If you’ve seen Barbie, and I know you have, you know one of the biggest laugh lines is when a Barbie awakened from an FHM magazine fever swamp says “It’s like I’ve been in a dream where I was really invested in the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League.” The Snyder Cut (which I really enjoyed), a four hour recutting of Snyder’s Justice League minus the Joss Whedon bits, was a strange artifact of the pandemic and early streaming wars, and just who and how it happened are still being debated.

But it isn’t over. And it never will be. Because there’s still the matter of The Ayer Cut of Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad was released back in 2016, and aside from having a gorgeous marketing campaign, it was also a bit of a mess, as many WB superhero films are in one fashion or another. Rewrites, reshoots, rethinking…however it all happened the result was a film more known for its laughable darkness and Cara Delevingne‘s wild eyebrows than a being a fun time in the theater.

But ever since The Snyder Cut was constructed (at a cost of $70 million), Suicide Squad director David Ayer has been talking about getting HIS cut of the film released. And an internet chorus is always there to back him up on it.

What with Warner Bros. Discovery not having much surplus cash sitting around these days, the chances of this happening seem slimmer and slimmer…and the need for a version of the film where Jared Leto’s Joker does more disgusting things is highly debatable.

But we still have Twitter (I refuse to call it X) to give life to every stray thought, and people will talk….and with the James Gunn Era taking over at WBD, Ayer has once again made his case….and even said Gunn might be in on it. The latest campaign began (with a method Snyder tested) when Ayer released a little seen still of Leto’s Joker…yuck. And then Ayer tweeted: 

What’s your advice on how to navigate this situation with grace? There’s a genuine curiosity and interest from a lot of people. And I’m aware of there is another group of people that have fun mocking the film. Your comment is a perfect example of how many are magnetically drawn discussion to the 2016 film in a negative way. Have you ever had an experience in life that didn’t until the way you wanted, that dragged you, that made you rethink everything?

I have.

All I know is my unseen film plays much better than the studio release. The interest in my cut being show seems real and organic. And Gunn told me it would have it’s time to be shared. He absolutely deserves to launch to launch his DC universe without more drama about old projects. In a way I’m chained to this thing. I’m riding a tiger here and navigating this situation the best I can. Life is a very strange journey. Welcome to my Ted talk💁🏻‍♂️

In response to a fan who wrote: “The scene I am most excited to see is the subway fight between the Squad and Joker. I want to see Harley reject him to his face” Ayer replied, “That was the entire point of the film😔

Other elements that Ayer’s film included that didn’t make to the released version include a Harley Quinn/Deadshot romance, and what Ayer has called “an 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.”

Ayer sensibly acknowledges that James Gunn and Peter Safran have other things to do in launching a whole new DCU movie-verse that people will want to see. But it sounds like Gunn gave him some encouragement at some point…so the dream will never quite die. While I have very little interest in seeing a different version of Suicide Squad, I am a big softie, and I do feel some sympathy for Ayer’s frustration with the movie that was released. He hasn’t made many movies since Suicide Squad (according to IMDB, some TV The Tax Collector and an upcoming actioner, The Beekeeper.) It must be difficult knowing your big shot got mangled.

And as regular Beat readers know from my occasional looks at what’s going on at WBD, if there’s a wrong way to do it and a right way to screw it up, no one does it like the DCEU, from the Justice League disaster to the Rock/Black Adam interregnum, to The Flash disaster and beyond.

Suicide Squad was a perfect example of this. According to one account, the original was dark and gritty…but the studio wanted something more lighthearted, like Deadpool…and the trailer. So they hired the people who made the trailer to recut Suicide Squad, which sounds heartbreaking if you’re the director. And then:

Responding to audience feedback, the studio spent millions of dollars on reshoots, steering the film in Trailer Park’s direction and away from Ayer’s original vision, cutting an overwhelming number of original scenes. 

Kim Masters has a fuller account:

In May, Ayer’s more somber version and a lighter, studio-favored version were tested with audiences in Northern California. “If there are multiple opinions that aren’t in sync, you go down multiple tracks — two tracks at least,” says an insider. “That was the case here for a period of time, always trying to get to a place where you have consensus.” Those associated with the film insist Ayer agreed to and participated in the process. Once feedback on the two versions was analyzed, it became clear it was possible to get to “a very common-ground place.” (The studio-favored version with more characters introduced early in the film and jazzed-up graphics won.) Getting to that place of consensus, however, required millions of dollars’ worth of additional photography.

Other sources describe a fraught process — one cites “a lot of panic and ego instead of calmly addressing the tonal issue.” Clearly all wasn’t sitting right with Ayer, who in June suddenly dropped his longtime agent at CAA and defected to WME, though the agency won him back in a day. “He was under a lot — a lot — of pressure,” says one person with knowledge of the situation, arguing that Ayer was exhausted and needed time to process conflicting ideas.

Well that sounds pretty nightmarish, and par for the course for WB execs who go into a queasy panic when something superhero-related confuses them. Suicide Squad was also a victim of growing unease that the original Snyder-verse was off track, after a lackluster reaction to Batman v Superman. 

So yeah, I have sympathy for Ayer in all this.

I just don’t want to see any more Jared Leto Joker. Can’t you just LET IT LIE?????

All this will undoubtedly hibernate until the NEW DCU gets properly released with Superman: Legacy in, ulp, 2025 (IF the strikes end in time.) But still, all of this runs deep. Gunn, you will recall, made his own film with some of the same characters, the perplexingly titled THE Suicide Squad, which is one of my all-time favorite superhero movies. Barbie‘s Snyder Cut joke gets more edge when you recall producer-star Margot Robbie played Harley and…man, it’s more complicated than Vanderpump Rules.

And meanwhile, just to check in on some of the other dramatis personae of this soap opera, Dwayne Johnson is still wondering why Black Adam failed. On a chat show with Kevin Hart, he opened up about the film’s failure:

“‘Black Adam’ got caught in a vortex of new leadership,” Johnson said when Hart asked how it felt for franchise to be stopped. “It was so many changes in leadership. Anytime you have a company, a publicly traded company, and you have all those changes in leadership, you have people coming in who, creatively and fiscally, are going to make decisions that you may not agree with.”

Johnson stressed that his “Black Adam” franchise got “caught in the web of new leadership,” but he still doesn’t completely understand why the character got dropped given what he views as the film’s multiple success points.

“That will always be one of the biggest mysteries,” Johnson said. “You have the biggest opening of your career. Sure, no China, which could’ve been maybe 100 or 200 million more dollars. You have a superhero and you want to grow out the franchise. You bring back Superman and Henry Cavill, which the world went crazy. And we created a diverse superhero portfolio, where we have just men and women of color in ‘Black Adam.’”

DUDE, LET IT GO! You’re Dwayne Johnson! There is no mystery: it was a flop.

Finally, December’s Aquaman 2 (too tired to type the whole title) is reportedly troubled and had many reshoots and rewrites…will we someday hear a clamor for the James Wan cut of this one? The mind reels.

It’s a good thing James Gunn already has white hair…with all these dueling egos swirling it’s a wonder he has any hair left.