batman v. Superman Warner Brothers freaked out because the movie wasn’t a hit and took Suicide Squad away from David Ayer and cut their own film which was then released in the process alienating Ayer and sending him banging around to different talent agencies, dropping his representation, picking it up again, and getting fired from future projects at Warner Brothers.
So what seems to be the main issue now is whether or not Ayer’s cut of the film tested well or not (article linked to suggests it did very well, but I’ve read other stories saying that it did not), before DC decided to send the footage over to the same company that cut…and here things get vague again…ONE OF the trailers for Suicide Squad. Right? So the studio, WB, claims that the Ayer cut shown in May did not have the “fun and irreverant” feeling of the “first trailer,” but as we all remember the first trailer for Suicide Squad was the incredibly awesome Comic Con trailer that was not “fun” at all. In fact it was gritty, nihilistic, and the darkest trailer maybe I have ever seen.
So did they hire the company that cut that particular trailer or did they hire the company that cut the second trailer with the Queen music? Because that trailer, in my eyes, was goofy and stupid and not comic book at all. It was just bad. Is that who they got to cut the new film? The Queen trailer, soda pop commercial in a bad way, people?
I don’t want to get into all of the different stories that were zooming back and forth about the behind the scenes eye gouging that went on with Suicide Squad. To me, since the movie did well over the weekend IN SPITE of poor reviews, and bad press, it shows that Ayer should have been allowed to cut the movie the way he wanted, SINCE, at the end of the day, it turned out not to matter at all what the critics said beforehand. You see what I mean?
Suicide Squad was sold very well on the strength of all of its trailers, and the movie did great business over the weekend. But the cut that the studio went with was a critical abortion, almost across the board.
Now there are people who can decry Rotten Tomatoes. I am one of those people. But even I have to look at the abysmal reviews that Suicide Squad received by pretty much every reputable source in the mainstream media and say: something isn’t right here.
So Ayer’s version of the film though, whether or not it was good or bad, it didn’t end up mattering. That’s point one. The movie has made box office. And whether or not it reaches the allegedly 750-800 million it needs to break even is all speculation now. But could Ayer’s version of the film really been much worse than what was unleashed on audiences last Thursday evening? I am of the opinion that it was probably a damn sight better. And how do I know this? Because of the reshoots (of which there were several rounds…but linked to May 31st, 2016) that I’ve read about and the film we apparently wound up with.
One of the major problems that reviewers have pointed out is that too many characters are introduced in the first act and that it’s all just a big montage jumble for the first hour. Well, this is PRECISELY the STUDIO NOTES that were foisted upon Ayer by the trailer company that was brought in and PRECISELY where the extra money went – tens of millions of dollars apparently – for the RESHOOTS to “bring in more characters at the beginning” and make it more funner or some bullshit.
So they added to the budget AND made a worse film! And late in the game too. Post-Batman v. Superman.
Now, luckily it looks like it will turn out alright because the footage that Ayer did shoot came across so beautifully in the Comic Con trailer and in advertisements and so forth. His vision was very saleable, I guess. But at the end of the day what the studio did in interfering was to make a worse film. And how could Ayer’s cut have been worse than the critical dud that wound up being released with critics almost UNIVERSALLY pointing to the content that the STUDIOS brought to the table with their reshoots and shitty, soulless, edit of the film? You see how incredible that is? You find the movie in the editing room. Editing is kind of a big deal, kids. Like…what are you smoking? For most filmmaker’s editing is their favorite part of the process and where like…all the creativity and craft actually happens. A huge portion of it, anyhow unless your Mike Nichols or something that doesn’t exist now.
From what I have read and could piece together about Ayer’s version of the film it sounds like he brought in a few characters at the beginning, more slowly, thus allowing the impact of new introductions to flourish as the movie progressed, and then he could show off the designs and stuff at a slower speed, thus building upon the apparently thin story. We know that the script was a slapdash affair, not really ready very soon before shooting, and this was Ayers’ strategy for making all of that work. Pacing. Right? FILMMAKING. They have 250 million and all the actors and cool shit you can imagine. Let the whole thing breathe a bit. Don’t show ALL the sharks in the first reel you idiots!
