This Movie Was Hell: 4 Ways ‘Suicide Squad’ Almost Died Behind-The-Scenes
It’s hard to imagine watching 2016’s Suicide Squad and thinking that it was the product of a stable creative environment – no, from what we can tell, the making of the notorious movie about a crew of colorful goons travelling the streets of
Toronto Midway City in order to stop an ancient South American witch, was not an easy process. And amazingly, not all of its problems can be laid at the (likely bare) feet of Jared Leto, such as how …
The Director Made The Actors Do Therapy (And Weaponized Their Secrets)
We’ve already talked at length about Jared Leto’s Joker-related hijinks, which included getting into character by sending his co-stars disgusting gifts – because we all remember that classic comic where the Clown Prince of Crime defeated Batman by FedExing him a soiled condom. Another detail that seemed performatively edgy at the time, and came out well before the movie’s release, was how “tormented” cast members had an on-set therapist – because according to the actor who played Slipknot, director David Ayer is ”about realism … so if your character is tormented, he wants you to torment yourself.” Which is an intense thing to hear about a movie co-starring a clown woman who was invented for a literal TV cartoon.
There were also reports of another kind of therapy happening on-set; “intensive” rehearsal sessions in which Ayer would get the cast to divulge deep emotional secrets, which is reportedly part of his artistic process as a director. According to Will Smith, they talked about “childhoods and experiences with families and first girlfriends and boyfriends.” Margot Robbie claimed that it was “a pretty vulnerable place to go,” with Ayer wanting to know about her “ personal history … things like that that you don’t really want to tell a stranger,” adding: “I really didn’t like that.”
Ultimately, the point was for the cast to connect their “life experiences” to that of their characters – again, we have to point out that this is a movie featuring a cantankerous crocodile man. According to Will Smith, Ayer also learned those “personal secrets” so he could “throw them back in your face on set.” Yeah, he used their real life confessions against them in order to elicit emotional reactions for this movie, which – and we can’t stress this enough – includes a possessed, belly-dancing archaeologist. And speaking of Enchantress …
The Actresses Had To Put Up With Annoying (And Painful) Costumes
In the role of the villainous Enchantress, Cara Delevingne was required to do a surprising amount of awkward gyrating –
Which was a problem because, according to the actress, she pulled her back doing her “tribal” dance routine that was apparently “toned down” in the final cut. Worse still, because her costume was made out of “hard bits of metal and stone” and she was “rolling around a lot” Delevingne ended up getting cuts on her body, all the way down to her butt.
Things were no more fun for Margot Robbie, whose costume consisted of a tight t-shirt and a pair of bejewelled hot pants that left little to the imagination. The outfit was so revealing that there was a discrepancy between the length of her shorts in the trailer and in the finished film, leading some outlets to report that Warner Bros. had used CGI to skimpify the outfit –
Which caused a minor controversy, until it was revealed that the shorter version was the real one, and the studio had actually used digital technology to lengthen the shorts in their advertisements, thus saving America from the trauma of seeing a buttcheek on TV. In interviews, Robbie admitted that she didn’t like wearing the costume and felt “self-conscious about it” on-set. She also stated that, were there to be a follow-up movie: “I’m not wearing hot pants next time.” And when Birds of Prey rolled around in 2020, sure enough, Harley Quinn had a costume that was, according to Robbie, “definitely less male gaze–y.” And as that film’s costume designer noted: “That’s what happens when you have a female producer, director, writer.”
The Studio Handed The Movie To A Random Trailer Company
Famously, the making of Suicide Squad had more drama than a junior high production of a David Mamet play; as chronicled by The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. was nervous about Ayer’s more “somber” version of the story. And the studio became even “more anxious” when they were “blindsided and deeply rattled” by the “tepid response” to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Reportedly, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara was “really pissed about damage to the brand.” But during this time of uncertainty, the fun, Queen-accompanied teaser trailer for Suicide Squad was well received by the public.
But this caused executives to become worried that the movie “didn’t deliver” on the “fun” tone of the trailer – so they began working on a new cut of the film with Trailer Park, the company who had edited the preview. Which is a little like having your novel rewritten by some rando who designed the dust jacket. Ultimately the studio decided to pursue the “lighter” version of the movie (completed with “jazzed-up graphics”) which also “required millions of dollars’ worth of additional photography.” You can literally see the studio’s tonal crises made manifest in Sucide Squad’s increasingly gaudy logo.
This isn’t to say that Ayer’s cut would have necessarily been great, or even good – after all, his next project was Bright, a buddy cop movie involving literal orcs. But presumably Ayer’s version wouldn’t have felt like watching a sentient iTunes playlist do lines of coke off the floor of a Hot Topic.
There Were Just So Many Terrible “Fan” Reactions
While most big movie releases these days predictably spark a number of garbage reactions from trash people, Suicide Squad took cringey fandom to a whole other level. For starters, when critics understandably responded to the film with all the warmth of Mr. Freeze’s Lean Cuisine dinner, angry fans started an online petition calling for Rotten Tomatoes to be shut down in “protest” of the “harsh reception.” And it was signed by more than 13,000 people – which is kind of like trying to burn down the Weather Channel because you don’t like rain.
Even detractors lashed out in oddly laughable ways; one fan made headlines for posting a detailed plan on Reddit to sue Warner Bros. for false advertising, due to the lack of scenes featuring Jared Leto’s Joker (a lot of which apparently ended up on the cutting room floor). Despite the media attention it received, shockingly this random, anonymous internet dude seemingly didn’t follow through with their ambitious legal scheme.
More seriously, after the movie came out, Margot Robbie “faced stalkers and death threats” and was forced to hire a “security team to protect her,” claiming that it was pretty much the “worst-case scenario of how big and scary it can get.” Which is awful – and, again, all the result of making a movie with a character whose surname is “Boomerang.”
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Thumbnail: Warner Bros.