David Ayer and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn on the set of "Suicide Squad." Photo courtesy of Warner Media

Let’s release the Ayer Cut

Contributing writer and Zack Snyder fan Jainam Turakhia shares why he believes David Ayer's cut of "Suicide Squad" should be released.

9 mins read

Since the theatrical cut of “Suicide Squad” released back in 2016, it has been a breaking point for the ongoing tone for the DC Universe that director Zack Snyder envisioned.

“Suicide Squad,” advertised as a dark character driven film, ended up being a movie with mixed tones and uneven pacing. It changed a lot of plots and, in turn, cancelled out any chances DC had of having an artist driven competition against Marvel’s formula driven cinematic universe. Director David Ayer back then confirmed the media and the fandom speculation by saying that the cut of the movie released is the final cut, the way he envisioned. Here’s the full quote from the collider’s Steve Weintraub’s interview back in the day.

“We have a chunk, there’s definitely over 10 minutes of material on there. But this cut of the movie is my cut, there’s no sort of parallel universe version of the movie, the released movie is my cut. And that’s one of the toughest things about writing, shooting, and directing a film, is you end up with these orphans and you f**king love them and you think they’d be amazing scenes and do these amazing things but the film is a dictatorship (laughs), not a democracy, and just because something’s cool and charismatic doesn’t mean it gets to survive in the final cut. The flow of the movie is the highest master.”

David Ayer

But over the years, as The Snyder Cut movement started becoming a reality, David Ayer then became vocal about his cut of the film. He is a person from a military background, sticking to the team is important to him. But now, there is no team here with Warner Bros. Hence him speaking out doesn’t look hypocritical. 

Over the time, it became more and more established that the cut that was released wasn’t really the cut finalized by Ayer, but a cut that was edited by a trailer company as the “studio cut” of the film. The early screenings turned out to be similar for the darker David Ayer version, as well as for the studio version. So the studio then decided to make a “best out of both worlds” film… which unironically never worked out, ever. 

The people who attended the early test screenings also confirmed that the Ayer version was much more menacing and dark and brutal than the studio version, which was simply a comedy ordered by the new regime at WB after the critical failure of the “Batman v Superman” theatrical cut and “Deadpool’s” success.

Scenes such as Joker abusing and trying to kill Harley in the film were a few things that turned out to be true when excerpts of the script leaked online. The film isn’t simply a rom-com between the king and queen of Gotham’s crime world, but a sad abusive relationship between the two and how Harley redeems herself by getting out of it. The Ayer Cut is a complete tonal shift away from the theatrical version. It even fits the original emotionally layered tone of the DCEU and sets out new roads for the characters.

Three days after the release of the Zack Snyder’s version of “Justice League,” infamously known as the “Snyder Cut,” Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff publicly stated that the Snyder Cut brings an end to Zack Snyder’s Justice League Trilogy and denounced any plans for a David Ayer’s cut of “Suicide Squad.”

After the critical success of James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” David Ayer disowned the theatrical cut of “Suicide Squad” with a heartfelt confession.

“The Studio Cut is not my movie.” 

David Ayer

The cast has on numerous occasions spoken about how they would love to see the cut again. Along with them, numerous other people involved in the film, including Zack Snyder, producer Charles Roven and others like John Cena and James Gunn from the cast of “The Suicide Squad,” have aided their voices in support of the cut.

In a recent interview with variety, John Cena supported the Ayer Cut saying, “It is in the studio’s best interest to listen to their audiences and if it’s something in demand and they got it, then why not?”

What does it mean financially?

Now, we as an audience pay a small price to watch it but the corporations invest a huge load of money in order to make these films so, in order to keep them motivated, returns are necessary. 

But in this situation, streaming is a game changer. A majority of the people are more comfortable watching films at the comfort of their homes rather than on the big screen. And they get more at a normal rate than they would have if they had opted for theatres. Especially during the pandemic, streaming services have been on a constant rise leading to a streaming war. In order to compete, they need content. They can take chances if they have a good audience base to back them up. Marvel takes chances with both cinemas as well as streaming now because they know they can experiment since their audiences back them up.

Netflix takes risks. And HBO Max is gaming up with the streaming competition too. They invested a good amount of money in new shows and movies, connected to beloved IPs or indie stories. Streaming was the reason Snyder Cut was able to be 4 hours long. It’s understandable that people can’t watch these long movies in theatres but because of streaming, it’s very much possible. And since we have a pause and Play button, complaining about the run time becomes irrelevant. Same can be said for the Ayer Cut. Though it won’t be that long and won’t cost as much as the Snyder cut did, since it’s streaming and has an active Audience who is ready to invest in the streaming service for such films, then why not? 

Laymen argue that the streaming service already has their subscriptions and their dollars so why would they? 

How long would that last? How long would people whom you claim to be subscribed to the streaming service stay subscribed to if they don’t get the content they want to watch? 

Does it set a dangerous precedent?

The Snyder Cut campaign was a huge success, mostly due to the organized events by the members of the Snyder Cut movement. But the sources claim that the fandom then became salty and toxic due to a statement by Ann Sarnoff and tarnished any chances of the universe continuing. The fans actively started demanding films.

