In a week full of short posts, this is going to be a longer one. It just happened that way. Those of you who just showed up, even I’m not usually this verbose but this is still a bit more typical of BW content. Also, thanks for the follow. I hope you enjoy what I normally do around here.
Let me state for the record that I have so little interest in the Suicide Squad in general, even in the comics, that this image from the “what were they thinking” team-up with the re-imagined Banana Splits comic (still a better idea than that childhood-hating horror movie I’m surprised WB allowed) is literally the only image I have from it. I never cared about the comic about supervillains being forced to do morally questionable missions for the US Government because nothing about that sentence matters to me outside of “comic” and “the US Government”, and that last part is only because I’m an American. I don’t care about supervillains, I don’t care about morally questionable missions, and I don’t care about the Suicide Squad. I only want to see supervillains losing to superheroes. So no matter who makes the movie or how good it is I don’t care.
Instead this is about statements made in an article for SlashFilm by BJ Colangeo entitled “Releasing The Ayer Cut Or, Why Giving The Fans What They Want Isn’t Actually A Good Idea“. There seems to be this war lately against fans actually expecting something they enjoy to resemble something they enjoy when adapted to other or updated media…usually by people who never enjoyed the original in the first place and the replacement is totally something they do. That or the idea that a “shill media” will kiss the butt of whomever will give them the best interview clicks for their ad revenue isn’t so farfetched. Well, my host is the only one making money off these ads so I don’t care about that either, and the only access I get is at conventions, if even that sometimes.
I’m a fan, and I approach stories as a fan, as a writer, and as a critic. If you don’t care about existing fans you should just make something new and find your own fans. The featured topic here is the supposed “Ayer Cut” of James Ayer’s Suicide Squad, something that only came up after Zack Snyder broke out his cut of Justice League, a movie that had been re-edited by Joss Whedon and unsurprisingly the contrasting tones made for a subpar film. Instead Snyder got the depressing, colorless, “my superheroes are totally realistic because they kill as they fly around punching genetically created monsters from another world”, overly long, totally anachronistic to what the DC Universe has always been that we classic DC Comics fans knew it would be. Still, the Snyder fan base wanted his cut and HBO Max wanted subscribers, so Zack won. Now James Ayer wants the same “redemption” with the version of his Suicide Squad he allegedly wanted to make. Colangeo doesn’t think that’s a good idea and on that we agree. It’s the reason why this is a bad idea where we part company.
David Ayer has been very vocal about his disappointment with the release of 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” a film he was only given six weeks to write and one that received a flurry of highly publicized re-shoots after “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was nailed by critics and audiences for being “too somber.” Warner Bros. decided that Ayer’s cut of “Suicide Squad” was too dark, and instead wanted the film to resemble the lighthearted and comedic energy delivered by the film’s trailers. Warner Bros. spent an approximate $22 million in re-shoots, and according to Ayer, the film that ended up on screen was almost unrecognizable compared to what he had delivered.
I wonder about the truth of that statement. As Colangeo notes later:
The reshoots Warner Bros. made for “Suicide Squad” were not a secret, but upon the film’s release, Ayer defended the theatrical cut and claimed it as his own. “This cut of the movie is my cut, there’s no sort of parallel universe version of the movie, the released movie is my cut,” he said in an interview with Collider. That interview was shortly after the film’s release, however, where directors aren’t usually willing to tell the full truth about their experience in production. After this year’s release of James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” far surpassed the critical response of his own film, Ayer took to Twitter to deliver a biting essay completely slamming the film he had previously defended as his own.
Ayer’s version was heavily criticized and from what I’ve heard deserved it. It gave us a bad version of Harley Quinn that actress Margot Robbie just happened to enjoy so much that she extended that mistake to DC’s Gotham-based all girl superteam the Birds Of Prey. What she to Cassandra Cain alone was just shy of criminal and she didn’t do Huntress or Black Canary any favors either. Meanwhile, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad apparently was really well liked and John Cena is getting a spin-off based on his take on Peacemaker, which I’m also sure was just as inaccurate based on Warner Brothers’ current history with their DC adaptations. Is James Gunn a better director, was he luckier, did he just make a more fun movie that made more sense, or does he have a larger fan base? I’d have to watch the movie to see and I redirect you to my opening statement.
