Nobody’s going to deny that The Suicide Squad is one of, if not the single best movie to come out of the DCEU. James Gunn’s irreverent, foul-mouthed, gory and surprisingly subversive superhero blockbuster has been riding a wave of critical acclaim, but it unfortunately hasn’t managed to translate that into box office dollars.
After ten days in release the hybrid of sequel and reboot has earned $118 million worldwide, but domestic takings took a massive hit and it’s still miles away from matching the total David Ayer’s opener brought in during its very first day in theaters. The simultaneous HBO Max debut and R-rating can definitely be pinpointed as factors behind The Suicide Squad‘s under-performance, but Gunn revealed in a new interview that he wouldn’t have it any other way after Warner Bros. tried to nudge him in the direction of PG-13.
“I wrote the script the whole time, thinking they would let me make it, I mean, they asked, ‘Can you make this PG-13?’. I said no. I said, ‘You can make it and take it with somebody else, and they can direct it, and you can do a PG-13. But if I’m going to direct it, I want it to be R’. They were like, ‘Okay, that’s worth the trade-off for us’. So, they were great about it.”
The studio were more than likely trying to play it safe after watching Birds of Prey struggle to reach $200 million globally, and Harley Quinn’s solo outing didn’t even have a global pandemic to use as an excuse. Would The Suicide Squad have made more money by this stage if it was PG-13? Probably, but it also wouldn’t have been reflective of what Gunn had in mind for the project when he first signed on.
After the debacle surrounding David Ayer’s first installment, WB would have wanted sailing to be as smooth as possible, and having swooped into to land Gunn right after he was fired by Disney, it would have been a strange move to offer the Guardians of the Galaxy director any property of his choosing and then tell him to water it down when he picked The Suicide Squad.