But no, the studio puts out all of these panicked mixed messages after Batman v. Superman is a critical failure. There is some argument whether or not it was also a box office failure. But at any rate, Suicide Squad looks like a victim of studio interference. People afraid they are going to lose their jobs and the only thing in their way is the filmmaker. Their bad behavior isn’t being rewarded, exactly, now that Suicide Squad looks to be a hit. But I’m not sure how proud they should be for scuttling the quality of a film that was going to be a hit no matter what they did. Maybe they look at it as risk management or monetizing their shitty taste in film, their lack of skills at the editing controls, and their total disregard for the pedigree of their studio. It’s possible.
So Netflix swooped in and saved Ayer’s next project after Warner Brothers churlishly passed on it this summer making him seem like the rotten apple at the table? Even though now Suicide Squad is making bank IN SPITE of THEIR handiwork? Really? LOL. It’s pretty bad. Indeed who really looks incredible here and pro-artist is Netflix. Apparently lots of people are wanting to work with these guys now and you can see why. Ayer claims they are giving him final cut. And the irony of that is if Warners had been less greedy then they might now be looking at a much better Suicide Squad film and the prospect of another installment directed by Ayer whose high quality visionary filmmaking transcended the stupidity of the brass at their company and brought the studio a successful record shattering opening weekend on the strength not of some idiot trailer company’s skills in Final Cut Pro but the visuals that Ayer lensed. And if Ayer’s film had been actually badass, what if there are design, soundtrack, sound design and other Academy Awards that have been left on the table because of their greedy stupidity. I mean nominations are possible. Guardians of the Galaxy was nominated for two Academy Awards, best vfx and best makeup. You kind of rolled your bones on that you idiots.
Anyway this whole Suicide Squad thing has been pretty fascinating to me, and it sucks that Ayer isn’t going to get the credit for the movie’s success by getting to come back and play in the sandbox for a sequel with maybe less pressure than the earlier film. And look at Leto’s Joker. You think he wants to come back and do his career defining work only to have it all go out with the leftover energy drink cans and empty candy bar wrappers into the waste bin at a TRAILER COMPANY? That’s embarrassing.
Anyway Netflix is looking damn sexy to filmmakers everywhere now. Even though it is the small screen. Oh well.
So the question is at the end of the day seems to be this: how much of the suckiness of the Suicide Squad film is due to the awful reception of Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman?
Would we have a different (and clearly better) Suicide Squad film in the absence of Batman vs. Superman?
The answer is unequivocally yes, we would have a different film.
It was the lukewarm reception of Snyder’s sequel that made the Warner Brothers executives freak out and A. call for more test screenings B. call for reshoots C. gave Ayer’s film over to some fucking hacks who cut trailers for a living to cut a feature film.
And that’s got to rest on Snyder’s shoulders at some point since he quarterbacks the ‘A’ franchise in the DC universe.
But we all know how Snyder has his fans and that MoSteel has its boosters (neck snappery and all).
But all I’m saying is some of us thought Man of Steel was mediocre (great visuals), so we skipped Batman v. Superman. But then we saw the Suicide Squad trailer and thought it looked hard-R awesome and were primed for it. I’m a fan of David Ayer additionally. So it was looking pretty sweet.
But then to have the movie sabotaged because hack Snyder who made the worst superhero movie of all time – Watchmen (I have said it a thousand times and I hold to that) – is given the reigns to the Enterprise and he crashes the ship they slice up a better filmmaker’s work? I don’t know. There is a DIRECT CAUSALITY here between the shittiness of Snyder’s latest offering (well no shit, Watchmen was horrific) and the ENFORCED shittiness of Suicide Squad. It just doesn’t look good. Not at all.
And to have Leto go on the radio mystified because he thought they were making an R-rated film and says he was lobbying for it throughout the production process, that all his footage was cut out of the film to make it, most likely, a more generic PG-13 ball scratcher of a movie. Well….it’s just….sad….I guess.
You can tell Leto is super pissed too: “I think that I brought so much to the table in every scene that it was probably more about filtering all of the insanity, because I wanted to give a lot of options, and I think there’s probably enough footage in this film for a Joker movie. If I were to die tomorrow maybe the studio would roll something out.”
I still want to see Suicide Squad and hope it does really good at the box office. It will be interesting to see what bourgeoise vanilla hack they get to direct the second film, though, if indeed they decide to go ahead with it.
Agent Smith is moving to Singapore after he gets his cheap gold watch.