There’s no real benefit for Warner Bros. to go back and release the cut of a film whose story has already progressed, especially when the released cut not only scored them a massive payday, but also earned an Academy Award (for its make-up effects). (WarnerMedia Studios CEO Ann) Sarnoff justified the decision to release the Snyder Cut as a way to complete his trilogy, but noted “We’re very happy we’ve done this, but we’re very excited about the plans we have for all the multi-dimensional DC characters that are being developed right now.”
Understand why the Snyder Cut was made in the first place. Zack Snyder had a vision for the DC universe that was at odds with the actual pre-Dan DiDio DC universe (a tone that DC Comics seems to have chosen not to return to as they continue to double down on DiDio’s Darker DC rather than bringing back even the Rebirth period) and it wasn’t doing Warner Brothers any favors. Man Of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice were both depressing takes on what is usually a lighter and more fun comic universe, with bright colors nonexistent and sunlight only showing up for a brief symbolism moment or a haze in the air keeping anything from actually being bright. That’s Snyder’s style and aces to him as it works for his own stuff as well as the two comic adaptations that got him the gig, Watchmen and 300. This was the tone set for Justice League but after the death of his daughter during post-production, Snyder rightfully took time out to mourn and get affairs in order.
Warner Brothers took that opportunity to attempt to course correct the so-called “DC Extended Universe” by bringing in Joss Whedon to alter Justice League, which turned out to be a clash of tones and didn’t really make anybody happy, especially the “Snyder bros” who clearly prefer Snyder’s bastardized take on Superman and Batman. (Just calling it like I see it. You’d probably call what I would do with Sucker Punch the same thing because mine would have more colors and less disturbing things. Being good at one thing doesn’t mean you’re good at everything. Jane Austin and Mary Shelley didn’t play in each other’s genre, or if they did it’s not what made them famous.) Both sides only saw half the movie they wanted, and since Whedon took the blame and the cast were all on Snyder’s side (because they didn’t care about the DC superheroes either while Ray Fisher wanted his Victor “don’t call me Cyborg” Stone to get more screentime and had issues with Whedon’s directing) you won’t see a full Whedon cut, while Zack only had to supposedly finish up a few details. I have a hard time believing, given the length of the Snyder Cut, that this is what we got. I think he took the opportunity to add stuff he wanted that wouldn’t have been in the actual theatrical release for time purposes. Even the recliners they use in theaters now are only comfortable for so long and you can only get so much popcorn and soft drink before the bathroom calls you away.
James Ayer however did not have that advantage. People did not like his take on the Suicide Squad and he doesn’t have his own “Whedon” to blame for it. I think he just wants to try again and make something Synder fans might like, but as Colangeo says, the sequel was already made and already praised by Gunn fans and casual fans who don’t read comics, if not actual DC fans. Snyder’s Justice League was the last movie of the “Snyderverse” while the other movies were attempting to distance themselves from his tone. Ayer really doesn’t have the opening that Snyder did to get WarnerMedia to give him the same courtesy. A proper director’s cut, if indeed there’s space for one, doesn’t have the potential to bring in new HBO Max subscribers like WarnerMedia was hoping for with the Snyder Cut fan base and there’s no evidence that it would be an improvement since outside of technical fixes and pleasing the Snyder fan base neither the director’s cut of Batman V Superman: Real Superheroes Would Totally Murder Dudes nor Justice League Marathon really did them any favors with DC fans.
Speaking of fans, here’s the title for the fan section of the article:
Being A Huge Fan Doesn’t Qualify Someone To Make Creative Decisions
And now the party starts, folks.
