The idea of creative freedom has hung over the head of Warner Bros. ever since Zack Snyder’s roller coaster of an experience when dealing with the studio pushing back on his grand, operatic, but not exactly crowd-pleasing Justice League. James Gunn’s experience while working on The Suicide Squad sounds like it couldn’t have been more different, as the recently-released film bears all the filmmaker’s personality and trademarks with nary a hint of studio interference. But while making the usual interview rounds, Gunn drops some new information on a slightly darker ending he originally had in mind.
Spoilers for The Suicide Squad below.
Writer and director James Gunn recently talked to The Hollywood Reporter, where he got into the nitty-gritty details of all sorts of aspects of The Suicide Squad. Gunn took the opportunity to hint at just how different the ending of the film could’ve been, teasing a slightly darker conclusion than what ended up in the final product:
“I mean, that was my original pitch to Walt [Hamada] and Toby [Emmerich] over at Warner Bros. I brought in pictures of all those guys because I knew it would be hard to keep track of. So I brought in all these photos from the comics of all the different characters that are on team one, team two, and Starro. And the pitch was almost exactly what the movie was. There’s actually a little bit of a darker ending to the pitch that changed, but besides that, everything was exactly the same. It was just as edgy as it is in the movie itself.”
Reading between the lines, this doesn’t sound like a case where a studio balked at a filmmaker’s ideas and forced him to change the script for more mass appeal. It seems to be more along the lines of the natural adjustment and editing that happens with any film production. What’s present on-page doesn’t always translate well to live-action when a filmmaker has all the actors, production design, and film crew on set and ready for action, so a certain amount of flexibility and improvisation is always needed.
How Much Darker Could Things Have Been?
As for what exactly he’s referring to, I can’t help but wonder whether even more members of the Squad ended up biting the dust in Gunn’s original pitch. The Suicide Squad has a hard-edged little mean streak to it (which I mean as a compliment!), which I could definitely see as having gone even further in previous versions of the script.
For one mad second, in fact, I actually thought John Cena’s Peacemaker was going to shoot poor Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) in the head. As my personal favorite highlight of the movie, needless to say, it’s a good thing he didn’t. As much as I appreciate Gunn really gunning (boooooo!) for that R rating, I’m also glad he had the self-restraint to dial things back at certain crucial moments and allow some well-earned sincerity and earnestness to permeate the darkness.
The Suicide Squad is currently playing in theaters and also on HBO Max.
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