When people discussed the DC Extended Universe after November 17, 2017, there was always a dialogue surrounding the Snyder Cut attached to it. The goal to release the Snyder Cut was a success and fans will see Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max next year. Yet, there is still one more DCEU film that needs to be redeemed, Suicide Squad.
The in-house politics after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice led multiple films being meddled by executives. David Ayer’s cut of 2016’s Suicide Squad was indeed one of them. The “Ayer Cut” as it has been coined, explores the infamous team of villains as pawns of a government who couldn’t care less for their lives. During July 2015, audiences received a trailer of the film that was haunting, quirky, and intense. The film that was released in 2016 kept some of the tones promised in the first teaser, but the street-level Private Ryan had a disconnected soundtrack, tone shifts, and whole plot points thrown out. While this is normal for post-production, the implications surrounding the timeline of these decisions paint a different picture.
Fig. 1. Still from SUICIDE SQUAD. WARNER BROS. (2016)
Must There Be an Ayer Cut?
Yes. With that out of the way, let’s examine why. The most important aspect is integrity and what this would mean for executive or committee meddling. A shift in power dynamics and decision making within DC Entertainment took the form of a new creed of selling “Hope and Optimism” within the films. This was a loaded statement due to implying that films before or during pre-production followed no such thing. Ayer’s take on “Task Force X” explored the repercussions of a post-BvS world, a world where the idea was “there is always a bigger fish”. There was the titular Squad, full of mercenaries and meta-humans, but they answered to the no-nonsense Rick Flagg who answered to dangerous and powerful Amanda Waller. From there, an insane and feared Joker who wanted power over Harley Quinn again, the threatening Enchantress, and who knows what else was involved.
On August 3, 2016, Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter examined the rushed production of the film citing “competing cuts” and how the studio sought to work with editors from the company Trailer Park to make the movie reflect the action-comedy that was marketed after Comic-Con.
By the time the film was done, multiple editors had been brought into the process, though only John Gilroy is credited. (A source says he left by the end of the process and that the final editor was Michael Tronick.) “When you have big tentpoles and time pressure, you pull in resources from every which way you can,” says this source. “You can’t do it the way it used to be, with one editor and one assistant editor.”
‘Suicide Squad’s’ Secret Drama: Rushed Production, Competing Cuts, High Anxiety. (Masters, 2016)
While the film was a financial success at the box office with a $746.8 million USD, many fans upon viewing the film speculated that the difference in tone, quick pace, and erasure of characters were the results of the meddling reported by Masters in August ’16. While nothing has been official, it is highly implied that major changes were made to the film to undermine the connected plot threads played by director Zack Snyder for a minimum of 5 films. This alleged decision had ramifications of the DCEU as a whole dividing the fans, critics, general audiences, and some executives. Releasing Ayer’s cut of the film would be a testament of solidarity between the studio, the fanbase, the director, cast, and crew. While it is great in theory, is it possible to accomplish such a task?
Fig. 2. Still from SUICIDE SQUAD. Jared Leto. WARNER BROS. (2016)
As stated before, the issue is bigger than releasing a “director’s cut” of a few films. Every film studio with IP wants to cash in on making the next big thing, but the constant starts and re-starts alienate an established audience. So, how do you fix an internal issue that has created such a divide? Release the Snyder Cut? Done. You can thank AT&T for that. However, the mismanagement of the property and perceived snubbing of fans creates an uneasy trust between the suppliers and consumers.
Ayer has been vocal recently about his take and choices that were not seen in the theatrical cut of Squad and providing shots of footage not shown in the theatrical cut of SQUAD. Ignoring all of the concept art and what-ifs, a cut of the film with more scenes involving elements of horror, Katana, Joker, and the dynamics within the team exists. With rumors of Snyder’s “JUSTICE LEAGUE” adding whole new scenes and new plot points, Ayer’s cut could be produced at a faster rate. While he previously explained that Visual FX may be needed for some scenes, the original film wouldn’t need any additional scenes, unless requested by Warner Bros. or HBOMax. A release of the original cuts of both JL and Squad would prove the “filmmaker-driven” motto Warner has become (in)famous for.
Fig. 3. Still from SUICIDE SQUAD. Karen Fukuhara. Margot Robbie. Jai Courtney. WARNER BROS. (2016)
In conclusion, the release of the “Ayer Cut” can be an olive branch to the current fans of the DCEU; solidifying nonverbal support of both Ayer and Snyder’s established visions. The tale of the artist fighting for their art is as old as time, but the influence of social media has given a louder voice to the artist and consumers.
Combine that with streaming services providing original content that relies heavily on plot, and you have people who deem corporate transgressions unacceptable. This creates a demand for story-driven films not reliant on gimmicks and moves companies away from cliché storytelling and overindulgence of the “Blockbuster” style that dominated the 2010s. Warner Brothers, DC Entertainment, and AT&T won many over with the announcement of plans to release Snyder’s JL, but how do you keep the momentum while so many properties are in pre-production? You release the Ayer Cut.