Imagine it’s Super Bowl Sunday and your favorite team is playing. Chances are, you and everyone else in the room has been watching this team for years. You know all of the players’ strengths and weaknesses, and your home and wardrobe is filled with signs of your dedication to the team. Suddenly, you look at the screen, and your favorite team is losing. What happens? You shout at the screen. You insult the coach’s intelligence. You and everyone in the room start debating over what plays they should run to overcome the odds and win the game. Sure, you might have some really great ideas, but ultimately, you’re not the coach, you’re a spectator, and screaming at the television screen is not going to change the course of the game.
There’s a big difference here. Even if they somehow did script a Super Bowl like it was Wrestlemania, there are factors that would make fixing the game near impossible. (Sadly not totally impossible.) You can’t fix a game the way you can a work of fiction, and that wouldn’t be what fans want. Sure they’d want their team to win, but not by cheating and if the thing was rigged the NFL would not get the forgiveness the WWE gets because they are different audiences (even if they share the same people), and a movie is even more different than that. Your analogy is dumb and there’s no more polite way for me to say that. Sorry, but that’s the embodiment of the “apples and oranges” expression, possibly even more than the actual fruit the expression comes from.
But now that Twitter gives fans a direct connection to their favorite creators, everything has changed. Sometimes, vocal fan outrage can work for good, like Sonic getting a redesign to something less nightmare-inducing or saving shows like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Chuck.” Unfortunately, these fan campaigns don’t always come with good intentions. Sometimes, these campaigns are guided by a singular view of entitlement at best (like with the complaints surrounding “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” influencing the giant fan film known as “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”), and straight-up perpetuation of bigotry at worst.
I’m guessing you liked those shows and actually agreed the original movie Sonic design was hot garbage (it totally was). However, fans weren’t happy with Rise Of Skywalker either because Abrams still got things wrong, and he was trying to fix Rian Johnson’s mistakes because apparently Johnson doesn’t know what a trilogy is and threw out all of Abrams’ notes the same way Abrams tossed out all of George Lucas’s notes or the post-war stories in the novels, like Han and Leia’s twins. Snyder fans got what they wanted, DC fans didn’t so WarnerMedia still listened to the wrong group when it comes to a property they inherited and are now stewards of, parts of which are still cultural icons to this day. People still do the Wonder Woman spin, quote the Adventures Of Superman opening, and only the serials seem to be ignored when it comes to examining interpretations of Batman. The big problem with Rise Of Skywalker is that they wanted to please the classic Star Wars fans and the sequel fans and did a poor job at both. You know, like Justice League.
And we’ll just ignore the “straight-up perpetuation” nonsense, since that’s the fault of your reporter pals, not Twitter. Twitter has plenty of its own sins to answer for without dropping that lie all the time someone dares to question a bad adaptation of a beloved franchise and cultural icon. It wasn’t Star Wars fans that got Finn and Rose Tico taken off of the Chinese movie posters but they were the ones that called DisneyFilm out for it.
#ReleaseTheSnyderCut was a success in the sense that a movie was made, but the toxic fan culture that came with it absolutely tarnished any success the movie had. Allowing for the release of the film opened the floodgates, with fans getting louder and more vicious in an attempt to have their demands met. “Snyderbros” review-bombed “Godzilla vs. Kong” in retaliation of Warner Bros. decision not to make additional DC superhero movies from Zack Snyder.
Is that what happened? Rotten Tomatoes has become such a bad resource I stopped using them in the Finally Watched articles, but there have been review bombs praising and hating any show deemed toxic or corrupted by heavy-handed sociopolitical thought processes. I still need to see Godzilla Vs. Kong but every review I’ve caught (which of course also ruined the big twist because this is the hell I’m trapped in with all the sick time and no money issues I’ve dealt with since 2016 keeping me from seeing stuff when the internet has decided I should) has actually been positive. Somehow I doubt the Snyder bros had that level of influence and the “Release The Snyder Cut” brigade weren’t annoying as heck but they weren’t terrorists.
