That teaser does not inspire much confidence, but the question stands – is 13 extra minutes of extended footage enough to make Suicide Squad a better film? Will anything short of a 100% re-edited version of the film be enough to appease the multitude of haters (and also some fans) the film has created?
These are the questions that have been baking in my brain since Warner Brothers announced the Extended Cut of the film last week. I was not surprised when I heard it was coming; I figured it was a foregone assumption at this point. They won back almost everyone with their Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in July, reinstating 30(!) minutes of footage that gave 95% of the characters actual motivation missing almost entirely from the theatrical version. So why not go back to the well with Suicide Squad?
While I did not love the film, I can readily admit the public beating Suicide Squad took from the critics and across social media was uncalled for. Yes the trailers were awesome, and yes it was over hyped. But that is not nearly enough reason to declare the film to be one of the worst ever made. That claim is all the more dubious since it was released after worse movies like Independence Day: Resurgence (a film I seem to have a seething hate for), Alice Through the Looking Glass, X-Men: Apocalypse, and the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters (which was so uninspired and lazy it still hurts me to think about it). Pouring even more salt on the wound, this so-called worst movie ever was released literally two weeks before the useless remake of Ben-Hur, which was a film that was universally panned by just about everyone who had the misfortune of watching it. Thankfully, I dodged that bullet.
Somehow I did not learn that same lesson with Suicide Squad, and ended up seeing the film twice – but thankfully only paid for it once. Like most mediocre films, the second viewing really magnified everything that left a bad taste in my mouth the first time. Here’s a fun list of issues I had just off the top of my head, packed with fun spoilers:
- Why are Deadshot and Harley Quinn introduced three separate times in the opening 30 minutes? And why is the film called Suicide SQUAD if the focus is mainly on these two wayward souls?
- Why does everyone in the Squad get some sort of actual introduction with a fun song, but Slipknot just kind of shows up, punches a woman and then dies ten minutes later?
- Why did anyone choose Enchantress as the main villain, and whose bright idea was it to cast relatively untested supermodel Cara Delevingne and her eyebrows in such a crucial role?
- Why are we shown the scene with Enchantress betraying Rick Flag, and then reshown the scene nearly 45 minutes later like it’s some kind of shocking revelation?
- Why does the film feature 3(!) separate helicopter crash scenes?
- What is this preposterous family nonsense El Diablo is going on about, seconds before sacrificing himself for a team who could care less about his death? Did he even die?
- Why did Scott Eastwood not reset the timer to the bomb he has to trigger, and why was the timer only set for 2 seconds in the first place? And does he die in the ensuing blast?
- And why the hell is this love sick Joker in the film in the first place?
I could probably write paragraphs on paragraphs about these problems, but I am sure you likely have even more reasons why you disliked it. And if you are one of those fans that want to just write the film off by saying it’s a fun romp and nothing more, then I fear for your opinion on movies featuring logic, accountability and clear editing. For all its problems, at least I always understood what the hell was happening in Man of Steel.
And this is where I feel all of the blame for this lies solely with Warner. After the backlash they received over the nearly incomprehensible theatrical version of Batman v Superman, they went back and recut Suicide Squad into oblivion. David Ayer may claim this is his cut of the film, but we all know that’s complete bullshit. Would the director of brutally violent and insanely dark action pictures like End of Watch, Fury and Sabotage really create a neutered comic book film like this? Hell, his screenplay for the all but forgotten big screen version of S.W.A.T. with Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson had more balls than Suicide Squad did.
But I cannot blame Ayer for wanting to save face – I’m certain he wants to work again and not become the next Josh Trank.
So I say all of this, only to come back to my original point – is 13 extra minutes really going to solve all of Suicide Squad’s problems? No, probably not. I already have an idea of what this footage will contain having watched Ayer and crew filming in downtown Toronto in spring 2015, not to mention paying more attention than I should have to all of the amateur paparazzi photos and videos. The teaser shows the motorcycle chase with Harley and Joker, but I already have my doubts whether it will end with him smacking her or not (since the misogyny and abusive tendencies inherent to many of these characters seem to be what was excised the most). Here’s hoping they include the scene with Joker holding the grenade that sets off the unwarranted family speech at the end of the film. Otherwise, what the hell is the point?
While I know Warner is hungry for money just like every other company, I desperately want to know why this Extended Cut of Suicide Squad needs to exist in the first place. Why are they so adverse to releasing longer films all of a sudden? Batman v Superman was released theatrically at 151 minutes, with the Ultimate Edition clocking in at 183 minutes. Suicide Squad was 123 minutes for its theatrical release, and now will be 136 minutes for its Extended Cut.
Both films made less money in North America and worldwide than The Dark Knight, which clocked in at 152 minutes, and The Dark Knight Rises, which came in at 164 minutes. Lest we forget, The Dark Knight remains the benchmark all comic book films continue to be compared to. Even if we look outside of Warner and Batman-related films, James Cameron’s Avatar is the second highest grossing film of all time in North America and is still the reigning Worldwide champion. It clocks in at 162 minutes—and it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards!
So whatever nonsense Warner wants to spew to make these longer cuts more acceptable, whether it involves needing to pack more showings per day to maximise revenue, adding needless 3D conversions or genuinely being convinced these theatrical cuts are actually worth the effort it took to create them – it’s all bullshit, because audiences will pay to see a quality product no matter how long it is (Avatar was made with 3D in mind, so I’ll give that film a pass). And continuing to force these same audiences to pay to see the inferior version on the big screen and then pay again to see the actual good version online or on Blu-ray months later is infuriating and downright offensive. They waited too long to make Justice League and its obvious how desperate they are to catch up to Marvel now. But if these Extended Editions is how they plan to do it, then I think I may have to bow out of watching them.
And I say this as a huge fan of Ben Affleck and an even bigger fan of Batman.
Recommendation of the Week: The Birth of a Nation, the historical drama from first-time director Nate Parker that finally hit theatres this past weekend after months of controversy. This is an unconventional pick for the geek crowd, but it is a film worth seeing despite how you might feel about the man and what he is accused of. The filmmaking is powerful and heavily flawed, packed with blisteringly well done performances from every speaking role. It is a film that is regrettably all too timely and relevant to ignore, about a subject I feel so many people have no idea ever existed. Its Oscar chances have likely been destroyed, but do not let it pass you by.