The filmmaker, whose previous credits include Training Day (2001) and End of Watch (2012), was hired to write and direct the first Suicide Squad film, which was released in 2016.
While Ayer’s film starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto was a box office hit, it was torn apart by the critics.
In the years since the film’s release, the director has been open about his desire to release an extended cut of the film following what he says was interference from the studio.
Ayer has reflected on this alleged interference in a new interview on Real Ones with Jon Bernthal, during which he said that the experience of making Suicide Squad “broke” him.
“Hollywood, I tell people, is like watching someone you love get f***ed by someone you hate,” he said, adding: “The big one is Suicide Squad. That s*** broke me. That handed me my a**.”
Ayer explained how, before being hired to write and direct Suicide Squad, he “had the town in [his] hand” after directing Fury, the Second World War thriller starring Brad Pitt.
“I could’ve done anything, and I did do anything,” he 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?”
According to Ayer, things were going well until the release of two comic book films: 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool in February 2016, and Warner Bros’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice the following month. While both were box office hits, Deadpool was critically acclaimed while Batman v Superman was widely branded a bad film.
The consequence, Ayer said, was that Warner Bros asked him to overhaul the tone of his movie.
He stated: “And then Deadpool opened – 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, ‘OK, we’re going to turn David Ayer’s dark, soulful movie into a f***ing comedy now.’”
Ayer says that the original test footage went down extremelky well, and that “they never tested my cut”.
“The thing is, I have it, I f***ing have it, and... everyone I've shown the cut has the same reaction: rage. Like, 'This is the movie we wanted, why didn't we get this?'"
Ayer recently revealed that James Gunn, who is now running DC alongside Peter Safran, has assured him he is “trying to figure out” if he can ever release his Suicide Squad director’s cut.
Gunn wrote and directed a follow-up, titled The Suicide Squad, in 2021, which fared much better with the critics.