On what Sucker Punch is about, and how the girls fit in:
If you look at Dawn of the Dead, and then you look at 300 and then Watchmen, and then this movie. This movie for me, by the end of Watchmen I’m like, ‘wow. I’m in genre deep. I got in this fucker deep’. By the end of Watchmen I kinda went like, ok, well, what does it mean? Where am I? What is this world? That’s kind of what Sucker Punch is. It’s kind of a response to that question of ‘what is genre?’
We could see that Baby Doll was a main character, but we hadn’t really put her anywhere. As I started to think about it, even though there’s no movies, like one of the questions is like ‘is it difficult to get a movie with females in the leads made in Hollywood, because there aren’t many films like that?’ And I’m like, right, I guess you’re right. But in some weird way, it’s kind of what you would imagine the holy grail of perfect fanboy, action genre movie would be.
If you think about it for a second, if I said, ‘what if it was these tough guys’, [fanboys might say] ‘OK, fair enough’. If I said, ‘what if it’s these beautiful girls’, ‘oh, wait a minute, that’s interesting’. You could feel the difference. To me the sort of self-reflexive, genre irony of it is the most important thing. It’s the ironic part of the movie.
On how it fits in with the rest of his work:
In some ways it’s a parody of my style. I’ve done my style so much that I almost did it in this movie. Doing it in this movie, in this context, with girls in these outfits and everything like that, you have to know that there is a very fine line, for me, between parody and taking the scene seriously. It is super-micro thin… The movie snakes across that line the entire time. I’m a goofy dork, but when it comes to making movies I’m pretty serious, and it would be impossible for me to make this movie without me being self aware, and slightly ironic. If you imagine this movie completely seriously, I don’t know…
On the negative response the film’s been getting from some quarters:
We were talking about the critical response to this movie in America, and people actually take the movie, critics actually take the movie one hundred percent seriously, that I meant it exactly like, ‘these girls, they go on adventures, and it’s awesome’. I’m like, ‘really. That’s cool. It’s cool that you.. just look at the other movies. You don’t see them, how they fit together?’ Anyway, not to complain, because I’m not a complainer, but I would just say that that’s an interesting thing to think about in the context of this movie, that the action sequences, sure, we’re like, firing on all cylinders; I know how to do that, and I know how to do that well, but we know how to do it so well now that it’s almost like, we’re going ‘alright, this is awesomely goofy, this bit here. That’s fun too. I’m not making fun of it necessarily, I still have a reverence for it, but it’s all conscious in a weird way. We do look at it from a distance and say ‘that’s ridiculous’.
On getting a PG-13 rating:
You’ve got to work around, OK, ‘she’s a virgin; MPAA doesn’t like the fact that she’s a virgin, so you’ve gotta work around that a little bit. It’s mentioned like a million times on the DVD, you’ll see that’s all they talk about, that in five days she’s going to get her virginity taken away. So that metaphor is right out there, the lobotomy and the virginity are the same thing.
I had no problem with the rating. I’m the one who said that this movie should be PG-13. I felt like the R-rated version of this movie would be very difficult to get passed. I think that it would be a super-fun movie, but it would be for a very narrow audience.
That scene with Blue at the end of the movie, when he’s got Baby Doll in the room, in the original script, the way I wrote it, she beats him, because he can’t get an erection. He literally can’t get an erection. He’s trying to get an erection and he can’t, and he tries and tries and tries, and then the cops come and take him away, and then she won.
I’m interested in that challenge though, of how do I do that scene without showing that? I think that part was challenging, because I knew that if I made the movie for fifteen million dollars, I could do that, and everybody would be like, ‘it’s a crazy art film’, because that’s what it would be.
On the importance of the action sequences:
The movie exists as this meditation on genre, and I think, as a meditation on genre, as a discussion of genre films, for me, it needed the action to really talk to genre, and that was the thing that I really wanted to explore. Sure there’s fetishistic parts of the movie that I’m like, ‘damn’ in my crazy, back of my brain that loves fetish and craziness, is made, but in a broader sense, as a way of examining and talking about the cinematic thematics of the movie. In some ways, the fact that it’s a PG-13 is also part of the conversation. It allows the very sort of audience that those movies are designed for to get to see it, and maybe there’s a few fourteen year olds that see the movie who think ‘oh fuck, I get this. He’s doing this on purpose’.
On the film’s self-awareness:
The movie’s self aware in a lot of ways. Even when Sweet Pea says to Baby Doll, they’re in the bedroom just after the samurai sequence, and they’re all in the bunks, and she says, ‘the dance wasn’t that great. All that moaning and gyrating, you didn’t tell a story’, that’s the point. That’s like, the genre comment on the scene. Even before that, when the fantasy’s just started, she has that conversation with Miss Gorski, I pared that scene down. Before that scene was so on the nose, I felt it was too obvious. In the old version, we filmed it, she says, ‘this is a joke right, a lobotomised vegetable. This is the worst ending ever, you gotta think of something else’, and Gorsky goes ‘I was going for something more artistic’ and she goes, ‘artistic, have you seen the sort of people who come to these shows, they don’t want to see anything artistic, you need to think of something funny. Someone needs to drive into the sunset, or something like that. That’s a good ending’. I just thought that was so overt, for me, maybe it would have been helpful for some people. I don’t know.