Despite its $745 million worldwide box office total, Suicide Squad wasn’t exactly a slam dunk for Warner Bros. this summer. While the David Ayer film about a team of super-villains recruited into a top-secret government task force turned a tidy profit, it didn’t do much to win over critics or alleviate concerns about the creative direction of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). After all, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was afflicted with similar issues back in March, but made less money and earned an overall more positive critical reception than its follow-up. Still, for hardcore fans of superhero cinema, Suicide Squad is probably best described as a mixed bag.
The big-screen debuts of such fan-favorite characters as Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Deadshot (Will Smith) brought some exciting fresh blood to the DCEU, and Oscar winner Jared Leto — who proved to be perhaps the most divisive figure in the film — delivered an intriguing, albeit incomplete, vision of the Joker.
Yet, after the ultimate edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice marked a significant improvement in director Zack Snyder’s vision of the superhero smackdown, many fans wondered if Ayer could pull off the same feat with his extended cut of Suicide Squad. While the latter isn’t as dramatic of an overhaul as its predecessor, it is an improvement nonetheless. Let’s go into some of the reasons why.
1. More Joker and (especially) Harley Quinn
By far the biggest selling point of Suicide Squad early on was the addition of Harley Quinn and a revamped take on the Joker. Sadly, the theatrical version of the film skimped on the latter, despite Leto’s reassurances that he shot “enough footage … for a Joker movie.” The extended version does restore a bit of the backstory for the demented pair, clarifying the nature of their relationship a bit more. However, the extra footage still leans far more heavily on Harley than her Mr. J. So fans hoping for more of the Clown Prince of Crime are out of luck.
2. Greater insight into the supporting players
Much like Guardians of the Galaxy, Suicide Squad is a true ensemble. Unfortunately, many of the supporting players (i.e., not Harley or Deadshot) wound up under-served in the film. The extended cut punches this up just a bit, with a restored bit of characterization throughout. Though none of the additions dramatically change the film, they do give characters like Katana (Karen Fukuhara), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) more to do.
3. It clarifies and deepens the group dynamic
Just as each individual character gets a better chance to shine in the extended cut, so too does the group dynamic benefit from the changes. The scene in which the team holes up in a bar to reflect on their situation is much longer than in the theatrical version, giving the characters the opportunity to engage each other in a way they so rarely get the chance to do while in the middle of a mission. After all, the fact that this is an ensemble of villains is exactly what makes Suicide Squad worthwhile. So why not embrace that?
4. A better balance of character and action
Notice a running theme here? Ayer previously said that the theatrical version was his definitive director’s cut, and there’s little argument that it doesn’t move much faster than the extended version. However, the latter isn’t as concerned with wowing audiences with non-stop action and humor. Rather, it places a greater emphasis on getting to know its characters, since it is this element of the story that keeps audiences engaged and rooting for this band of anti-heroes throughout the film anyway.
5. It pumps up the Rick Flag/Deadshot alliance
One of the most enjoyable character relationships in the film is the reluctant partnership between Deadshot and Rick Flag. Well, good news for fans of those two: They share even more screen time in the extended cut. From their very first scene together, they embody the fact that this team is made up almost exclusively of killers and thieves. Flag is one of the few characters to dramatically counter that lifestyle, and his exchanges with Deadshot throughout the film are certainly among the highlights.
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