David Ayer Talks 6-7 Versions of Suicide Squad, Joker’s Damaged Tattoo and Grill

DC Comics, Movies, News

While talking to Empire, David Ayer opened up about certain aspects about the film.

Suicide Squad is about to head into its second weekend. Last weekend it broke records with $133,682,248. If it’ll suffer a huge drop, like Batman v Superman, in its second weekend remains to be seen.

Now high box office earnings obviously guarantee a good movie, which is unfortunately the case for the disjointed, terrible mess that is Suicide Squad. The first 30-40 minutes is bogged down by thoughtless exposition, no real structure, and awfully distracting editing. When the rest of the film kicks off it just turns into a generic, bland superhero action movie, with the type of cliche villains we’ve seen done better many times. Pretty much the only aspect that saves anything is the acting.

A lot of these problems could contribute to how the film was butchered by reshoots and editing. David Ayer cleared up some particulars about the film in the interview he did with Empire. Now he doesn’t address how people are saying that the film got butchered in editing or reshoots, which I can respect. He’s trudging along instead of just playing the blame game, even though he easily could. Check out the highlights, of what he said, that we found most interesting below.


(Spoilers for Suicide Squad Below)

First he went into one cut, of many, of the film that was screened for test audiences.

There’s a linear version we did where it opens up with June in the cave and tells the story in sequence with the arrests and Batman, and then we go to Belle Reve. Honestly, there may be six or seven different versions of the film. In that version, [test] audiences were left with a lot of questions and a little disoriented as to who to watch and why. So we came up with what we call the ‘dossier’ version which has Amanda presenting the backstories and origins of the various members.

What he says right there goes more in line with the original script, which he also goes into.

The very first script started in Belle Reve and told the backstories of everybody in these sort of flashback montages. The original conception is that there would be these memory bursts as they sat in their cells recalling their previous lives and also get the audience up to speed about who they are and how they ended up there. The first impulse was always to do a montage in the first act, but you chase different things.

It sounds like test audiences wanted everything spoon fed to them, because this sounds so much better! As it is in the original film, like what was said above, it was so muddled with exposition. The structure also seems a lot stronger with starting with June in the cave.

Structure and lazy exposition obviously aren’t the only problems that plagued Suicide Squad. Another big problem was how underdeveloped the characters were, which is partly due to there being too many. We know, however, in earlier versions that there were scenes cut that furthered developed The Joker (especially him), Harley, Killer Croc, and more. That makes it even more surprising that one of the key aspects about Captain Boomerang, who Jai Courtney actually did really well playing, almost didn’t make it into the film as it was added in late into production.


[Pinky] was actually intended to be a piece of set decoration in one of our office building sets. I thought [Boomerang] needed a little something kind of fun and silly and it kept appearing throughout the film. It became a bit of a mascot. Yes, [he’s a] Brony. Which is fine. I think it’s a good thing and gives him a little hobby besides robbing banks.

As for other characters, David Ayer has no regrets about how he killed Slipknot early on.


You have to pick and choose your battles, and Slipknot gets his head blown off pretty quickly. I made a commitment early on not to try and create some kind of misdirect, because when you have that many characters, every frame of real estate is priceless. I didn’t want to invest in that real estate to create some misdirect, because after opening night everyone knows he dies anyway.

I get his reasoning, but it still feels like Slipknot could’ve been given more development. He’s in the film less than people even expected, which is almost impossible to believe. As he’s presented in the final film, he’s pretty pointless. The first time we see him is right before they gather the Squad together for the first time, then he’s dead soon after. In Ayer’s cut, or one of the other 4-5 cuts, Slipknot is apparently actually given an introduction like the other Squad members. Maybe they didn’t put that in due to how they bring up that he’s a serial rapist there, but these people are suppose to be bad guys after all.


Speaking of poorly executed characters, Jared Leto’s take on the Joker has been a big topic of discussion since long before the movie even came out. Fans were against his version of the Joker ever since the first photo was released in April of last year. The concerns mostly stemmed from the tattoos and grill, which David Ayer addresses below, so fans wanted a version like the one obviously seen on the right.


This is sort of my personal thing and maybe less about a larger connection. But Joker killed Robin and Batman basically smashes his teeth out and locks him up in Arkham Asylum. It’s in the asylum where Joker would have done the ‘damaged’ tattoo as a message to Batman saying, ‘You’ve damaged me. I was so beautiful before and now you’ve destroyed my face.’ That’s where the grill comes from.

Even though I had more problems with the look while actually watching the movie, I was always fine with how he looked from that first photo. I assumed the grill was due to Batman punching The Joker’s face in. As for the tattoos, as long as this was the intention, the self-awarenesses was always cool to me. While the tattoos weren’t portrayed that way in the movie, it seems like that was more of the intention with how David Ayer was speaking. Maybe that’ll be explained in another scene that got cut or in future movies, as long as the DCEU doesn’t implode first.

David Ayer also addresses how people consider Joker’s role to be a glorified cameo.

I think there was an expectation of what the film should have been. People really wanted more Joker and wanted him to be an A-plot component. And it’s funny how the critics call it a cameo but he has some fantastic sequences that are really important for the film. He really influences the journey quite a bit.

This definitely feels like just another aspect he’s trying to cover up about what really happened in production. There’s a lot of people who think the Joker was the main villain originally. That seems even more likely with, according to Jared Leto, how much they cut to the point where there’s enough footage to make a whole Joker movie. As it is in the film, Joker is pointless and could simply have just been edited out to make the movie tighter. Jared Leto has also went into how his cut footage could’ve made the movie R, which a lot of people wanted. Ayer cleared the air about how there’s no R cut.

You could easily make this R-rated by having two F-bombs or someone smoke a cigarette. But that’s not what I think people mean when they ask for an R-rated version, so it was always meant to be a PG-13. It’s a decision you make before you turn the cameras on.

That makes perfect sense. As the film is now, an R cut could just be like Max Payne’s Unrated Cut where the blood effects are clearly edited in just to make fans happy. That version added nothing to an already terrible movie. Now if a lot of the Joker scenes were edited back in to make Suicide Squad R, that’s a different story. As it is now though Suicide Squad has a lot of problems, but the movie being PG-13 isn’t one of them.

Suicide Squad is in theaters now.

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