Director David Ayer was still hard at work on set, but we did get to talk to him later in the day. One of our more pressing questions was where he got his influences when writing Suicide Squad and deciding on the line-up. “It’s interesting. I wanted to do sort of an amalgamation, because I love the Ostrander series, and there’s some fantastic situations–the concept of it is very solidly there,” he told us. “The idea of this team of bad guys run by Amanda Waller doing dirty work for the government. Obviously Croc, he doesn’t feature into the original Ostrander series, but the situations–I’m not going to tell you which one I pulled the plot out of–but pretty much everything that happens is true to the source material, whether it’s Ostrander’s work, the New 52 or some of the Joker comics or other source material.”
“There are characters that are part of the Suicide Squad that aren’t in this room so they aren’t necessarily in this film,” Roven told us earlier, to which Suckle added, “David came in and there was a sandbox, and the ones that you see are the ones that he wanted to write into the movie and tell their story or at least a portion of their story as it relates to this movie, but these are the ones he chose and the ones that he felt would make the best team for the first movie.”
“I mean that’s the whole point of it, is that they are so expendable to a great degree,” Ayer expressed, when asked about how expendable the members of this team might be compared to the comics. “They’re criminals, so what rights do they have as individuals? Even the right to live seems to be revocable, especially for Amanda Waller, where any tactic works. That exactly figures importantly into the movie and that’s their journey. Again, you have these people that have been told by society what they are, and put in a box, put in a cage, literally. Do they have the right to grow? Can they change? Can they be good people? Do they have the same joys, loves, spirits that we have? That’s what I’m really enjoying exploring with them.”
We were also told that A.R.G.U.S., an organization created under Geoff Johns’ run on the Justive League during the New 52 would also play a part in the movie, although Ayer wouldn’t tell us how.
The Zack Snyder & Geoff Johns Influence
As you’re probably well aware by now, Warner Bros.’ DC Cinematic Universe isn’t a one-man show and in recent months, there’s been a lot of talk about how things are already changing post-Batman v Superman as well as how Geoff Johns is taking on a larger role in making the movies. Producer Chuck Roven even said as much about that a year ago, when he told us: “There’s a brain trust at DC and Geoff Johns sort of runs that brain trust. It’s impossible to know all of the history, all of the lore.”
“He does, though,” Suckle chimed in before Roven continued. “If David is saying, ‘Hey, I know I want this one a member, this one a member.. but I’m trying to craft a story that moves in this direction, who is somebody that I might want to focus on?’ I think he did do that a couple of times.”
“He definitely did. He spent a couple of sessions with Geoff,” Roven adds. “So out of that interaction one or two additional characters may have been replaced or may have been adjusted. And that’s Geoff Johns, executive producer on the movies and he earns that title by contributing all this huge knowledge that he has of the whole universe.”
“I think it’s been a great relationship with Geoff. He’s sort of the keeper of the scrolls,” Ayer would confirm later. “He’s the scribe of the DC Universe over there at Warners, and obviously DC Comics. With his encyclopedic knowledge it’s like, ‘Hey, I need a thing that can do these four things but not do this one thing. ‘Oh, you need this. Da, da, da.’ Boom. Okay, it’s going in the script. Having somebody who’s so absolutely literate of the DC world is fantastic.
And as far as Snyder, who some thought was the wrong person to oversee the DC Universe after the disappointing Batman v Superman? This was Roven’s take on Snyder’s involvement circa June 2015. “Well, both him and Debbie Snyder, they’re both executive producers, and again, the Snyders, along with Geoff Johns and myself, John Berg also at Warner Bros, we sort of look at the whole universe and we’re say the creators of the sandbox, if you will. On a certain level, anything that’s in the sandbox, you will have knowledge of, throw our ideas out but not necessarily control, because we still want to give every filmmaker a tremendous amount of control over the areas of the sandbox that they’re governing.”
Ayer also talked about how he was working with Snyder when it comes to sharing characters for Suicide Squad. “I’m sharing some assets with other movies and some things I’m doing, there will be a baton passed to other directors and other projects. I’ve had really an open hand to develop this world, but I’ve worked with Zack. I’ve talked with Zack. I know what Zack’s doing on his movies and how this will interface. It’s being respectful of his work and as I say, I’m just standing at the shoulders of giants here. So many people have come before me in the genre, I really feel blessed to be able to play in this world and then to be able to spin off the bad kids version is just a lot of fun for me.”
Ayer has referred to as his film as an ensemble piece and that’s definitely true with the number of characters, so many in fact that we thought it best to break it down so that we can talk about each individually.