One of the good things about the Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice Ultimate Edition was that the 30 minutes of footage editing back into the film to solve some of the problems that were to be found in director Zack Snyder’s theatrical release. It didn’t make it a great movie, but it did make it a marginally more watchable, even with its new runtime of three hours. When it was announced that this past summer’s Suicide Squad was going to get a similar extended cut, it was hoped that the new footage to be inserted here would help to alleviate some of the issues that critics and fans had with the film. Notably, it was hoped that more of the reportedly voluminous amount of footage featuring Jared Leto’s Joker that had initially hit the cutting room floor would make it back into the film. Unfortunately, that was not quite the case.
Eleven minutes of footage may not seem like a large amount of time in a film that runs just under two hours. It’s under ten percent of the whole thing, but that can still make or break the entire movie. Or they can not matter at all. And the eleven minutes added here are at times inconsequential or at worst presenting contradictory and conflicting motives for certain characters. But the one thing that these scenes do manage to do for us is give us some more insight into the turbulent process Suicide Squad‘s post-production period appears to have been, as we will see below.
Surprisingly, the first character to be featured in the new footage is Killer Cros (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). First off, his introductory scene, in which Belle Reeve corrections officer Griggs (Ike Barinholtz) mentions to a guard new to the detail that delivers his meals, that Killer Croc once bit off a guard’s hand. The guard then shows off his “vulcanized rubber” artificial hand. The next bit of extended Killer Cros business comes as the Squad is one the helicopter, inbound to Midway City. Croc gets a bit of air sickness and pukes onto the deck of the chopper.
It is easy to see why the first scene was dropped as it is just one of many moments that Suicide Squad takes early on to tell us how dangerous Killer Croc is. Losing one of those moments doesn’t really dilute that message. The barfing scene just leaves one wondering why it was filmed to begin with. It certainly doesn’t fulfill any story function. At best – And I admit that I could be stretching here – it serves a characterization function, reinforcing the idea that Killer Croc is a denizen of the subterranean world and is not comfortable several hundred feet above it. But what is really interesting is that these two scenes are the only new additions in nearly the first hour of the film.
The next extended bit of material comes as the Squad is making its way through the deserted streets f Midway City with Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) and his black ops team. Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley (Margot Robbie) have a brief discussion about the possibility of killing Flagg and destroying the remote for the explosive charges that have been implanted into their necks to insure their cooperation. Once in agreement on a course of action, Deadshot tells Harley to “Spread the word.” However, before she can the group is attacked by the Enchantress’s mutated drone army. In the now extended version of this scene we see Harley actually approaching some of her teammates with the plan. Boomerang (Jai Courtney) is certainly up for joining in the escape, but Diablo (Jay Hernandez) is not. It is at this point that the attack from the Enchantress’s drones begins.
Rather than serving to add some depth to the characters, illustrate the team’s various feelings for each other or even illuminate a somewhat murky plotpoint, the extended material here only serves to exacerbate one of the scenes contradicting motives. As Flagg is overwhelmed by the drones, Deadshot yells at the other Squad members to rescue him. “If he dies, we die!” he reminds them, which is strange as just a few minutes earlier, Deadshot was planning on killing Flagg himself.
Harley And The Joker: “I’m Not Someone Who Is Loved”
What new Joker footage we do get finally comes in a new flashback sequence that further fills in the background on his and Harley’s relationship. Chronologically, this falls the flashback we get in Amanda Waller’s initial briefing description of how the Joker slowly seduced and brainwashed his psychiatrist Harley Quinzel and the latter one in which she proves her love to the Joker by diving into a vat of chemicals, emerging as Harley Quinn. In this new sequence, Harley is confronts the Joker in the middle of the road after chasing his purple Porsche on a motorbike. She demands that the Joker admit that he loves her. He answers “I’m not someone who is loved. I’m an idea. I’m a state of mind.” It is not until Harley shoots an irate truck driver who stumbles onto the scene that the Joker embraces her.
Interestingly, some set reports from when this scene was shot in May 2015 stated that the Joker slaps Harley at one point, but that moment does not appear in the final film. Is it possible that somewhere there was a mandate that the film was to very clearly avoid portraying the Harley/Joker relationship as one that is abusive?
Ayers has stated that the theatrical cut is his version of Suicide Squad and so it unclear as to the amount of participation he has had in this extended cut. But let’s take a moment to reexamine things, if the slap had been included. It would suddenly put a new interpretation on the scene where the Joker forces Harley to undergo electroshock therapy. Currently, when Harley states that “[she] can take it,” it feels as if she is willingly giving herself to a process she believes will bring her closer to the Joker. She is giving permission to both the Joker and herself to blast electricity across her frontal lobes. But, if the relationship is more abusive, which would be implied by the deleted slap as well as the glimpses of the way that the Joker manipulates Harley into helping his escape, the electroshock becomes torture and mental rape as the Joker is changing her psychology by force. And that makes Harley’s “I can take it,” not permissive but an act of defiance, one last spit in the eye before she succumbs.
It should be noted that it has been reported that the sequence on board the helicopter when the Joker is rescuing Harley also differs from what was shot. Some behind-the-scenes photos show that a version of the scene included the pair arguing and the Joker pushing her out the open hatchway in anger, rather than out of the impulse to save her from the vehicle’s crash as we saw in the film. These scenes definitely suggest that at one point in production Ayers had in mind exploring a much more complex, darker and outright abusive relationship between the two. Was the ultimate goal to show a character arc for Harley where she frees herself of the Joker and becoming her own woman again? It will probably take an actual copy of Suicide Squad‘s shooting script to make its way online or for Ayers or one of the cast to confirm it. But for now, the evidence remains strong.
Harley Quinn, Shrink
Outside of being a device to give her an excuse to come into initial contact with the Joker, Harley’s background as a psychiatrist is one that is rarely plumbed in the various media that the character has shown up in. So it that makes the last added scene all the more interesting. In it we see the group getting close to their rendezvous to rescue the mysterious HVT-1. As they are walking along, Harley begins to ask the Squad members some rather personal questions. She asks Killer Croc why he eats people and if he would eat her. When asked why she is questioning Killer Croc by Diablo, she explains that she needs a mind to pry apart. As she moves on to Katana (Karen Fukuhara), Deadshot finally tells her to stop “acting like a drunken stripper” and to “play nice with the other children.”
It seems obvious that the scene is there to help shed light on the various Squad members. However, it doesn’t really work, most likely due to it coming more than half way through the movie. And with the bar scene that comes a little bit later – in which Harley playing the role of bartender/psychiatrist feels more natural – it comes off as extraneous.
Ultimately, while it is interesting to see these scenes in and of themselves, their reinsertion back into Suicide Squad doesn’t really serve any real purpose. They were much better suited to be just deleted scenes on the home video release rather than edited back into the movie proper. And if this is the best that Warners have to offer, I don’t think we will be getting a better version of this movie anytime soon. Or ever.