Bringing Suicide Squad To The Big Screen

It Feels Good To Be Bad In Suicide Squad, An All-Out Psychedelic Spectacle.

Is it ever a good thing to be the bad guy?  In Suicide Squad, the most improbable crew of crazy criminals ever thrown together will find out when they are united on a mission to save the world that turns into the wildest, weirdest, wickedest ride of their already insanity-filled lives.

David Ayer comes “Suicide Squad

Writer-director David Ayer with Margot Robbie during the filming of Suicide Squad.

“The Suicide Squad is essentially a team—though a wholly reluctant one—of DC’s Super-Villains,” explains writer/director David Ayer.  “Because who better to defeat one Super-Villain than another or, in this case, a whole gang of Super-Villains?  It was pretty exciting for me because it let me explore a different version of the superhero movie; they’re the absolute flipside of heroes.”

Though they may not consider their exploits to be heroic yet (or ever), the Squad’s adventure will encompass all the heightened thrills, shrewd antics and full-blown combat that go along with the actions of their more traditional counterparts.  They’ll just have to try to behave, to be on the better side of bad…for now.


Will Smith leads the ensemble as master marksman Deadshot.  “I have always loved the superhero genre, and David wanted to make a truly fun film that put a powerful story into the package, which looked at the difference between being bad and being evil.  I thought it was a great opportunity to play a character who, seeing as he’s a father, is very much at odds with what he does for a living but at the same time really, really good at it,” he smiles.

Producer Charles Roven, a veteran of the genre, offers, “I felt it was really interesting to make a film with the DC bad guys, to see which of them are truly evil and which might have some redeeming factors.  The Suicide Squad is comprised of all these deadly incarcerated villains.  What would they do, given the chance to reduce their sentences or even gain their freedom, even if it’s likely they won’t survive the mission?  And they take that shot—not that they’re given much choice.”

“If you look at the films David Ayer has made to date,” notes producer Richard Suckle, “his characters always live by the beat of their own drum.  The Squad follows a similar construct, with characters who don’t want to be told what to do or how to do it, who buck the system.  They want to play by their own rules, but they’re forced to play together.  That creates a tremendous amount of friction and conflict that’s really exciting to watch.”

Though seemingly given a “choice,” the prisoners who will become the Suicide Squad will have to learn to work as a team—literally.  This is no voluntary gig.  Plucked from the notorious Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary, which is designed to hold the “worst of the worst,” Deadshot and fellow inmates Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and Diablo, among others, aren’t exactly given an appealing alternative to playing along.  U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller, a ruthless, manipulative operative who prides herself on her ability to get people to act against their own self-interest, sees to that.

Viola Davis, who stars in the role, recalls her initial discussion with Ayer.  “Our first encounter was at his house,” she says.  “I went for a meeting, and we just clicked.  That happens maybe a few times in your career, where someone just gets you.  They just see you and allow you to be you.  That was David.”

Ayer’s name and reputation were enough to intrigue Margot Robbie. “‘Suicide Squad’—I didn’t know what that was, I hadn’t read comics growing up and I was ignorant to that whole universe.  But David was the writer and director and I knew I’d kill to work with him.  ‘Training Day’ is epic.  I saw ‘End of Watch’ four times.  ‘Fury’ was amazing.  We had maybe a 20-minute Skype call where he explained a very loose concept to me, and I was in.”

Though as Colonel Rick Flag he wasn’t to play a “villain”—quite the opposite, in fact—Joel Kinnaman was equally attracted to the concept and Ayer’s vision for it.  Like Robbie, the actor was previously unfamiliar with the characters and their world, but, he states, “The notion that you have these extraordinary events and these criminal metahumans with special abilities in this movie, and we’re to behave like it’s the real world and this is actually happening in a grounded universe…that was intriguing to me.”

In addition to the varied characters who make up the Squad, Ayer wanted to include one of comics’ darkest deviants in the film: the Joker.  To take on the mantle of perhaps the most iconic criminal in DC’s canon—both on the pages of the comics and on the big screen—the filmmakers turned to Jared Leto to depict an entirely new version of the psychopathic clown who’s always the only one in on the joke.

David Ayer

David Ayer is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter whose work has been successful both with critics and at the box office. His most recent effort, 2014’s “Fury,” starred Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal, and told the story of a small crew of soldiers on a deadly mission behind enemy lines nearing the end of World War II. Ayer’s other films as writer, director and producer include “Sabotage,” about an elite DEA taskforce; the indie “Harsh Times,” set in South Central Los Angeles and starring Christian Bale; and “End of Watch,” which he shot documentary-style and which stars Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal as LAPD officers. Ayer also directed the film “Street Kings,” and wrote the screenplays for several acclaimed features, including “U-571,” “The Fast and the Furious,” “Dark Blue,” “S.W.A.T.,” and Antoine Fuqua’s “Training Day,” for which Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Born in Champaign, Illinois, Ayer grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Bethesda, Maryland, before moving to Los Angeles, California, where his experiences in South Central became the inspiration for many of his films. Ayer then enlisted in the United States Navy as a submariner before turning his attention toward filmmaking.

“When I was a kid, a friend of my mother’s gave my brother and me a box filled with comics, and it was like an entire world had been unleashed; Pandora’s Box had been opened,” he recollects.  “When you dive into these worlds, your imagination is just lit on fire.  I think you need a lot of passion and decisiveness when you’re reinterpreting these stories, and from my first conversation with David, it was clear to me that he wanted to make something special, something different.  Working with him, I knew I’d be inspired and find ways to make the character my own.”

“For me it starts with the screenplay, and David’s are incredibly rich, the characters jump off the page, because he creates this incredible sense of reality,” Suckle says.  “What I love, too, is that he has this edginess to his writing; there’s a swagger in the characters and films that he’s made. He’s the perfect guy to take these Super-Villains and make them as palatable and exciting as anyone else in the world of a DC film.”

Roven readily agrees, adding, “One of the wonderful things about David’s writing is that he can certainly hit the dramatics, but he also gives these characters great personality, and that results in many of them having fabulous wit, great lines of dialogue that fit into the situation, that come from the character so they feel real.  Even in such intensified circumstances as these anti-heroes find themselves in, you just can’t help but laugh and enjoy them, they are just so unusually funny.  It’s an action adventure film that has a lot of dark humor to it.”

“For me, the power of the DC brand is its universal qualities; there is a truth to these characters,” Ayer says.  “They’re a vehicle for our modern values, but the characters themselves are also echoes of past mythologies.  That’s their timeless nature and why I think they’ll always be attractive.  And that’s why I was eager to tell a story with this particular set of characters, and to see them come to life on film.”

Few teams could be considered more visually appealing than the wildly colorful members of the Suicide Squad, who, along with the pure spectacle of the actioner’s larger-than-life battles and tenaciously hedonistic soundtrack, present an all-out psychedelic confection for summer moviegoers.

“We were blessed with inspired and imaginative influences throughout this process,” Roven states.  “In addition to having such an amazing writer/director in David, we had our incredible cast and our outstanding creative teams contributing in each phase of the production.  I think the richness of the world that these characters inhabit is going to appeal not just to comics fans, but to all movie fans.”

A fan of both mediums himself, Ayer says, “When you make a movie based on a comic, you hope you’re going to get that core audience of the fans, especially if you honor the source material.   But I believe a good movie also has to appeal to everybody, that these characters should be accessible to people who have never picked up a comic book—that was my goal here.  As in the comics themselves, there’s a lot of action and conflict, and the fighting gets seriously intense, but my hope is we’ve both respected and transcended the genre and made a fantastic film that lots of moviegoers can enjoy.”