There are times when fans are given a treat by the universe in the form of a real, unexpected win. Heath Ledger’s particular take on The Joker, for instance. Not many seemed to expect a great deal from it, and audiences were absolutely blown away by how he morphed into a comics-to-screen portrayal of The Clown Prince of Crime. He was darkly comical, he was frightening, and he was, above all else, undoubtedly The Joker. And fans breathed a sigh of relief before collectively, at least for the most part, celebrating.
And then, to prove that the universe has a sense of humor, it does things like unleash announcements that Mel Gibson is being considered to direct Suicide Squad 2. This seems like the perfect marriage of trying too hard to create the DC Cinematic Universe version of Avengers and the ongoing train wreck that is Mel Gibson’s later career endeavors (outside of his other hobbies, like drunken, anti-Semitic tirades and making the Bible more unsettling for cinemagoers). Alternatively, I think the safe question to ask when faced like things like this is a simple one: why?
For the blissfully uninitiated, Suicide Squad was, at best, a disjointed and bloated collection of character exposition, violence, and a mercifully minimal exposure to Jared Leto’s method acting as The Joker. It received mostly negative reviews, and was so lost in the shadow of how exceedingly bad Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was that a sequel should never even be an idea whispered in a back alley behind the Warner Bros. mail room by some sad, former employee, much less given actual consideration.
All of this said, Suicide Squad 2 could turn into a redemption tale for Warner Bros., DC Cinematic Universe films, and even the cast of Suicide Squad. The roadmap to not being another terrible DC film, if not an even worse DC film, seems pretty obvious.
First and foremost: absolutely no to Mel Gibson. His take on comic book cinema will either likely yield hyper-cartoonish along the vein of the older Batman movies or exceedingly dark and gritty—a direction DC needs to be fleeing from like Jared Leto likely envisions himself fleeing from seas of fans (who, like the Trump inauguration crowd, number fewer than he likely wants to admit). Make it dark but irreverent. Get some silliness and over-the-top slapstick in there, but not to the point where those are the dominant driving forces. Stop pretending the relationship between The Joker and Harley Quinn is anything less than creepy and abusive.
Should Mel Gibson end up directing Suicide Squad 2, is it fair to automatically assume it will be garbage? It is. Yes. Arguably, it will be another unfortunate misstep. Or, perhaps, Gibson could prove us all wrong and Suicide Squad 2 will be the phoenix rising from the dumpster fire ashes of the likes of Suicide Squad and Dawn of Justice. Time, hiring and casting decisions, and the direction DC (and Warner Bros.) choose to take will be the telling factors, but it’s not advised to hold one’s breath in hopes of cinematic genius here.
By Phil Gorski