We Don’t Negotiate with Terrorists
Completely putting aside the tragic situation that caused Snyder to leave the project and therefore allowing for a complete justification for wanting to give him the space to create the film that was ultimately taken from him for reasons beyond his control, the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaign was overwhelmingly not operating from a place of empathy for the director, but instead fan entitlement. The release of Snyder’s “Justice League” was not viewed as a success for the director in their minds, but instead vindication for their extremely loud and downright cruel fanbase. The day HBO announced the film would be released, there were less excited comments about what this means for Snyder and his story, instead replaced by a flood of fans exclaiming, “We did it!” This was proof that if you complain enough and harass enough people, you can get whatever you want, and that’s dangerous.
Fans obviously have a right to complain when something they love misses the mark (See: the final season of “Game of Thrones,”) but a distinct line is crossed when the disappointment or critique becomes a rallying cry for an entire fanbase. Look at what happened with films like “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel,” which were review bombed by racist and misogynist superhero fans so badly, Rotten Tomatoes had to completely change their score system, or Netflix who removed their star-rating after people review bombed Amy Schumer’s comedy special simply because angry fanboys felt like it. Releasing the Ayer Cut would be caving into the demands of a group of people who should be reprimanded, not rewarded.
Yeah, why should fans expect something they like to actually be something they like? Look, if the entertainment industry actually listened to fan complaints like you claim Titans would have better reflected the characters, Mass Effect 3 would have been completely remade, Star Trek would actually be popular again and merchandise would actually be selling, current financial and supply chain issues aside, and we wouldn’t have a version of a fantasy series that just got a huge movie run being made into a TV/Web show that wants to be Game Of Thrones because they’re convinced both Tolkien and Martin have initials in their pen names so it’s totally the same. And it looks like you’re going to make me talk about it anyway, so let’s look at that sentence again.
Look at what happened with films like “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel,” which were review bombed by racist and misogynist superhero fans so badly, Rotten Tomatoes had to completely change their score system…
I have yet to hear a negative review of Black Panther outside of logicing out the flaws in Wakanda’s extent of isolation and the fact that it wasn’t actually the first all-black superhero movie cast because people want to forget The Meteor Man existed for some reason. (I rather enjoy the movie myself.) As far as Captain Marvel Comics Wants To Ensure Billy Batson Can’t Reclaim His Proper Superhero Identity I’ve seen women who think the heavy-handed ultra-feminist girl power message to the extent of any logic and the heroine not looking all that heroic were the problems. People review bombed the movie because they hated it in the same way other people praise bombed She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power for its social reworking of a beloved series that wasn’t made for them, because they’re only happy when everything is made for them but will hypocritically state “it wasn’t made for you” when you complain. I haven’t seen either movie so I can’t comment on the accuracy of the complaints but I can accurately comment on the complaints themselves versus the writer trying to write off any negative complaint as racist sexism.
Comic fans loved these character long before they reached the oh holy on high media status of live-action theatrical film and what they saw annoyed them, while general superhero fans saw more identity politics on display rather than trying to make good characters. I’m not saying only white characters can be good because my childhood proves otherwise. It’s Hollywood that’s saying it because anytime they make a lead character of color or non-male in the 2020s the only thing that matters are their skin color, sexual orientation, or gender, biological or personal. Have a character’s first line be “it’s great to be a trans gay person of color” and suddenly nobody is allowed to question the quality of the work no matter how poor the writing is, how boring the cinematography is (being “experimental” doesn’t make it good if it detracts from the story), the actors sounding like they’re still at the initial script reading, or how garbled your message is when put under any kind of rational thought.
Not every movie is going to be exactly what the viewer wants or what the director had in mind, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Filmmaking is a collaborative medium, and no one person is responsible for the success or failure of a film. However, constantly bending to the wills of fans or very loud directors online is only perpetuating the already vanishing line between creator and consumer. We already have algorithms telling us what to watch and telling studios how to design a poster, who to cast, and what stories are “worth” telling, and allowing projects to be held hostage by angry fans only exacerbates the situation.
