Suicide Squad director David Ayer is still angling for a Zack Snyder-style director’s cut, claiming that Warner Bros. made drastic changes to his original vision for the film. His latest comments take aim at DC/Warner Bros. executive Geoff Johns, a longtime DC Comics writer/producer who was recently accused of racist and abusive workplace behavior by Justice League actor Ray Fisher.
In response to a Twitter question about which scene was “toughest to leave on the cutting room floor” for Suicide Squad, David Ayer replied, “The first 40 minutes,” adding, “It was ripped to pieces – I can’t emphasize that enough.”
Ayer explained that “studio leadership panicked” after Batman v Superman got negative reviews compared to the critical praise for Deadpool, a Marvel production. This resulted in major changes to Suicide Squad, with Johns writing new pages of the script that Ayer had to reshoot.
Ayer has hinted several times that he already made his own unseen cut of Suicide Squad, arguing that it’s much better than the theatrical version and more in line with what fans expected from the film’s early trailers. The original plan was for Suicide Squad to be a serious drama, but the final film had a more comedic tone and reportedly cut much of Jared Leto‘s role as the Joker.
Johns is an influential figure within the DC franchise, working as president of DC Entertainment from 2010 to 2018 after more than a decade of writing comics. He also has extensive experience in film and TV, writing for Smallville, Arrow, and The Flash, and acting as showrunner for the recently-launched Stargirl. At Warner Bros.’ DCEU franchise, he was among the producers for all the live-action movies after Batman v Superman in 2016 and is credited as the co-writer for Wonder Woman 1984.
The fact that Ayer is speaking so publicly against Johns is a surprise. It could be a sign that Johns is on the way out after the ongoing scandal regarding Ray Fisher and Justice League—or it could just mean that Ayer is courting controversy on social media, hoping to drum up support for a Snyder Cut-style campaign. At any rate, these internal Warner Bros. disputes are a lot more public than we’re used to seeing at a Hollywood studio, leveraging DC fandom support in a conflict between studio executives and creatives like Snyder and Ayer.
As it stands, there are no plans for an Ayer Cut release on HBO Max or elsewhere. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is already costing Warner Bros. tens of millions, and it’s hard to imagine the studio doing the same for Suicide Squad, a film that will soon be overshadowed by a semi-reboot directed by Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn.