Suicide Squad director David Ayer has taken a page out of Zack Snyder's book and used social media to discuss his version of the critically-maligned team-up movie. As it turns out, and as fans suspected, much like Snyder's Justice League, Ayer's film was plagued by studio interference and multiple cuts.
In several revelatory tweets, Ayer has confirmed his vision had a different climax that featured the Joker, the use of pop music throughout the movie was much less than in the final cut, and there were more fleshed-out story arcs for the characters. It's and unsurprising revelation, really, when you look at the amount of footage from the trailers that didn't make it into the theatrical release, the concept art, and the overall inconsistent tone of the film.
A filmmaker like Ayer isn't known for his over-the-top fun flicks; he isn't James Gunn. In fact, some of his better work, such as End of Watch, features boots-on-the-ground storytelling with morally ambiguous characters. Ayer's characters do display an occasional sense of humor, but the storytelling leans more towards dark comedy than it does family-friendly laughs. Watching Suicide Squad, it's evident that it's the end result of arguments between creative and execs over what it should've (and could've) been.
It's no secret that the changes to Suicide Squad were a direct result of the negative reception to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice's dark and gritty approach. If you compare the first trailer to the last one, you can see the spike in color and inclusion of more light-hearted moments. This isn't to say that Ayer's film would've been as grim as BvS, but it's obvious that the reshoots contained more than "additional action stuff," as per Jai Courtney's claim.
Considering that Suicide Squad was opening barely five months after BvS, there wasn't enough time for a complete, well-considered overhaul. It was a rush job with the goal of brightening up the movie with more jokes and humor. Reportedly, Ayer was locked out of the editing room as the studio brought in an influx of editors, including a company renowned for making music videos, to finish it up. Multiple cuts of the film were shown to test audiences, but with time running out, Warner Bros. released a version complete with gaping plot holes, a smorgasbord of pop hits, and Jared Leto's Joker being reduced to a glorified cameo.
Despite experiencing a testing time on the movie, Ayer remains diplomatic about the studio and film. In a tweet from December 2017, he wrote, "I got to work with amazing people. It won an Oscar, did incredible business. Launched a franchise and spinoff. And like it or not it’s halfway to cult status. I grew as a person, grew creatively. Warners [sic] took a chance on me. I’m grateful."
Still, you can't help but wonder if Ayer's version was better. One thing is certain, though, the Ayer cut is out there, because multiple people have seen it. Thus, unlike the Snyder Cut of Justice League, there's no debate about its existence. It might not have fixed Joker's controversial "damaged" tattoo or Enchantress' hula-inspired villainy, but it's entirely possible that it made more sense and tied up all the loose ends.
Unlike Justice League, Suicide Squad over-performed at the box office, raking in over $746 million, even winning an Oscar. This means that Warner Bros. considers this case closed and has no incentive to revisit it. Even if Ayer's cut is superior to the theatrical version -- which fans of his work believe it most likely is -- it's improbable that we'll ever see it. Walter Hamada and his team want to move on, so why would they revisit the past in any way? Unless, of course, they'd like to make some more money.
Maybe now Warner Bros. will get the Suicide Squad film it wants with Gunn at the helm of the sequel. But no matter how that experiment ultimately turns out, it's intriguing to ponder what Ayer's untampered vision for Task Force X could've been.