Over the past year, filmmaker David Ayer has campaigned for Warner Bros. to release his cut of 2016's Suicide Squad, the superhero movie which was maligned by critics when it was released in a version, Ayer insists, far removed from his vision for the project. "It's frustrating because I made a really heartfelt drama and it got ripped to pieces and they tried to turn it into Deadpool, which it just wasn't supposed to be," Ayer told EW's Derek Lawrence in March. "I made an amazing movie. It's an amazing movie, it just scared the s--- out of the executives."
Last week, Ayer returned to the subject of Suicide Squad after Screen Daily critic Tim Grierson wrote on Twitter that, while watching James Gunn's new movie The Suicide Squad, he thought that "David Ayer should just abandon the idea of that director's cut."
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics
"I put my life into Suicide Squad," Ayer wrote in the course of a lengthy message explaining why he will not quit his quest. "My cut is [an] intricate and emotional journey with some 'bad people' who are s--- on and discarded (a theme that resonates in my soul). The studio cut is not my movie." (Ayer concluded the missive with kind words for Gunn, writing, "I'm so proud of James and excited for the success that's coming. I support WB and am thrilled the franchise is getting the legs it needs.")
None of this would have come as a surprise to Joel Kinnaman. The actor played the Squad-leading Rick Flag in Ayer's Suicide Squad and reprises the role in Gunn's movie, alongside fellow franchise veterans Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, and Jai Courtney and series newbies Idris Elba and John Cena, among many others. "We had an amazing experience shooting the first film," says the actor. "Some of the people that I got to know on that film are still some of my closest friends. So the OG Squad, I mean, we're still texting with each other. But the vision of what that film was going to be, it wasn't clear to everyone, you know. It wasn't like the producers, the filmmaker, the studio, everyone had the same vision. There were conflicting visions of what that film was going to be, and sometimes with these big budget studio films people start pulling at it from different directions, and then it doesn't really end up anywhere. I feel like that's what happened with the first Suicide Squad. It kind of ended up being neither here nor there. I think David was really setting out to do something much darker, much more emotional, and nihilistic in a way, at least in his portrayal of the Joker (who was played by Jared Leto in Ayers' film), his idea of the Joker, and I think the studio wanted something that was much more entertaining. I think the trailer for the first Suicide Squad really worked against us because it became so successful, [but] it wasn't really what the movie was like. And then I think they almost tried to reshape the movie to be more like the trailer, so there was complete division."
Where Suicide Squad was mauled by critics, The Suicide Squad has received almost universally positive reviews and currently boasts a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Kinnaman reveals he is much happier with The Suicide Squad compared to the released version of Suicide Squad, thanks to the finished result resembling so closely the director's initial blueprint. "When I saw the film completed I felt, yeah, this was the film that we set out to do," he says. "In this film, they trusted who James is, everyone has confidence in his vision. It was a joy to shoot the film and what you see is very much the script, but then I was surprised [because] it just seemed there were more layers to it than I had expected. I didn't see [in the script] the emotional depths that I felt were very unpretentiously woven into the film. Obviously, I'm hugely biased here, but I felt that that made the film transcend the genre, and the big spectacle of it, and made something that was a real work of art as well."
The Suicide Squad is released in cinemas and on HBO Max Aug. 6.
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