James Gunn says Warner Bros. asked if he could make his R-rated The Suicide Squad script into a PG-13 movie, to which the director said: "If I'm going to direct it, I want it to be R." Gunn's gory and sometimes graphic not-a-sequel to David Ayer's PG-13-rated Suicide Squad is a heavy R — for "strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use, and brief graphic nudity," according to the MPAA rating. For all the swearing and supervillain slaughtering in The Suicide Squad, Gunn says his only condition was not neutering his script after the Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker was given free rein by DC and Warner Bros.
"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," Gunn told Collider. "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."
Gunn explained he has received studio notes from both DC and Marvel Studios, the Disney-owned producers of Gunn's PG-13 Guardians franchise, but said "any idea that I take in it's because I choose to take it, not because I'm being told to do something."
"I get notes from Marvel, and I get notes from DC, but no, they always said, 'You can take these or leave these. You can do whatever you want with these. If you want to take these notes, you can take them. If you don't want to take these notes, you don't have to take them.' It's never gotten anything beyond that ever," Gunn said. "So it's like, they give notes. Marvel gives more than DC does to me, but they're the same attitude of like, take what you want and leave the rest. I take a lot of them. There's a lot of good ideas in there. Even if I don't take them, one of the main things I do is I try them, especially while I'm editing. I try them out to see if they work."
In a previous interview, Gunn revealed the scene that Warner executives worried went "too far," but the studio did not interfere. Producer Peter Safran revealed in recent weeks that DC Films and Warner Bros. ultimately made Gunn's exact pitch for The Suicide Squad, telling Deadline the standalone is "exactly his movie."
"It did not change one iota. Literally, to the characters involved, who died, who the adversaries were, nothing changed. James knew exactly the movie that he wanted to make, and that is the movie that he delivered," Safran told Deadline. "I think that's why people have responded so beautifully to it, both critics and audiences alike. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be inside the head of James Gunn, this movie answers that question for you because it is the unfiltered vision of what he wanted to do. It's exactly his movie."
Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Sylvester Stallone, and Viola Davis, The Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max through September 6.