David Ayer Disavows 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’: ‘The Studio Cut Is Not My Movie’

Director speaks out after this year’s “The Suicide Squad” revives criticism of earlier movie

suicide squad (2016)
Warner Bros.

David Ayer has made no secret of his dislike for “Suicide Squad,” the 2016 film he directed that was released to lots of money but not-so-super reviews. But the upcoming release of James Gunn’s sequel/soft reboot, “The Suicide Squad,” has revived criticism of the original film — and, for some reason, him. And as a result, he’s made his longest public statement yet about it. 

In short, he unambiguously disavowed “Suicide Squad” as “not my movie.”

On Wednesday night, film critic Tim Grierson randomly tweeted “Many times while watching the new movie, I thought, ‘Yeah, David Ayer should just abandon the idea of that director’s cut.’” Grierson was referring to Ayer’s public statements in 2020 asking Warner Bros. and then-parent company AT&T to release his original version of the film, which he called a “Soulful drama” that was “beaten into a ‘comedy.’”

Ayer responded to Grierson on Thursday with a lengthy statement, not only defending himself and bashing the movie, but also breaking down what he’d actually intended before, as he explains it, Warner Bros. essentially took the film away from him.

Ayers described his rough life prior to his breakout success writing “Training Day,” and the sacrifices he made to transition to a directing career before getting to the main point: “I put my life into ‘Suicide Squad,’” he wrote. “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,” he continued. “A handful of people have seen it. If someone says they have seen it, they haven’t.” 

Although Gilroy was ultimately credited on the theatrical version, Warner Bros’ unorthodox decision to commission multiple cuts of the film was widely publicized during post-production. In his note, Ayer detailed nights of coming home to his kids after the studio had taken over the edit “with my heart torn out.”

“I never told my side of the story and never will … I’m old school like that. So I kept my mouth shut and took the tsunami of sometimes shockingly personal criticism. Why? That’s what I’ve done my whole life,” Ayer recalled before adding, “Real talk I’d rather get shot at.” 

Ayer concluded by saying he will no longer speak publicly on the matter. Whether this means he’ll continue to push for the release of his original cut remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Ayer doesn’t have any hard feelings about James Gunn or the much more enthusiastic response his take on the “Suicide Squad” franchise has received. “I’m so proud of James and excited for the success that’s coming,” he said. “I support WB and am thrilled the franchise is getting the legs it needs. I’m rooting for everyone, the cast, the crew. Every movie is a miracle. And James’s brilliant work will be the miracle of miracles.”

The feeling is mutual, by the way. “All my love and admiration, friend,” Gunn said in response to Ayer’s statement.

The release of Zack Snyder’s “Snyder Cut” of his equally-maligned “Batman V. Superman” in March renewed calls for Ayer’s version of “Suicide Squad.” However, when Variety asked Warner Media CEO Ann Sarnoff if the studio would ever unleash the “Ayer Cut,” she shot it down. 

When the story was published, Ayer tweeted, “Why?”

“The Suicide Squad” hits theaters and HBO Max on August 6. 



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