Mel Gibson is one of the most recognizable actors on the planet, a successful movie star who helped turn the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon franchises into worldwide successes, and the Academy Award winning director of Braveheart who just this year earned another Oscar nomination for his World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge.
So ordinarily it would come as little surprise that he’s in the running to direct a major blockbuster like Suicide Squad 2, the upcoming sequel to last summer’s supervillain team-up that starred Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Jared Leto. Mel Gibson confirmed the news himself at last night’s Q&A screening of Hacksaw Ridge, describing the talks as a “first date” between himself and Warner Bros (via Batman-News). But the context here is a little different.
Before we go any further, let’s clarify that it’s far from certain at this point that Mel Gibson will actually take the job. Variety reports that several other directors are under consideration for Suicide Squad 2, including Daniel Espinoza (Life), Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies) and Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland). David Ayer, the director of the first Suicide Squad, has moved on to another DC Extended Universe project, Gotham City Sirens, which will highlight various female superheroes and villains. Margot Robbie is producing and expected to return on-camera as Harley Quinn.
And again, ordinarily this would be a standard piece of movie news. A director with several hits under his belt, fresh off of an Oscar nomination, in talks to direct a high-profile project for a major studio. But industry analysts are looking closely at Mel Gibson right now, because despite his multiple early successes the filmmaker became a controversial figure in 2006, after a drunk driving arrest led to the actor yelling out anti-semitic rhetoric.
The Passion of the Christ director didn’t make another movie for several years, and when he returned his films struggled to find an audience. Since 2010, Mel Gibson has acted in non-starters like Edge of Darkness and The Beaver, and disappointing sequels like Machete Kills and The Expendables 3.
It wasn’t until Hacksaw Ridge became a box office success, earned a “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes and received six Oscar nominations including Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture that Mel Gibson has seemingly earned back Hollywood’s good graces. But is the road to redemption finally over for Mel Gibson? Are audiences as eager to forget as his industry connections? Or is this story still far from over?
We don’t know the answers yet, but we’ll be watching closely to see how Hollywood handles his return to the limelight, and how audiences respond to the filmmaker taking on high-profile superhero projects.
Where Oscar Winners Keep Their Oscars
Top Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.