David Ayer says Suicide Squad was a breaking point for him and Hollywood

Suicide Squad
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Director David Ayer says that Suicide Squad, which was released to theaters in 2016 with a final cut that he did not approve of, was his biggest Hollywood heartbreak.

"Hollywood – I tell people – is like watching someone you love get fucked by someone you hate," Ayer said on Jon Berthnal's Real Ones podcast (via Variety). "The big one is Suicide Squad. That shit broke me. That handed me my ass."

Ayer has previously stated that the theatrical version of Suicide Squad was "ripped to pieces" and that there were supposed to be many more "terrifying" scenes of Jared Leto's Joker – who was only in the film for a total of 7 minutes and 20 seconds.

Despite being critically panned, the film grossed $746 million globally against a budget of $175 million. After Ayer neglected to return for a sequel, James Gunn took over. Gunn's sequel (which feels much more like a soft reboot) The Suicide Squad was released in 2021, and fared far better with critics.

"Come right off Fury, right? I had the town in my hand – could’ve done anything, and I did do anything," Ayer continued. "And [I] go on this journey with [Suicide Squad]. And the same thing – authentic, truthful, let’s do all the rehearsal, let’s really get in each other’s souls. Let’s create this amazing, collaborative thing, right? And then Deadpool opened, right? And they never tested Batman v. Superman, so they were expecting a different result, and then they got hammered by all the critics. Then it’s like, Okay, we’re going to turn David Ayer’s dark, soulful movie into a fucking comedy now.'"

Ayer recently took to social media to advocate for a director's cut of The Suicide Squad, not unlike the Snyder Cut of Justice League – which was pushed by DC fans who were adamant that Snyder's darker, grittier version of the film was much better than the one that hit theaters (and they were absolutely right). Ayer specified that Gunn, the newly appointed co-chief of DC Studios, had told him a director's cut would "have its time" to be seen.

He wrote: "All I know is my unseen film plays much better than the studio release. The interest in my cut being shown seems real and organic. And Gunn told me it would have its time to be shared. He absolutely deserves to launch his DC universe without more drama about old projects. In a way I'm chained to this thing. I'm riding a tiger here and navigating this situation the best I can. Life is a very strange journey."

Superman: Legacy is the first film on Gunn's new DC roster, hitting theaters in 2025. Hopefully, the Ayer cut of Suicide Squad will soon follow. For more, check out our guide to all the upcoming DC movies and TV shows for everything else the studio has in store. 

Lauren Milici
Senior Writer, Tv & Film

Lauren Milici is a Senior Entertainment Writer for GamesRadar+ currently based in the Midwest. She previously reported on breaking news for The Independent's Indy100 and created TV and film listicles for Ranker. Her work has been published in Fandom, Nerdist, Paste Magazine, Vulture, PopSugar, Fangoria, and more.