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Of the many possible permutations of Suicide Squad, will we only get one?
Empire has an illuminating feature with writer-director David Ayer, where among other things (such as the backstory of The Joker’s “Damaged” tattoo), he suggests that the cut of Suicide Squad currently playing in theaters is the only cut that will see the light of day.
“You could easily make this R-rated by having two F-bombs or someone smoke a cigarette. But that’s not what I think people mean when they ask for an R-rated version, so it was always meant to be a PG-13,” Ayer said of the possibility of there being an R-rated cut some day. “It’s a decision you make before you turn the cameras on.”
Sources previously told The Hollywood Reporter that the film’s challenging production and worries from studio Warner Bros. resulted in multiple competing cuts of the pic. Ayer has maintained the cut of Suicide Squad fans are seeing in theaters is his cut, meaning in addition to no R-rated version, there is no director’s cut floating around waiting to be revealed.
In the Empire interview, Ayer confirmed there were multiple cuts — including one which told a linear story from beginning to end, without the use of flashbacks. It began with June Moone (Cara Delevingne) discovering the Enchantress totem in a cave and continues on with the various members of the Suicide Squad getting arrested before moving on to Belle Reve.
“Honestly, there may be six or seven different versions of the film,” he told Empire. “In that version, [test] audiences were left with a lot of questions and a little disoriented as to who to watch and why. So we came up with what we call the ‘dossier’ version, which has Amanda [Viola Davis] presenting the backstories and origins of the various members.”
The “six or seven versions of the film” comment is particularly intriguing, with Jared Leto (Joker) previously saying that plenty of scenes with the clown prince of crime were left on the cutting-room floor and that he had lobbied for the supervillain team-up movie to go for an R-rating. Some in the fanboy community who were critical of Suicide Squad said they felt like there was a good movie in there, jokingly (but also, not jokingly) wondering aloud if they could edit a better version together on their computer.
Ahead of Suicide Squad‘s release, the surprise success of the R-rated Deadpool sparked a debate about whether other tentpoles — including Suicide Squad — would follow suit. So far, the third Wolverine film is the only upcoming mainstream superhero film targeting the elusive R-rating.
But still, there’s precedent for a film with a so-so reception earning an improved reputation with an R-rated cut on home release. Daredevil (2003) got an R-rated director’s cut, which is considered superior to the theatrical release, and Warner Bros. also found success with the much-touted Ultimate Edition of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which includes a longer running time, more violence and an R-rating.
When it comes to Suicide Squad, an R-rated version seems to be out, but already online fans are speculating about what was left out. A lengthy Reddit post — apparently culled together from information from test screenings — as well as details emerging from cast interviews and even the threat of a lawsuit against Warner Bros. for allegedly failing to deliver every scene teased in the trailer all point to more than enough interest in what these alternate cuts could be.
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