'Suicide Squad' Director David Ayer Says Critically Bashed Movie 'Broke Me'

David Ayer says his 2016 film 'Suicide Squad' was turned into 'a f------ comedy' after 'Deadpool' won over audiences and 'Batman v. Superman' floundered

Suicide Squad director David Ayer is speaking out about how the negative reactions to his 2016 superhero film affected him personally.

During Ayer's recent appearance on Jon Bernthal's Real Ones podcast, the filmmaker, 55, named Suicide Squad when Bernthal, 46, asked what he believes is the "biggest heartbreak" of his career.

“Hollywood, I tell people, is like watching someone you love get f----- by someone you hate," Ayer said. "There’s a couple of [heartbreaks] — the big one is Suicide Squad. That s--- broke me. That handed me my a--."

The filmmaker, who worked with Bernthal on the 2014 World War II movie Fury, said after that movie's release he "had the town in my hand" as he prepared to write and direct Suicide Squad, part of what DC Films — now DC Studios — initially planned as its DC Cinematic Universe. Ayer went on to say that the studio altered his Suicide Squad significantly in response to how critics reacted to two other 2016 superhero movies: Deadpool and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Warner Bros. Pictures, which owns DC Studios and distributed Suicide Squad, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Related: Joel Kinnaman Admits First 'Suicide Squad' Wasn't the 'Movie That We Hoped We Were Going to Make'

<p>Moviestore/Shutterstock</p> Margot Robbie and Jared Leto in 'Suicide Squad'


Margot Robbie and Jared Leto in 'Suicide Squad'

"Deadpool opened and then they never tested Batman vs. Superman, so they put the movie out there and they never did a test [screening] and they were expecting a different result and they got hammered by all the critics and then it’s like ‘okay, we’re going to turn David Ayer’s dark soulful movie into a f------ comedy now,' " Ayer said.

Suicide Squad proved 2016's ninth highest-grossing movie at the domestic box office, but it received dismal reviews from critics and audiences alike. Ayer told Bernthal that he believes he "became the bad guy narratively" as the studio responded to the movie's poor reception.

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<p>Moviestore/Shutterstock</p> Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (left) and Margot Robbie (right) in 'Suicide Squad'


Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (left) and Margot Robbie (right) in 'Suicide Squad'

“It’s their movie,” he said, when Bernthal asked how the studio and the film’s producers could alter the project so drastically. "They never tested my cut. I have a copy of it. If I didn’t, oh my God, because everyone I’ve shown the cut has the same reaction. Rage. Like, ‘this is the movie we wanted, why didn’t we get this?’ “

<p>Moviestore/Shutterstock</p> Margot Robbie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Will Smith, Karen Fukuhara, Jai Courtney in 'Suicide Squad'


Margot Robbie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Will Smith, Karen Fukuhara, Jai Courtney in 'Suicide Squad'

Related: Jared Leto Denies Gifting Margot Robbie a Dead Rat on Set of 'Suicide Squad' : 'That's Not True'

Asked how he looks back on Suicide Squad, Ayer said: “I’m ambivalent, man. I have to own my life and I have to own my journey and my experiences…. That taught me I have to have control over my work. I have to have control over my work and I won’t get in a situation where I don’t have that control ever again, because they will strap a bomb to your back and bury you in a f------ crater.”

Ayer has been speaking out about his version of Suicide Squad since at least 2021, when he wrote an entire letter about how his film was different than the movie that released in theaters in response to a movie critic who suggested James Gunn's 2021 The Suicide Squad reimagining was significantly better.

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