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Directing Suicide Squad is complicated. Writing it, however, was a whole different challenge that writer/director David Ayer didn't realize would be such an uphill battle until he tried to put the right words into the mouths of some of DC Comics' most brutal, vicious and diabolical characters. Everyone wants to write a heroic ending for the good guy. What do you do when there really aren't any good guys in your movie, and everyone's pretty much as bad as they come?
During a recent press event for Suicide Squad in New York City, I spoke with David Ayer about the steps he took in building this DC villains movie, long before he shot an inch of film. I wanted to know, as the film's screenwriter, which Squad members were the toughest ones to figure out, the hardest nuts to crack (literally and figuratively). As you might imagine, his choices were as follows:
Harley was the toughest. And Joker. But once I had Harley's voice, I knew I could write the movie. Because she's such a complex character. Margot [Robbie] lives in her skin and just makes it look simple, right? Effortless. But she's very complex character. She's all over the place, and very in the moment, and has a lot of depth and history. Joker is intimidating because it's The Joker, you know? On the day, me and Jared [Leto] ended up really doing a lot of ad libs, a lot of development, as long as we sort of got what we needed, to move the story forward. He was a guy who really discovered that voice.
In David Ayer's Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn and Deadshot (Will Smith) really act as the two catalysts that keep the action moving ever forward. They butt heads with team leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and they stir the pot of the entire Squad just for lunatic kicks. But I can see how figuring out Harley's tone would really help David Ayer figure out the direction of the movie.
The Joker, on the other hand, is a wild card who blows in and out of scenes with the intensity and unpredictability of a tornado, leaving a similar path of destruction in his wake. Writing him had to be fun, even though it sounds like Ayer and Leto cooked up a lot of his interactions in the moment, on the set, while filming.
Consequently, when I asked Ayer which character was the easiest to figure out, he told me:
Maybe Amanda Waller. Sounds a little crazy, you know? Maybe that says not good things about me. But I had a lot of clarity on who she was, and the kind of mind it would take to be able to manage all of these apex predator personalities.
See for yourself how well Amanda Waller, and David Ayer, wrangled all of these apex predator personalities when Suicide Squad opens in theaters in August 5.