Suicide Squad editor reveals the biggest differences between the director’s cut and the theatrical release

Jared Leto Joker
(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

2016’s Suicide Squad theatrical release was, according to director David Ayer, a departure from the original vision for the DC movie – and was "ripped to pieces" by Warner Bros. Now, one of the editors who worked on the project has spelled out exactly how different the so-called ‘Ayer Cut’ was from what we ended up seeing in cinemas.

In an interview with CinemaBlend, David Hickman outlined how Warner Bros. "wanted to take things in a different direction" with Suicide Squad.

First and foremost, that involved making the movie a lot lighter. "[Ayer’s] was a much darker film," Hickman said. "It was almost like a Black Hawk Down type thing. It was just very militarized, very serious. I mean, of course there were supposed to be comedic moments with Will Smith, but it was a darker film."

It was structure, as well as style, that was affected. Hickman revealed Warner Bros. wanted the "origin of the characters to happen much closer to the beginning," instead of being scattered throughout the first 45 minutes of the movie. "We kind of shoved everything into the viewer's face right up front so that we could get the story going," he explained.

Hickman even echoed Ayer’s previous remarks that more footage from Jared Leto’s Joker – who made a belated return in Zack Snyder’s Justice League in the new Knightmare sequence – was left on the cutting room floor.

In 2020, Ayer said Leto’s scenes involved "incredible acting" as a "terrifying" Joker. Hickman said that while he thought Leto "did a really good job" as the Clown Prince of Crime, "we just couldn't find a purpose for it because sometimes he would just go off on such crazy, insane tangents and it would be really hard to weave it into the film."

However, it doesn’t look like David Ayer’s director’s cut will ever see the light of day. Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff said in an interview with Variety that the studio "won’t be developing David Ayer’s cut" – and the director responded on Twitter with a sad face emoji and one word: "Why?"

It’s a question that might echo for some time to come – but is unlikely to ever get a Snyder Cut-style answer. A new Suicide Squad movie, directed by James Gunn, is due out in August.

For more from the world of DC, check out all the new superhero movies on the way.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.