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How James Gunn really feels about David Ayer's Suicide Squad

Like a number of Zack Snyder's entries into the DC Extended Universe, writer-director David Ayer's 2016's Suicide Squad was a critical failure but a financial success. Suicide Squad rests at a dismal 26 percent critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, yet it brought in nearly $750 million worldwide — a tidy sum especially when you consider that the film's follow-up, the critical darling Birds of Preyonly made $200 million

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ayer produced the first cut of Suicide Squad, and Warner Bros. executives were concerned that it "didn't deliver on the fun, edgy tone promised in the strong teaser trailer." The studio teamed up with Trailer Park (the company responsible for the film's trailer) to create a second cut. Both cuts were test-screened, neither did well with audiences, and so Suicide Squad underwent reshoots, followed by another cut that was essentially a hybrid of Ayer's vision and Trailer Park's vision.

There are many opinions about what ultimately works and what doesn't about Suicide Squad, but that the overall quality of the film suffered from an overwrought editing process is a generally accepted truth. As a result, there are a lot of people who have sympathy for Ayer, whose artistic vision was never seen on screen. One person who seems to feel this way is James Gunn, the writer and director of the upcoming film The Suicide Squad.

James Gunn gives kudos to David Ayer and the cast of Suicide Squad

In an interview with Empire, Gunn talks about The Suicide Squad, his upcoming standalone follow-up to Ayer's film, and took the time to defend both Ayer and his original story. Specifically, the filmmaker praised Ayer for the actors he chose to star in 2016's Suicide Squad and how he developed their characters' narratives.

"Listen, David Ayer's gotten trouble for the movie," said Gunn. "I know it didn't come out how David wanted it to come out. But he did one really, really great thing, and that is he picked fantastic actors to work with, and he dealt with these actors in building their characters in a really deep and fearless way. It's something David definitely deserves to be lauded for, and it's definitely added to this movie."

Not everyone from the original Suicide Squad will reprise their roles in Gunn's new movie, and in a number of cases, it's because their characters aren't even alive anymore. The two most notable exceptions are Will Smith's Deadshot and Jared Leto's Joker. Smith opted not to reprise his role due to scheduling conflicts. And while Leto's Joker will return for the Snyder Cut of Justice League, Gunn has said that there isn't really room for the Joker in The Suicide Squad because he wasn't really a part of the Squad in the comics (via CinemaBlend).

Otherwise, though, if you look at the lineup for The Suicide Squad, most everyone else is back: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, and Jai Courtney as Courtney Boomerang will all reprise their roles. Considering all the criticism 2016's Suicide Squad received in the last few years, that says a lot about Gunn's respect for Ayer and his work on the original film.

The Suicide Squad is currently set for release on August 6, 2021.