'Suicide Squad' director David Ayer cops to criticism over treatment of Harley Quinn

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·2-min read
Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad (Credit: Warner Bros)
Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad (Credit: Warner Bros)

David Ayer appears to have concurred with criticism of how Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn was depicted in his movie Suicide Squad.

The director has come under scrutiny for appearing to objectify and over-sexualise Robbie's character in the 2016 movie.

She was depicted in skimpy clothes and in what appeared to be an abusive relationship with Jared Leto’s Joker.

Read More: 'Birds of Prey': The twisted history of Harley Quinn

This appeared to have been redressed in the recent, more empowering Birds of Prey movie, in which Robbie reprised her role, and thus has brought into some perspective Ayer's apparent choices.

Chatting with followers on Twitter, he explained: “Sadly her story arc was eviscerated. It was her movie in so many ways. Look I tried. I rendered Harley comic book accurate. Everything is political now. Everything. I just want to entertain. I will do better.”

Ayer on the Suicide Squad set with Viola Davis (Credit: Warner Bros)
Ayer on the Suicide Squad set with Viola Davis (Credit: Warner Bros)

But one movie buff seemed to cut through the noise, explaining that politics on the screen is unavoidable.

“A female character in an abusive relationship is already political, my dude. The way your camera looked at her was political. The way you used her was political. You treated her as an object and she still rose above it. That was political too,” they said.

Read more: Birds of Prey director disputes movie was a flop

“Harley was exploited in Suicide Squad - her suffering was exploited, her body was exploited, she was objectified. Birds of Prey breaks that in half and shows it for what it is: violation and abuse. Birds of Prey is a deconstruction of Suicide Squad's male gaze.”

So persuasive was the argument, that Ayer appeared to cop to the criticism, and retweeted the comment, adding: “Retweeting because this is very thoughtfully written. Thank you for this. I am growing and learning in a changing world.”

Ayer's movie was battered by critics on its release, though it did haul in nearly $750 million at the worldwide box office.

The Birds of Prey movie did much less impressive business, making just over $200 million, Variety reporting that it would need to have made around $250 - $300 million to break even.

A Suicide Squad sequel, called The Suicide Squad and being helmed by James Gunn, is due for release in 2021, with Robbie back as Quinn.