Ray Fisher came out with his statement against the abusive work environment at Warner brothers. Followed by his lead, many others who experienced the toxic behavior came up and spoke up against the toxicity. In retaliation, every time an allegation was raised on social media, a major news source seemingly broke out to distract the words that needed to be heard. Fans spoke against such a pattern and called out the management and held them accountable for the work environment they did not publicly accept was toxic in order to maintain the public image.  

In response, Ann Sarnoff came out with a public statement stating her disappointment in the fandom.

“We’re not tolerating any of that. That behavior is reprehensible no matter what franchise you’re talking about or what business you’re talking about. It’s completely unacceptable. I’m very disappointed in the fans that have chosen to go to that negative place with regard to DC, with regard to some of our executives. It’s just disappointing because we want this to be a safe place to be. We want DC to be a fandom that feels safe and inclusive. We want people to be able to speak up for the things they love, but we don’t want it to be a culture of canceling things that any small faction isn’t happy with. We are not about that. We are about positivity and celebration.”

Ann Sarnoff

It suddenly became a media narrative to highlight anything the fandom does as toxic. Is the fandom free of toxicity? No. But what fandom is? The media made sure to highlight the fandom for their toxicity when a few fans review bombed Godzilla vs kong in retaliation for WB’s decision to not continue the Snyderverse. Where were these journalists when Marvel fans review bombed “Dune” because a director expressed his harmless opinion about superhero films? Where was this media when critics were harassed online by the fans for giving black widow a negative review? Where were these journalists when Marvel fans harassed the cast and crew of the MCU films on several occasions? Why were they not termed “terrorists” for such inappropriate behavior but when Snyder fans called out Warner Bros. To answer for their abusive work environment and asked for the continuation of the Snyderverse and like any fandom, acted minorly toxic, they be termed as terrorists? You people, who do this side picking, are the real enablers.

Maybe that’s what they say, “no one buys the papers.” No one is different, no one is neutral. 

Marvel fans keep asking for content and they get it and when dc fans show their interest, that’s… wrong? Then maybe you should stop asking for movies over all and never criticize anything and accept everything the way it is. 

Is it time to move on?

The DCEU has so far changed ever since the creation of Joss Whedon’s “Justice League.” It led to a huge tonal shift in DC and comedy became the centre of the universe. Now is that a good thing? Sure. Is that a bad thing? Sure. That depends on what you think about it. That’s your opinion. The Suicide Squad has been a Huge critical success and so has been the current DCEU films.

What does the Ayer Cut bring in here? A new voice. A tone that would work well with the tone of DC regardless if it is light hearted and fun like Aquaman or dark and gritty like the Joker. Does it change anything from the canon? No. Instead, it adds a detailed event that would lead upto the birds of prey storyline. And who wouldn’t wanna watch a character driven film rather than a comedic mess? Worked for the Snyder cut, can work for Ayer Cut. In my opinion, it can work even better than the Snyder cut. Ayer cut isn’t going soft with the toxicity it’s trying to criticize and can send a good message in the society that “abuse is not cool.”

So, should the dceu really move on from that tone? The answer is plain simple, considering how the fans of the light hearted films have been so supportive that the films barely recover their break even, It’d be amazing if fans of both the tones united and let the creators do their job. Both the tones can co exist and most importantly, DC can become what the competition can’t. A director driven universe.

That is a good competition considering every director’s voice in DC is successful if it stays unmeddled. The fans of both sides are angry because both sides criticize each side. Superman fans who were very attached with the Donner films ever since 1978 tend to hate on every adaptation ever and the ones who love those films in retaliation, hate on the 1978 film. That’s never going to go. But at least the DC universe will prosper if the creators are the ones calling the shots for their stories rather than people who think Superman needs a cape to fly.

“the snyder cut fandom proves that if you complain enough and harass enough people, you can get whatever you want, and that’s Dangerous”

If narrative should be seen from a rational perspective, isn’t that what happened to the fans in the first place? Wasn’t BvS review bombed and the creators were attacked personally by these professional critics and journalists and the toxic DC fandom that sent death threats to those who liked Snyder’s films? If snyder fandom is a terrorist, then what are these people? 

In conclusion, these petty cries of people who don’t want things to happen simply because they don’t like it aren’t ever going to stop. Looking towards the future is the only way. These so called journalists with their hit pieces against the Snyder fandom and the Ayer fandom aren’t going to stop being vocal about it and the Snyder fandom, well, a minority of it, isn’t going to stop criticizing the current DCEU that seems like a cul de sac considering how poorly they adapted the multiverse concept by making everything non canon.

But for what it’s worth, at least everyone will be invested in what they love and David Ayer can get his justice. He’s been hated for too long for something he did not do and it’s time that changes. So no, it is not the time to move on but if you feel like it, a blue pill is always an option. Let those who love, engage with it and those who don’t, ignore it and engage with something they love. 

Jainam Turakhia

Jainam Turakhia has been a fan of DC for as long as he can remember, but what really tickles his inner creativity is Zack Snyder's vision for the DC Universe. From there Turakhia has traveled to a lot of destinations exploring works of other artists who make movies or write books/comics. Zack Snyder however, is always his hometown. He loves watching, and analyzing, anything and everything. Still a student from India studying Chartered Accountancy, Turakhia's passion for stories doesn't seem to end.

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