As reviews—almost uniformly positive—for James Gunn’s new supervillain splatterfest The Suicide Squad begin to roll in, the film’s positive reputation is already beginning to cast some understandable (and unflattering) attention back at its 2016 predecessor. David Ayer’s Suicide Squad—if we can even call it that, which, more on that in a second—was received with a sort of tepid shrug when it arrived in between Batman V. Superman and Wonder Woman way back when, with its most eye-drawing feature being Jared Leto’s unpleasantly method approach to embodying the film’s abruptly truncated take on the Joker. Those elements that worked from Suicide Squad have since carefully been scooped out and harvested, most notably with the expansion of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn into her own film, while Gunn’s movie is clearly taking a “build-your-own” approach to the original’s characters and details. Ayer himself was reportedly unhappy with the treatment of his movie, though, and while the Training Day writer’s ire at Warner Bros. was swiftly eclipsed by the subsequent battles between Zack Snyder and the studio over Justice League, calls for “The Ayer Cut” have been a low-key element of the DC film fan revolt for years.
All of which appears to have culminated today, when Ayer posted a long letter on Twitter, apparently in response to seeing negative comparisons between his movie and Gunn’s. (For what it’s worth, he’s careful to not implicate Gunn in his ire, expressing his pride at his fellow director’s work in reviving the franchise. Both Gunn, and Birds Of Prey director Cathy Yan, responded to Ayer’s post with words of support.) Laying out the undeniably heavy details of his life story, including military service, poverty, violence, and worse, Ayer eventually pivots to talking about, well, his movie. By which he pretty clearly doesn’t mean the 2016 cut of Suicide Squad, which, he writes, “Is not my movie. Read that again.” Ayer asserts that his Suicide Squad—also not “the 10-week director’s cut that’s been reported on before”—is an “intricate and and emotional journey with some ‘bad people’ who are shit on and discarded.”
Among other things, Ayer states that his cut, which was edited by Lee Smith from work done by the film’s original editor, John Gilroy, is built entirely around Steven Price’s “brilliant score, with not a single radio song in the whole thing.” That’s an obvious slam on the stuffed soundtrack of the eventual product, an attempt to market the movie as a chaotic and Skrillex-backed good time. Ayer has previously talked about how the success of Deadpool caused execs to try to reshape his movie into a light-hearted, high energy comedy pretty much completely against his will, a transformation that can be easily tracked by going from the film’s original Comic-Con tease (built around a slow, creepy cover of “I Started A Joke”) to the “Bohemian Rhapsody”-tracked first official trailer for the film. (Whether either of these movies actually look like a good time is largely an academic issue at this point.)
Ayer’s film, he asserts, “has traditional character arcs, amazing performances, a solid 3rd act resolution. A handful of people have seen it. If someone says they have seen it, they haven’t.” Ayer made public calls last year, when The Snyder Cut of Justice League was announced, to have his own film get similar treatment by Warner. But all of that is apparently done now: After having “my heart torn out” over the studio edit of the film, Ayer says he will “no longer speak publicly on this matter,” meaning that this letter is presumably his final word, both on the film itself, and on those who inevitably drag it for not living up to its follow-up.