Much like Batman v Superman, reviews for DC/Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad have been less than glowing (you can read our take on it here). But what managed to stay under the rug until very last minute was all the apparent behind-the-scenes drama that took place during filming.
At this point, you’ve read about all the stories from the set of last year’s abomination, Fantastic Four, like how Josh Trank showed up to the sets drunk and they needed to do reshoots with Kate Mara in an obvious wig. But everything seemed fine with Suicide Squad. Sure, Batman v Superman was a letdown but the trailers looked amazing and the cast is incredible!
Well apparently there was trouble in paradise, and it shows in the finished product.
David Ayer was hired to write and direct the film in October 2014 and was given just six weeks to write the script, which would explain some of the wooden dialogue and introduction by forced exposition (golden rule of screenwriting: show, don’t tell). There is also the fact Ayer had never helmed a big budget blockbuster before, and while this trend is nothing new (Colin Trevorrow with Jurassic World or Gareth Edwards with Godzilla) it can crash and burn (see, Trank and Fan4stic).
What also didn’t help were the brilliant trailers for Suicide Squad that depicted a colorful, relatively upbeat and comical tale. After backlash to Batman v Superman (that was apparently shocking to the Warner Bros. suits), they scattered because despite what the trailers showed, Suicide Squad was actually just as dark and brooding as Man of Steel and BvS. So they spent millions of dollars to reshoot it (and yes, it was to add more “fun,” not “standard procedure” as Ayer tried to spin it) and actually created two different versions of the film.
One lighter version was edited by the company that had been making the trailers, Trailer Park; this was never a good idea, as trailer editors are in the business of sales, not coherent filmmaking. The other was by Ayer and his team, which was his more somber edition, and apparently the two sides agreed on a version in the middle, which is code for “the tone of the film is going to be all over the place,” which it is.
In between all this there was a lot of sweating from Ayer to get his movie right and by the Warner Bros. executives to not have a third straight critical bomb on their hands, and it appears that neither of them got their wish. Suicide Squad looks like it is destined to be a replica of Batman v Superman in almost every sense. A big, triple digit opening weekend and then no legs at the box office, finish around $800 million and divide fans on if it is brilliant dedication to the comics or a swing-and-a-miss yet again by DC.
It isn’t a hilarious dumpster fire like Fantastic Four, in both quality of the finished product or behind the scenes drama, but it seems the people in the offices of Warner Bros. in Los Angeles really need to find their own Kevin Feige, and fast.