The ’80s ushered in a wave of popular film franchises, some that have stood the test of Father Time and the dreaded remake, and it appears no one knows this better than Shane Black. While the director is working on a third sequel to Predator, in a promising attempt to make the franchise relevant again, he is also carving out a unique niche for himself in Hollywood; a dependable director/writer with a knack for original and enjoyable storytelling. In a world dominated by remakes, this talent and originality is certainly welcomed.
Aside from a writing credit on the original Predator, Black was also instrumental in bringing to life another famous ’80s franchise; Lethal Weapon. With news that the buddy cop movie is to be adapted for television, as revealed by Slash Film, and a trailer dropping for the show this week, some fans were on the fence about the decision. Sure, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover may be a bit “too old for this s**t” as of now — 60 and 69, respectively — but it seems Shane Black was always prepared for one more outing with everyone’s favorite cop duo. That’s right, he had a treatment script ready for Lethal Weapon 5, and this week, he revealed the details about the sequel, one that is unlikely to see the light of day.
Shane Black is currently promoting his latest movie, The Nice Guys, but his past accomplishments are somewhat a gift and a curse; the media seems to be obsessed with the films that made the ’80s so enjoyable. It’s no secret that Black wrote the screenplay of the first Lethal Weapon movie, which introduced us to the unlikeliest of partners in unstable widowed cop Martin Riggs and dedicated family man Roger Murtaugh, but it seems the director was looking forward to one more round with the characters; he wrote a 62-page treatment for a fifth movie. Speaking to The Playlist, he revealed the following.
“It was interesting. It was essentially an older Riggs and Murtaugh in New York City during the worst blizzard in east coast history, fighting a team of expert Blackwater guys from Afghanistan that’s smuggling antiquities. And we had a young character that actually counter-pointed them. But I didn’t wanna do what people do when they’re trying to transition which is, they sorta put the two older guys in the movie, but really it’s about their son! And he’s gonna take over and we’re gonna do a spinoff. F**k that: If they’re gonna be in the movie, they’re gonna be in the movie — I don’t care how old they are.”
You can see Black’s point. A Lethal Weapon movie without Mel Gibson and Danny Glover is a somewhat pointless endeavor, and relegating them to a simple cameo or “passing of the torch” role would be a total disservice to the franchise. On the flip side, having two men in their sixties running around and fighting a bunch of enemies half their age, in a range of elaborately violent set pieces, is pushing the boundary of believability. Gibson was only in his forties when he starred in Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998, but even then he looked a little at odds when duking it out against a younger Jet Li. Lethal Weapon 5 has been mooted for years, despite the age of the actors, but it finally looks to be dead in the water with the arrival of the new TV series. Still, with Black’s Hollywood star currently shining bright, never say never.
Where Rocky, Die Hard and The Terminator are still going strong to this very day; due to creative storytelling, unforgettable characters, and immense popularity, they still needed to bring in younger cast members to help move the plot along. Shane Black has probably noticed this, and heavily objected to relegating the stars of the franchise to nothing but a bit-part; he even created an idea to make the older versions of the characters work in their universe. And setting it during a snowstorm allows the movie to take place during the festive season, the same setting as the original. Accidental or intentional? You decide.
For now, we’ll have to settle for the Fox TV series. Lethal Weapon 5 will probably never hit the big screen, but we’ll always have fond memories of the previous four installments. Riggs and Murtaugh may be “too old for this s**t,” and a little past their prime, but one thing is for sure; they will never be forgotten.
Lethal Weapon begins on Fox in 2016.
[Image via Warner Bros. Pictures]