UPDATE: Less than a day after the news named Mel Gibson as Warner Bros’ top prospect to direct its developing follow-up to 2016’s Suicide Squad, Gibson himself has chimed on the matter. On Wednesday evening, Gibson was engaged in a Q&A following a screening for his film Hacksaw Ridge, when a the conversation diverted from the Best Picture nominee onto the recent rumors about his potential new DC Comics project. As reported by Batman News and captured on video by CineLinx’s Collin Llewellyn, Gibson was asked by his moderator, “Is this getting close to a deal or is it a first date?”
The director is reported to have replied, “It’s kind of a first date.” Too ambiguous to assume anything either way, of course, but evidence enough that Gibson is indeed in talks for–and apparently interested in–the job.
These are tense and uncertain times. Facts and feelings are frequently confused for one another, and we’re on the brink of unprecedented happenings the world over. So, naturally it was announced (as we first read on THR) that Mel Gibson is being courted to direct the Suicide Squad sequel.
The timeline is dark, friends.
Gibson is mostly known, and praised, for his exemplary directing work in movies like Braveheart and Apocalypto. But it was his 2000s string of run-ins—namely a DUI police stop where he used derogatory slang about the female police officer and subsequent antisemitic remarks, plus a bit of alleged domestic assault—that put him in “movie jail.” But, perhaps because of his recent Oscar-nominated work, Hacksaw Ridge, Warner Bros rethought their stance on him.
Nerdist has reached out for further comment, but had not heard back at the time of publication—we will update as information becomes available.
More and more, my colleagues and I have been having a conversation about whether an artist’s persona and ethos should affect how people see their art, and I have been coming down on the side of, yes, it absolutely should, more and more. Why should we award and heap accolades upon someone who had previously revealed their true colors to be hateful and misogynistic? People can have comebacks, but they usually involve apologies or public recompense for their deeds (if there’s actual culpability and remorse). And yet more and more, Hollywood has been giving people who’ve shown little-to-no acknowledgement of their wrongs a second (or third, or fourth…) chance to win Oscars or get plum roles in popular blockbusters and franchises.
The first Suicide Squad was met with extremely divisive reaction from fans—and pretty much universal derision from critics—and has still made enough money to warrant a fast-tracked sequel. Why, then, when the property has been given a second chance, would DC Comics be okay with the next director having this kind of baggage, that at best can be considered unfavorable? And maybe it’s not the best thing to put a film that depicts the fractious and unhealthy relationship between a woman and her abusive boyfriend—which was treated particularly glibly in the first movie—in the hands of somebody who was previously accused of domestic violence and voiced a low opinion of women, not to mention utter hateful disdain of people of the Jewish heritage?
It ultimately doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the offending years in Mel Gibson’s life, because the baggage will always taint Suicide Squad 2, even if the movie is the best that WB and DC ever make. Given the response on Twitter this afternoon, it’s too soon for Mel Gibson to be getting the opportunity to win Oscars and direct blockbusters again. It’s antithetical to the ethos employed by all of DC’s greatest heroes, even if the movie in question is about bad guys.
It all just doesn’t make sense, you guys. Sanity is a dream.
Question for fans: what is most important in a SUICIDE SQUAD 2 director?
— DrewMcWeeny (@DrewMcWeeny) February 15, 2017
Images: SND Films/Warner Bros
Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist and an avowed DC Comics fanboy. Follow him on Twitter!