Algorithms are a mistake to follow, as they can only tell you what the current trend is, not what the next one will be, and you can only find that when you’ll willing to take a risk. Look, I’m not going to pretend that fans are always right. I’ve seen gamers defend the ending to Mass Effect 3 as well as it’s detractors. Meanwhile I still don’t know how to get the darn ship to move in Mass Effect 1. The fanshippers are not called out here but the “Reylo” group seems to be pushing a toxic relationship and one rather mentally confused subsect actually tried to get Adam Driver to leave his wife and children and run off with Daisy Ridley because they don’t know how “acting” works. (In this case the fans, as I’ve seen Driver in other performances and I’m sure Ridley is a fine actress in a better movie.) At some point the creators do have to make the work they want, but at the same time when you inherit a franchise you inherit its history and its fans, the two reasons the franchise was popular enough to revisit in the first place. If you chase them off you show you don’t care about the series or its place in either pop or regular culture. There’s a line that once crossed might as well be its own project rather than using an old name for marketing because studio, publisher, or sadly even the creator or creative team doesn’t have enough faith in their own idea. That’s where “multiversal continuity” comes in. Do it right and you win over old fans while finding new ones. Do it wrong, and you get Jem.
It’s hard, but it’s time for fans to move on. Warner Bros. isn’t going to make the Ayer cut, and harping on it is only going to dissuade others from wanting to work with him in the future because they’re not going to want to deal with the guaranteed baggage of a toxic fandom screaming at them every second of every day.
I don’t know where this huge call is for the director’s cut (and that’s what they used to call it before the “Snyder Cut” got its name and now every director wants their name in front of it) is because I don’t see it. I may not like it because Snyder doesn’t like the proper interpretation of the DC universe as evidenced by what he gave us, but the whole “Restore The Snyder Cut” campaign, and even the current “Restore The Snyderverse” campaign, came organically from fans of Zack Snyder. It’s not from classic DC, Superman, or Batman fans, which is why I hope it never ever ever EVER happens because it’s just further desecration of the DC universe and he should just make his own superhero universe and leave these characters alone. However, “Restore The Ayer Cut” was a push by Ayer himself and thus would be playing to a director who can’t handle the fact that one of his movies was so loathed in an attempted shared universe that at least had some supporters. It wouldn’t be playing to the fans because I don’t think there’s a strong enough push for a movie we’d rather be forgotten by the actual fans. So I’m not defending either campaign directly but the idea that fans do have a right to see their beloved series and characters they have a strong connection to be properly represented, not mocked or turned into something so original it might as well be an original series. Heck, an original series might actually find fans among the older property might find this take a bit interesting so long as it isn’t ruining the thing they already love.
Fans are not toxic for wanting a proper adaptation and to write them of as this “ist” or that “ist” is ignorant insulting to protect a property you don’t even care about because it isn’t something you like and insist everything popular should. That’s the group I refer to as the “everything for meeeeeeeeeeeeee” crowd. The stuff made for “me” should be for me, and the stuff made for “you” should be for you. There’s even the potential for crossing tastes in there. The question I ask is if you’re going to adapt something popular, shouldn’t the stuff that made it popular be in there? And wouldn’t the people its popular with want a proper adaptation or continuation, and isn’t a good thing for a studio or publisher who wants to make money? It’s not as simple as that because then you wonder which fans do you listen to, or how much wiggle room can a writer or director have to follow their vision. However, if you don’t care about the original work (I don’t mean you have to be a fan because fanboy creators have their own errors to deal with, but at least respect the property you’re asked to adapt or continue and do it justice) then make your own stuff and thus create a new fanbase. The old fans won’t matter because there won’t be any. If you take on something with fans, then entitled or not at least listen to them and adjust where you can or just make something new. A non-DC superhero Snyderverse will gain more love than Snyder’s poor adaptation of the DC universe and characters that have existed before he did.
As for Ayer, you screwed up, deal with it, and don’t try to ride Snyder’s coattails seeking redemption. Learn from your mistakes and do it better next time you take on something you didn’t create. And for the fans, you can show your anger at a bad adaptation of something that matters to you without being a-holes. I know that’s hard for everybody on Twitter these days but try it. The studios should listen and the press shouldn’t try to shame someone into silence to protect Hollywood. If they can’t handle backlash they’re in the wrong business.