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Suicide Squad: David Ayer Releases Candid Statement Ahead of James Gunn’s Sequel Debut

Suicide Squad, DCU, DC Comics
By Russ Milheim

The Suicide Squad is merely days away, a film that fans have been excited about for quite some time. When it was announced that Warner Bros. had gotten James Gunn on board, there was hope that the franchise could be turned around. After his work on Guardians of the Galaxy, the odds of a successful movie were pretty high.

In fact, critics have already seen the film. Not only has it initially gotten positive reactions, the film still holds an incredible rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It certainly seems like Warner Brothers have hit the jackpot.

Of course, as alluded to above, this isn't the first film to focus on DC Comics' infamous team of unwilling super villains. In 2016, David Ayer helmed Suicide Squad, a film which, needless to say, did not do so well. Fans have been eagerly anticipating an Ayer Cut to undo Warner Bros meddling in the 2016 version of the film, but it's unclear if this will actually release.

Ahead of the release of Gunn's new take on the team, Ayer has released a statement, one in which he claims will be the last he "speak[s] publically on the matter."


Suicide Squad

David Ayer, director of 2016's Suicide Squad, has taken to Twitter to make one last statement before the release of James Gunn's The Suicide Squad.

Tim Grierson, a critic for Screen Daily, made a post on Twitter where he said that at many points while watching Gunns' new film, he had thought to himself that "'David Ayer should just abandon the idea of that director's cut."

This clearly struck a chord with Ayer, as he was compelled enough to respond with a three-page statement, one in which he claimed would be the last time that he spoke publically on the matter.

In the three-page statement, Ayer started out by saying that he doesn't "know what quit is." Then he started listing off hardships throughout his life, such as his "pops committed suicide Christmas morning when [he] was 4," and having been "bodies, blood, heads busted open, watched people die" while on the streets growing up. 

"I don't know what quit is. I am not who you think I am. Nothing in my life was handed to me it's been a struggle from the jump. My pops committed suicide Christmas morning when I was 4 in Miami. And that was just the beginning. Foster care. Abuse. Disruption. Chaos. I went to more schools than I can count. What's stability? I was in South LA doing hoodrat shit as a kid. Got arrested. LA County probation forever - Had to take the bus to Crenshaw and Exposition to see the Gang Lady twice a month. But that didn't stop me from doing a lot of stupid and dangerous shit. I was the kid everyone just knew was going to end up dead or in prison. And I was in the right Hood for it. I've seen bodies, blood, heads busted open, watched people die. Stepped over brains on the sidewalk to catch my bus. Been shot at more times than I can remember. Got my ass beat by LAPD (batons yo). One of the first crackhouses in LA was on my block."

Ayer aimed to turn it around by "join[ing] the Navy and serv[ing] on a nuclear submarine." From what Ayer describes, the experience didn't provide him any happy memories, but it did succeed in "learn[ing] discipline... and... a work ethic:"

"... (Rolling 20's Hood). I dropped out of High School and was every day in the streets holding a wall up on a bodega. Took someone dying in my arms covered in their blood and vomit to wake me up. So I joined the Navy and served on a nuclear submarine. And I saw more. And experienced things that seared my soul. Try 67 days
underwater in a steel tube when you're running out of food. The Navy broke me. And the Navy saved me. (I learned discipline and the Navy gave me a work ethic). I lived in Sinaloa, Baja Califas, bounced back and forth. Worked any job I could after that. Housepainting. Construction. Electrician."

Thanks to a man named Wesley Strick, who is a screenwriter known for his work on Man In The High Castle and 2001's Hitch, Ayer's path led him to screenwriting—where he inevitably created his breakout film: Training Day. According to Ayer, Strick "saved [his] life:"

"I started writing screenplays because someone saw something in me I didn't (Wesley Strick thank you saved my life). I wrote and I wrote. And I got sucked back into the streets. Smoking PCP and cruising in my Olds Cutlass. I didn't have a refridgerator, I didn't have a bed. I had nothing, didn't file tax returns for seven years. I had no future. And I figured I was just burning time until I caught a case and got locked up."

Ayer continued on, explaining how his experiences bled into what he wrote. In fact, all of his stories are "where Training Day came from... [he] saw it happen:"

"That's where Training Day came from. I saw it happen. I heard all the neighborhood stories. I wrote them down. I poured my soul on the page. And when someone offered me 30K for the rights I laughed. But Training Day was special. Of course no one believed it at the time. The nice Hollywood folks refused to believe cops could be that corrupt."

Hollywood was naive, as the big Rampart Scandal happened, something that changed the minds of the Studios'. However, even then, it "took years to get [Training Day] made," but when it did, it "changed [his] life:"

"Then the Rampart Scandal happened and yeah they realized maybe it's real. Took years to get that movie made and it changed my life. The lesson of that script - put your pain on the page. That is why I tell stories, I've seen life I've seen people. I've seen the the bad do good and the good do bad. I write about my lived truth. And I take the risk - Like putting my house on the line to direct my first movie."

Putting his foot down, David Ayer confidently puts his foot down, saying that he "put [his] life into Suicide Squad," and his "cut is intricate and emotional...:"

"I put my life into Suicide Squad. 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 incredibly 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 3rd Act resolution. A handful of people have seen it. If someone says they have seen it, they haven't."

Quitting is something Ayer once again says that he doesn't know how to do. According to him, he thought his "story was going to end in a grave or a cell long ago:"

"So yeah, should be clear by now I dan't have any quit in me. Never have. And why should I? Every day breathing is a gift. I though my story was going to end in a grave or a cell long ago. So these I'm living are bonus rounds. I'm so honored and blessed to have the career I do. Quit? After my kids watched me come home every day after the studio takeover of the edit with my heart torn out? Who would I be to them if I quit?"

Concluding his statement, Ayer made it clear that he completely supports The Suicide Squad, and is "so proud of James and excited for the success that's coming:"

"I've never told my side of the story and I never will. Why? Same reason no one will ever know what happened on my submarine. I keep my covenents. 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. Real talk I'd rather get shot at.
I'm so proud of James and excited for the success that's coming. 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 Jame's brilliant work will be the miracles of miracles. I appreciate your patience. I will no longer speak publicly on this matter."


As Ayer mentions in his message, the critical and fan backlash against Suicide Squad was intensely negative and led to the film's downward spiral. One that made it seem like the franchise was dead in the water.

With Zack Snyder's Justice League, a precedent has been set. One that has turned its head towards Ayer's vision of the infamous team led by Harley Quinn. Fans have been clamoring for an Ayer cut, much in the same way that Synder got.

Sadly for fans, that doesn't look to be happening, especially after a message like this from the director. On a more positive note, Ayer is whole-heartedly backing Gunn's new creative vision, one that seems to be striking all the right cords.

There's a very good chance the world will see more Suicide Squad films in the future. As for now, The Suicide Squad releases on August 6, 2021, both on HBO Max and Theaters worldwide.