David Ayer is in the spotlight after the release of Suicide Squad – a harsher spotlight than he may have expected. The American director has built a career in Hollywood based on gritty, action-driven movies. Here’s a look at where he is now and how he got to helm the DC Comics blockbuster.
David Ayer – The Suicide Squad Spotlight
After the disappointing results from DC Comics’ Batman v Superman earlier this year, the DC universe creators, along with Warner Bros. studios, were pinning their hopes of franchise success on Suicide Squad. That pressure spilled over after the film’s release earlier this week in overseas markets and a string of negative reviews.
David Ayer responded to critics on Twitter.
Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas – Emiliano Zapata
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) August 2, 2016
Zapata quote is my way of saying I love the movie and believe in it. Made it for the fans. Best experience of my life. ❤️
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) August 2, 2016
Fellow filmmaker Kevin Smith has spoken out in defense of David Ayer and Suicide Squad in the wake of all the negative publicity. Smith — who named his daughter after Harley Quinn, the uber sexy supervillain of Suicide Squad — said Ayer “made magic.” Smith posted a picture of the two of them on his Instagram account along with a post talking about how much he enjoyed Suicide Squad along with End of Watch and Fury, two of David Ayer’s previous directorial efforts.
I look up to @suicidesquadmovie maker #DavidAyer. His #endofwatch, shot with a mixture of media including dashboard & body cams, was the work of a true filmmaker. And I don't know how he got me to love a tank movie, but #fury is another amazing Ayer effort. When I heard he was shepherding a cinematic #suicidesquad, my already-high interests in a @dccomics movie shot over the top: what would a gritty guy like Dave do with the likes of #Deadshot & #HarleyQuinn? Well I think he made magic and did #dccomics proud. The #Squad movie doesn't look like any other comic book flick I've ever seen. The periodic use of both #Batman and the #joker as background characters instead of the usual leads was thrilling and felt like our first real glimpse at an interconnected #dceu. The cast is top notch but Harley, as expected, steals the show. The #jokerandharley beats are simply wonderful for a longtime fan to watch and make you immediately wanna see the all-Harley movie they already announced. Throwaway moments made me so happy (like Katana and her Soultaker sword) but this flick as a whole had me smiling the whole time. Thanks to her name, my kid @harleyquinnsmith_ was already on board for this movie – and she loved it (like LOVED it). I'll be heading back to see it again tonight so expect a brand new #FatManOnBatman review soon. #KevinSmith
David Ayer Films
As noted by Yahoo Movies, before David Ayer added directing to his resume, he was a screenwriter. His credits included the Denzel Washington/Ethan Hawke flick Training Day along with The Fast and the Furious, among others. Along with the current Suicide Squad blowback, his career in movies has seen its ups and downs.
David Ayer’s setting for Training Day reflected on his own upbringing in South Central Los Angeles. It was also the backdrop for Harsh Times (2005), starring Christian Bale and Freddie Rodriguez in the story of an ex-Army Ranger (Bale) drawn into the neighborhood’s violence. According to Box Office Mojo, the film made less than $6 million from all markets. Yahoo Movies calls the dialog for the testosterone-fueled film “over cooked.” Like Suicide Squad, the movie features an ensemble of characters.
He followed Harsh Times with Street Kings in 2008, another violent crime driven flick starring Keanu Reeves as an LAPD detective who finds himself embroiled in a complicated plot to make it look like he’s murdered another police officer. It didn’t create a box office buzz but did reinforce Ayer’s reputation for being able to create West Coast mayhem on the screen.
End of Watch (2012) stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as LA police officers at war with a Mexican drug cartel. The film uses a documentary-style approach to give it a street-level quality. While it too wasn’t a big box-office success, it was generally well received. Heyuguys calls it “one of our favorite films of the last decade.”
In 2014, David Ayer directed Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sabotage. The premise sounds like something right up his alley – crooked DEA special ops members picked off one by one by mysterious enemies, full of bad guy camaraderie – but it ended up garnering only $5.3 million. It was Schwarzenegger’s worst opening in 30 years.
Also released in 2014, Fury moves the macho action to the battlefield. The film follows a group of World War II soldiers manning a tank near the end of the long global conflict. Led by Brad Pitt as the sergeant, the group battles their way through enemy territory after a vehicle accident. With a bigger budget and solid if not spectacular results, it led to David Ayer’s shot at the DC Comics anti-hero film.
David Ayer – What’s Next?
So what’s next for David Ayer? In an interview with JoBlo, he mentioned shooting Bright, a supernatural crime thriller, working again with Suicide Squad’s Will Smith along with Joel Edgerton in leading roles. With a $90 million budget according to Collider, the Netflix thriller is significantly smaller in scope than Suicide Squad’s $175 million price tag.
David Ayer told JoBlo reporters he’d be open to the idea of making another Suicide Squad film and said he’d love to take on the pinnacle of the DC Comics universe.
“I love Superman, I think Superman would be amazing.”
Whether David Ayer will get a chance at the next Superman movie may depend on whether Suicide Squad can overcome the bad reviews to become a fan favorite.
[Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images]