“We’re bad guys, it’s what we do!” Now that David Ayer’s Suicide Squad has arrived in cinemas, we can finally see just how detestable this bunch of bad guys really are. And, now the film’s out, we can also get to the nitty gritty of all of those pre-release rumours – and whether any of them manifested in the final film. Director Ayer talked us through some of his previous cuts, why his latest film is an “anarchic punk rock art movie”, and his responsibility to the DC Extended Universe at large.
WARNING: there are spoilers for Suicide Squad throughout this article.
1. The original script started in Belle Reve
"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."
2. It’s an ‘anarchic punk rock art movie’
"The film is really the journey of the soul. I know this is going to provoke incredible howls of outrage, but it’s really this anarchic punk rock art movie. June Moone goes into this cave where she becomes possessed by this alter-ego that’s hypersexual and primitive and destructive and vengeful. Everybody who has to take her down experiences their own sort of ‘dark night of the soul’ as Enchantress offers up this fantasy reality where she can provide them with a false nirvana, false happiness. The film, in a lot of ways, is really about the splitting of the personality and addiction, and the dark side of the soul."
3. It was the bat way or no way
"When I signed on, I explicitly asked for Batman. Everything’s always done in his viewpoint, in this case we see Batman through the eyes of the baddies that he arrests, so I thought it was important to show how he takes them down."
4. There’s no R-rated 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."
5. Scott Eastwood isn’t playing Dick Grayson. Or Roy Harper. Sorry
"He's Flag's right-hand man, GQ, a fairly straightforward military character."
6. Only two Skwad members were ever going to snuff it
"There was never a third. It’s pretty standard in the structure of all the Suicide Squad stories that somebody rebels against the system and gets executed by Amanda [Waller] or Flag, so it was important to show the consequences. You’re always wrestling with something like this, you know, 'Why would the bad guys play along?'."
7. Boomerang’s pink plush unicorn, ‘Pinky’, was a late addition
"[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."
8. The Joker owes his ‘damaged’ tattoo to the Boy Wonder
"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."
9. The version you see in cinemas is the ‘dossier’ version
"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."
10. Amanda Waller gets what Amanda Waller wants
"She’s an intelligence officer, and if you start running down the logic trails of things and you have this Batman figure acting as a vigilante – and at this point he’s been doing it for maybe 20 years – the intelligence services would absolutely figure out who this guy is and where he comes from. You’d put a friggin’ drone over Gotham City and just track the guy, it’s only logical. Amanda Waller would somehow get this information. There’s something fascinating in how she could wrangle these monsters. She has to be an apex predator in order to control them."
11. Ayer has no regrets over Slipknot’s early demise
"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."
12. Pink Floyd inspired a scene involving The Joker
"Yes, there’s some onesies (you can just see a baby onesie in the top right of the above picture). Some roses, some onesies, some piano keys, cell phones, laptops, obviously a lot of knives and weapons, a lot of empty bottles and some tied-off bags of god knows what. It was inspired a little bit from Pink Floyd, the movie when Pete goes insane in the hotel room."
13. Ayer didn’t feel constrained by the DC Cinematic Universe at large
"Initially there was a lot of discussion about how to connect to the Justice League movie. Obviously in continuity this is post-Batman V Superman, but Wonder Woman is an earlier timeline than this so I was kind of free and clear of any friendly fire. But Flash and Aquaman are sort of in present day timelines, so we just had to steer clear of all that. My best analogy is: this is a fleet of ships crossing the ocean, but you get to be captain of your own vessel."
14. Don’t call Jared Leto’s performance a 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."
15. There’s a reason The Flash captured Captain Boomerang
"Boomerang is a Flash character, a Flash villain, traditionally. So it only made sense that it would be The Flash that captured him, so we dropped Ezra [Miller] in for his brief cameo. There’s a history of rivalry between them."
16. Amanda Waller is the mission
"The movie is basically Amanda Waller covering up her mistake, because she was the one that decided to use Enchantress as part of the original core Suicide Squad. Waller deploys her to clean up this entity that appears, which unbeknownst to Amanda is actually Enchantress’s brother. So Enchantress engineers her escape from Amanda Waller and then Waller decides to cover it up by having the Suicide Squad rescue her and get her out of that city. It’s funny because the plot gets deemed as being incredibly simple, but it’s actually extremely complex!"
17. So just what is on Griggs’ (Ike Barinholtz) internet history?
"I think it’s better left unsaid! I think he does a lot of eBay shopping."
Suicide Squad is in cinemas now.