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Why Mel Gibson Directing Lethal Weapon 5 Has Fans Seeing Red

The "Lethal Weapon" films remain some of the most popular movies in action cinema history. Though the franchise hasn't released a single film since the 1998 release of "Lethal Weapon 4," attempts to add a fifth "Lethal Weapon" movie to the series have long been simmering in the background of Hollywood (via ComingSoon.net). 

Some of the first official news on a potential fifth entry in the series came in December 2020 when director Richard Donner confirmed to The Telegraph that he would be directing one more "Lethal Weapon" movie and that it would be his last film. Sadly, Donner died in July, and the project has been up in the air since. 

News comes today, however, that a face familiar to the "Lethal Weapon" series is prepared to pick up directing responsibilities. More than 34 years after Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) first pronounced himself "too old for this s—," The Hollywood Reporter has intel indicating that "Lethal Weapon" star Mel Gibson will direct the long-awaited fifth entry in the franchise. Gibson directing a "Lethal Weapon" movie would make it the first film in the franchise to not be directed by the late Donner.

According to reporting from British tabloid The Sun, Gibson claims that Donner himself requested that he pick up the reins in his stead and Gibson reluctantly accepted. "He was developing the screenplay and he got pretty far along with it," Gibson reportedly said. "And he said to me one day, 'Listen kid, if I kick the bucket, you will do it.' And I said: 'Shut up.'" 

Deadline further reports that despite Gibson's statements, he has not yet signed a final deal to direct, but is negotiating with Warner Bros to do so. Despite Donner's apparent blessing, the public response from fans has been mixed.

Mel Gibson's past comments are haunting him

This latest move by Gibson represents just one more piece of the controversial Academy Award-winning actor and director's attempt at rehabilitation in Hollywood. Gibson has a long history of making antisemitic and racist comments which range from downplaying the Holocaust to claiming "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" (via Newsweek). 

Social media reactions varied from excitement for another "Lethal Weapon" film to disgust at seeing Gibson succeed in spite of his prior comments. One Twitter user posted a link to a story about the news with the comment, "Oh yeah. Let's do this. Very excited." Another Twitter user responded to Deadline's tweet about the news with a screenshot of Gibson's leaked 2010 racist rant to his girlfriend. Other Twitter users made political arguments about "cancel culture."

In one tweet, Josh Kurp, a writer for Uproxx, suggested continuing the franchise without Gibson and cited the success of 2015's "Mad Max: Fury Road" as justification. That film saw Tom Hardy take over the titular role from Mel Gibson, who appeared in the first three films of the "Mad Max" franchise.

Just last month, Gibson was added to the cast of the upcoming "John Wick" prequel series "The Continental" (per Deadline). Gibson previously directed "Hacksaw Ridge," "Apocalypto," "The Passion of the Christ," "Braveheart," and "The Man Without A Face" (via IMDb).