The DC Extended Universe is bringing back a polarizing face to helm the just-announced Gotham City Sirens: Suicide Squad director David Ayer.
On Sunday, The Hollywood Reporter dropped news that the DCEU would produce its own version of Gotham City Sirens, a popular team-up series written by Paul Dini featuring Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman. The news was welcome, but one detail stood out as odd. The film is being directed by Ayer.
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) December 14, 2016
Ayer’s first go in the DCEU was a forgettable venture. Suicide Squad ranks atop the list of the most disappointing films in 2016. With fun, energetic trailers causing widespread hype, the final product was a sloppy and, at times, incoherent mess. Critics pillaged Suicide Squad as it released to a poor 26% Rotten Tomatoes score. More surprisingly, it only received a 65% audience score, a notoriously low rate for a superhero film.
For a movie featuring the first ever live action appearance of Quinn and a new Joker, frankly, that’s a hard feat to unintentionally pull off.
Ayer was handcuffed as Suicide Squad went through reshoots, was re-edited by the trailer company to make it zanier and had plenty of studio interference throughout. The critical failure isn’t entirely his fault. But the entire process was enough of a story that it seemed to be a given Ayer wouldn’t return for a Suicide Squad sequel, let alone another DC film entirely. But here we are.
So what gives? Well, there are a number of potential factors at play.
Gotham City Sirens will star Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She has an existing relationship with Ayer and perhaps used her considerable star power to help him land a second gig in the DCEU. Gotham City Sirens wouldn’t be possible without Robbie, who was one of the few bright spots in Suicide Squad.
More likely, however, is WB doesn’t give a crap what audiences thought about Suicide Squad. It was one of the top-grossing movies of the year, raking in nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Plus, Ayer’s direction, good or bad, helped launch two potential star characters in Quinn and Deadshot (Will Smith) who will both get their own features. Despite the critical failure, the big wigs at the studio were probably thrilled with Suicide Squad’s financial success, which is a justifiable reason to give Ayer a second chance with a character he excelled at.
It’s hard to remember, considering how big of a critical bomb Suicide Squad was, but Ayer was a well-liked director by critics. 2012’s End of Watch was considered to be one of the best cop movies of the decade while 2014’s Fury was a well-received, realistic war film. Ayer’s got the talent to direct action-packed blockbusters, so maybe a second chance at making a coherent superhero film is all that he needs.
Seeing a Gotham City Sirens film get a place on the DCEU schedule is exciting. It means the universe is going much deeper into some of Gotham’s most menacing villains than ever before. With a Ben Affleck solo Batman film on its way, it’s fantastic that the universe will be fleshed out and explored. There’s plenty of great source material available. It’s cool to see a world (Gotham) spread through multiple films start using all the best characters, instead of picking and choosing for solo Batman films like the past. Isn’t that what a cinematic universe is all about?
Gotham City Sirens could be a repeat of Suicide Squad and bomb in the eyes of critics. But WB probably isn’t too concerned with that, as much as they are about making serious coin. Ayer delivered in that regard. So take the news as WB betting on Ayer again, but a personal second chance for him to right a wrong in the eyes of fans. It will be interesting to see where Gotham City Sirens goes under Ayer.