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There are a lot of fans who assume that the DCEU was doctored from within. That influences on the early DC film adaptations dictated the direction that future films starring Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Shazam (Zachary Levi) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) would go. And they’re right, but it’s only half the story. The movies being made outside of and around the DCEU also played a major role, as was confirmed by Suicide Squad director David Ayer.
The filmmaker has been active on social media lately helping to spread the word on an alternate cut of his Suicide Squad movie. He’s been vocal for years about the theatrical version not being fully in line with what he wanted to deliver. And on Twitter, he recently revealed that the success of Deadpool also played a role in how his original vision was altered.
There’s a lot to unpack here, starting with the fact that David Ayer set out to make a “soulful drama” out of Suicide Squad, but the team at Warner Bros. at the time reacted to two seismic events. First, Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was poorly received by critics (and underperformed at the box office, but lofty studio standards). Meanwhile, across town, joke-packed comic-book adaptations like Deadpool and the MCU movies were raking in the dough, and Warner Bros. panicked.
Building off of the tone of this incredible trailer, the studio tried to rework Suicide Squad. It didn’t work so well:
Can you blame the studio? Years back, “funny” worked better in comic-book movies, from an audience perspective. The MCU was firing on all cylinders, with movies like Iron Man 3 sailing past the $1 billion mark. The DCEU tried to distance itself by going adult, and serious, and while that tone was embraced by dedicated fans, the movies didn’t break the bank the way that studio executives had dreamed.
So the visions of Snyder and Ayer were compromised. I’ve often drawn a direct line between the DCEU and the MCU in terms of competition. But in the process, I completely overlooked the success of Tim Miller’s Deadpool, which probably teased WB with its edgy, R-rated violence and humor. I can see studio executives looking at the toys in the Suicide Squad box and thinking, “We can do THAT with THESE!”
That’s not how movies should be made, though.
Zack Snyder’s fans lobbied hard enough to get that director’s version of Justice League on HBO Max in 2021. Ayer’s fans are attempting to do the same. We’ll see if they manage to succeed, and restore the heart of the Suicide Squad film Ayer believed he was making.