The early reviews are in — and many are lambasting Suicide Squad for being a tonal mess. A new report released by The Hollywood Reporter today claims to have the answer as to how that came about, and it apparently has a lot to do with audiences' less-than-stellar reaction to Batman v Superman — and WB's worried reaction to that. The extensive report — sourced through comments from unnamed Warner Bros. insiders, so grain of salt and so on — cites a bevy of stresses about the production of the movie, from an alleged rush to meet its August 2016 release date to a supposed concern about David Ayer's ability to handle an effects-driven winter blockbuster.
But worries about the approach Ayer was taking with the film apparently got even more heated when Warner Bros. were blindsided by the vicious critical response to Batman v Superman earlier this year:
A source with knowledge of events says Warners executives, nervous from the start, grew more anxious after they were blindsided and deeply rattled by the tepid response to BvS. "Kevin [Tsujihara, Warner Bros. CEO] was really pissed about damage to the brand," says one executive close to the studio. A key concern for Warners executives was that Suicide Squad didn't deliver on the fun, edgy tone promised in the strong teaser trailer for the film. So while Ayer pursued his original vision, Warners set about working on a different cut, with an assist from Trailer Park, the company that had made the teaser.
The concern lead to two alleged rival cuts of the film — one, Ayer's darker take on the group of villainous misfits, the other a romp that focused on splashy effects and pop-song-infused humour that resonated in the movie's early trailers. They were both screened for test audiences, until eventually a compromise between the two cuts was found — one that would need extensive reshoots to meld the two wildly different films together, hence the vaunted reports of reshoots that were claimed to "add humour" to the film earlier this year:
In May, Ayer's more somber version and a lighter, studio-favoured 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 analysed, it became clear it was possible to get to "a very common-ground place." (The studio-favoured 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.
The whole thing is definitely worth a read at the link below — and it certainly offers a good reason for the consistent critique in reviews of how Suicide Squad feels like two very different films mushed together. Suffice to say if these allegations are true, there's probably a lot more pressure on Wonder Woman and Justice League to excel now than there already was.