How Ayer’s Changes Could Have Affected ‘Suicide Squad’

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Suicide Squad continued the DCU’s streak of divisive films. Sure, the movie was a financial success ($325 million domestic, $745 million worldwide), but fans and critics were split. If Rotten Tomatoes matters to you, the movie has a 26% approval rating with critics and 63% with fans. That’s lower than Batman v Superman (27% and 64%).

Last week, SS director/writer David Ayer tweeted to a fan on his feelings toward the movie.

My knowledge in Suicide Squad comics is pretty much nonexistent (aside from the current Justice League vs. Suicide Squad book, which is amazing). So when he references the “insanity of the original comics,” I have nothing to compare to. Maybe his film did match those books?

My Review

The movie was just okay, closer to a negative than a positive. It should have been better. I felt the editing was choppy and messy. Scenes didn’t have the time or space to breathe and instead felt like a rush job. The soundtrack included too many snippets of music that also added to the disruptive flow.

My main issue was with Jared Leto’s Joker. I, along with many others, was disappointed in what we saw on screen. From the moment we got our first glimpse of him, I was excited. It seemed like we were getting a whole new take from a quality actor. Then, reports came in on Leto’s “special take,” followed by new images, trailers, and more. It seemed like he was going to get a lot of screen time.  His screen time MAYBE added up to 10 minutes of the film, and they too felt disjointed and sort of odd. We didn’t get enough of him to conduct a full review of his interpretation. I’d like to see more of his deleted scenes but according to Ayer, that’s not happening.

Finally, Enchantress. Ugh. I couldn’t stand her in this movie. She was silly, cheesy, and just didn’t make sense. All things considered, this was the biggest problem with the movie (in my eyes). Had the villain of the movie won over fans, I bet the film would have been better received.

There are also a few positives to note. The biggest was the cast. It was clear that everyone worked well together in this movie, and the end result showed us this. I personally thought Will Smith’s Deadshot was the best part about the movie (aside from Batman’s cameos). The other characters were also exciting to see on screen and brought a nice element of fun to this chapter of the DCU.

Changes

Ayer mentioned changes he would have made to the film if he could do it all over again. The Joker, grounded story, villain tweaking… basically, what I’d mentioned above. What are a few of the changes that could have been made, and how would they have affected the film overall? Here are a few thoughts.

The Joker

As mentioned above, this was my biggest disappointment in the movie. The most popular villain in all of comics (argue that point) was reduced to a small cameo in this film. He was weird, not all threatening, and purred like a cat. Ayer didn’t utilize him in the way he should have. The Joker IS unpredictable, menacing, scary, and oddly humorous. There were barely glimpses of that in the film, but overall he was pretty forgettable.

The director’s biggest change to the movie would have been making the Clown Prince of Crime THE villain. By making this adjustment there would have been a whole shift in the dynamic, which would have played out on different levels. First, just insert him into Enchantress’ role. Easy switch. Now, Amanda Waller needs to match crazy (Joker) with crazy (the worst of the worst). She sends Task Force X into Midway City, which has become the Joker’s playground, to take him down at any cost. The villain loves to kill, so there’s no loss of life if he takes out a few members of the squad. Also, say they’re victorious and take him out, a true menace to society is no more and Waller looks like the smartest person in the room.

Add to this the Harley Quinn/Joker dynamic. With her love for her Puddin’ really driving her, she has an ulterior motive in getting to Midway City. Sure, for Waller, she says she’ll be able to get in close and strike at the last minute. But, she’s conflicted, still in love, and torn between reuniting with him or sticking with her new “friends.” The empathy for her situation would have gotten the audience even more involved and added some good drama.

Lastly, the Batman. There’s no way he wouldn’t have played more of a factor with his arch nemesis having control over a city. This would have set up a great plot of the Dark Knight traveling to a different city to take out the Joker. Then add in another factor: Task Force X. Now, not only is he worried about catching/stopping the Joker, saving the citizens of the city, and making it out alive, but he has a group of unpredictables that he has to keep an eye on. More fights. More actiong. More drama. More awesome.

 

Enchantress

Another change Ayer wanted to engineer was a more grounded story. Scratch the supernatural (at least for now). By making the Joker the main villain (see above), that would have corrected many of the errors of the film right there. Enchantress’ dancing, monologues, and cheesiness would have been scrapped, as would her brother. Having eliminated her, the converted minions would also have been scrapped, eliminating more of the supernatural.

This would have affected the third act, but made it better too. Instead of having El Diablo fighting fire with fire, we could have seen that ultimate showdown with the Joker that was left on the editing room floor. Whether he went all fisticuffs with each member, or created an “obstacle course” for them to get out of (think a PG-13 version of Saw), audiences would have been involved and enjoyed the buildup of tension. Not to mention, it would have given us the payoff of the Joker/Harley relationship (will she, won’t she?).

Batman could have also jumped in at the end here. It would have been true to character for him to find a way to swoop in at the end and take out everyone. Also, audiences would have had more evidence of how great Affleck’s Batman is.

Looking Ahead

Ayer mentioned above that he’s learned from some mistakes and will apply them to future projects (Gotham City Sirens). While I agree with some of his comments, I also think he did some good things. For one: he introduced Harley Quinn to the general movie-going audience. She was the most popular part to come out of the film, and will be one of the most popular characters of the DCU going forward.

He also gave us more glimpses of Ben Alffeck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne. Though BvS got panned, the response to Affleck was superb and giving more scenes to him only got audiences more hyped for a solo Batman movie. Oh yeah, and we got another glimpse of the Flash. DC world building.

Finally, Suicide Squad was a financial success. Moviemaking is a business and as long as it’s making money, then there’s no need for panic. However, you can’t ignore responses. With SS making $745 million, there’s a real interest in the DC world and films, and some adjustments need to be made. But the interest is there, so take advantage.

Whether you like it, love it, or loathe it, Suicide Squad is here to stay. Fans were spoiled (again) by getting an extended cut, but that’s where it ends. It’s time to look ahead and see if David Ayer has learned from some of his mistakes.

He really needs to release all of his Joker footage though.

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Ryan Lower

A lifelong fan of the Dark Knight, Ryan Lower grew up far from Gotham in Indiana but has planted roots in Chicago. A writer for a T.V. station, he also enjoys brooding at home in his own batcave, devouring Batman comics, shows and movies.