The name “Mel Gibson” has been so synonymous with the word “insane” over the past decade that it’s never a surprise to hear the two uttered in the same sentence.
It’s new, though, to get DC thrown into this particular mix as well—that said, it’s not hugely surprising, considering their latest crop of directionless movies that amount to little more than big budget fight scenes and fictional character assassination.
So here’s the question? Are the Higher Ups at DC truly insane to be considering Mel Gibson as a director for Suicide Squad 2?
Perhaps not—but they might well be incredibly cynical, shortsighted, and opportunistic.
Here’s the problem with DC as of late: it always feels as if ninety percent of the effort that’s expended on a movie is focused on the marketing, and that the movies themselves are all a little lacking in genuine substance.
Of course, it’s true that most big movie studios will focus on making as big of a marketing splash as possible—take Deadpool for example. But while the Deadpool marketing team went out of their way to generate an insane amount of buzz, with their fake Valentine’s Day posters and their PSAs about testicular cancer, the movie was of a high enough quality to back this up.
DC, for the most part, is so focused on that initial buzz of excitement, that the studio often overlooks the long term viability of their movies.
Zack Snyder’s directorial style certainly fits well with the marketing-heavy approach to moviemaking. His love of creating iconic visuals translates fantastically into teasers and photos, despite causing horrendous issues for his movies’ overall pacing and narrative logic.
The problem with this method of filmmaking is readily apparent in the box office returns for Batman v Superman over time. Despite enjoying an impressive opening weekend, the movie experienced a massive drop-off in revenue as audiences warned their friends against seeing a bloated three hour drudge of a film.
What really got the DC marketing machine spinning last year, though, was Suicide Squad. Everything about this film was overhyped to the point of ridiculousness.
Every time Leto sent his costar a live rat or a used condom, the internet exploded with discussion. For major news outlets, the headlines wrote themselves, as they criticized Leto for his weird antics.
Controversy sells, and no controversy sells quite as much as destructive craziness.
This is the dirtiest, most morally repugnant form of advertising. It’s also among the most effective. It takes clickbait to its ultimate extreme, riling people up into a frenzy until they have no choice but to take action out of spite.
If this sounds familiar, let’s just say that Suicide Squad’s marketing approach shares plenty of attributes with a certain presidential campaign from last year.
So what does all this have to do with Mel Gibson?
Well, if we accept that, at this point, DC cares more about its marketing than about its movies’ actual quality, it’s safe to assume that the studio will begin making filmmaking decisions which are more about branding than about storytelling.
If, then, the studio needs a director for Suicide Squad 2, and they want to generate as much public discussion as possible about their choice, regardless of how good the final movie will be, then they might as well choose someone who’ll instantly grab headlines by being an insane choice.
Say, for example, a former A-lister whose anti-Semitic comments saw him effectively blacklisted from Hollywood until he went out and directed an Oscar nominated movie? That’s a pretty good choice for courting controversy.
As successful as this strategy might prove, though, it’s ultimately short-sighted.
DC can’t keep burning their bridges forever. As effective as their nasty marketing might be, eventually, audiences will be too desensitized to care, and too sick of DC movies to be surprised when they hire the guy behind The Passion of the Christ to direct a comic book flick.
Soon, the studio will need to start escalating their controversy efforts in order to achieve the same success. They’ll need to get more and more obnoxious, all in order to maintain some semblance of relevance among jaded comic book fans.
The problem is, this kind of practice poisons the well for everyone. DC has the potential to ruin comic book movies for everyone, as audiences become disinterested in watching more nonsensical garbage that’s fueled by hate and bigotry.
It’s probably wrong to suggest that Mel Gibson will inadvertently destroy the superhero movie genre.
That said, it’s hard to rule the possibility out entirely.