I’m confused about this whole Ayer Cut thing.
For those unaware, David Ayer directed 2016’s Suicide Squad … or, originally directed it before Warner Bros. (in response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s “tepid” box office) decided to rework the movie as a comedy, ala Guardians of the Galaxy.
So, instead of the dark villain ensemble teased in the original Comic-Con trailer:
We got a more flamboyant, colorful remix featuring jokes, gags, and more jokes that catered to the studio’s desire to match Marvel’s lighter tone.
Suicide Squad premiered on August 5, 2016, to middling reviews but still managed to earn a stellar $746 million worldwide. The overall consensus amongst fans was that the movie was subpar, but the characters, particularly Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Will Smith’s Deadshot, were actually pretty great.
Almost as soon as the film hit theaters, fans began speculating that an alternate cut more in line with the Comic-Con trailer existed, if it had featured an alternate ending, had stronger ties to Zack Snyder’s original cut of Justice League, and more of Jared Leto’s curiously underused Joker.
Naturally, Ayer and Leto stoked the flames by dropping details about alternate scenes, different takes, cut sequences, and reshuffled storylines.
Cue the Snyder Cut
In one of the more entertaining pop cultural phenomena of the last decade, Zack Snyder fans rallied to show their support for the director’s original version of Justice League. Several years, one long pandemic and an additional $75 million later, WB released Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max, and … the crowd went wild. Critics (mostly) liked Snyder’s 4+ hour extravaganza (71% on RT), while fan reaction leaned (mostly) positive (94% audience score, based on 25,000+ ratings).
Of course, all ZSJL’s success did was fuel fan’s desire to see Ayer’s cut of Suicide Squad, which the director insists is far superior to the theatrical release. No, really, the man released a very passionate statement about the project this week (just before James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad hits theaters) in which he said:
“I made something amazing. My cut is intricate and emotional journey with some bad people who are shit on and discarded (a theme that resonates in my soul). The studio cut is not my movie. Read that again. And my cut is not the 10 week director’s cut — it’s a fully mature edit by Lee Smith standing on the incredible work by John Gilroy. It’s all Steven Price’s brilliant score, with not a single radio song in the whole thing. It has traditional character arcs, amazing performances, a solid third-act resolution. A handful of people have seen it.”
At this point, I assume Zack Snyder’s Justice League was a success. WB never released the official streaming data, but the film topped everything from Apple to the Official Film Chart, where it scored “double the sales of its closest competition,” according to OfficialCharts. Given that Snyder’s Army of the Dead likewise made huge waves on Netflix, it’s fair to assume audiences were at least open to seeing more of the director’s patented dark and brooding style.
So, Where’s the Ayer Cut?
After the success of ZSJL, one would assume the powers that be would want more of that pudding. Instead, those in charge are quite opposed to anything related to the Snyderverse, despite its very lucrative possibilities (and built-in fan base), particularly on HBO Max where the series could continue without negating any of WB’s upcoming theatrical DC slate.
In other words, this is a perfect time for a multiverse. However, let’s just assume WB has absolutely zero interest in continuing Snyder’s vision. Fair enough. So, why not release the Ayer Cut?
Look, having an alternate version of Suicide Squad won’t change anything related to Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. If anything, you would think the extra promotion would help drive more interest for Gunn’s sequel. In the event that Ayer’s version sucks, well, that makes Gunn’s flick that much better; and in the event, Ayer’s version achieves the same critical response as the Snyder Cut, one would imagine fans would be more inclined to see the follow-up, right?
Considering the sluggish summer box office — during which films such as Black Widow and M. Night Shyamalan’s Old produced meager ticket sales — it’s apparent audiences aren’t exactly flocking to theaters, which means there are billions of eyeballs searching home streaming platforms for new content.
So, again, tell me why the Ayer Cut is a bad idea? Is WB worried a negative reaction would curb enthusiasm for Gunn’s film? Are they worried a positive reaction would steal Gunn’s thunder? Are they worried the contrasting tones of each movie would lead to a divisive audience reaction? Are they simply waiting for a later date far removed from The Suicide Squad’s August 6 release?
There’s this weird notion that fans will grow tired, or worse, confused, by too much content — there can only be one Batman, one Superman, one Wonder Woman, one Green Lantern, etc. That’s B.S. I say, the more Batmen, the merrier. Let Robert Pattinson do his thing. Let Ben Affleck do his thing. Let the upcoming animated series do its thing. Audiences love superheroes and would likely greet alternate takes (streamed on an entirely different platform) on their favorite heroes/villains with open arms.
More Suicide Squad is a Good Thing
So, yeah, count me in on this latest fan outcry. Hell, I’ll support the movement if only to respect a director’s ultimate vision. Honestly, though, what’s the worst that could happen? Let’s say it sucks … okay. People will still watch it. Michael Bay’s 6 Underground wasn’t good and it was still viewed by 83 million households in its first four weeks on Netflix.
Best case scenario? People love the Ayer Cut. They watch it over and over again leading to huge numbers for HBO Max, happy fans, and more subscribers, thus justifying the additional $20-30 million Ayer would need to complete his vision. Since when is double-dipping a bad word within the Hollywood machine?
Maybe I’m oversimplifying the complexity of the situation and not taking important details into consideration, but it makes zero sense to have a potential blockbuster collecting dust on a shelf somewhere.
Come on WB, release the Ayer Cut. You’ve got nothing to lose and plenty to gain.