Content Warning: This article discusses anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny, and homophobia
While Lethal Weapon 5 killing off Martin Riggs might seem like the easiest way to salvage the series, things are not that simple for the belated sequel. According to series star Mel Gibson, the Lethal Weapon franchise is on its way back to the big screen after a multi-decade absence. Gibson claimed that he was taking over directorial duties on the sequel after the passing of the late, great Richard Donner, and the actor said that the much-delayed final chapter in the Lethal Weapon franchise would likely start filming in 2023. However, the series faces an uphill struggle.
For one thing, Gibson’s history of racist, misogynistic, antisemitic, and homophobic comments has turned many viewers off the actor’s work. For another, Gibson’s Dragged Across Concrete role proved that the actor wasn’t averse to playing characters that played off and glorified his public persona, with the star appearing as a corrupt, prejudiced cop guilty of police brutality in that controversial 2019 thriller. It would seem like the easiest way for Lethal Weapon 5 to work around this issue would be for the sequel to kill off Gibson’s Martin Riggs, but this won’t work for numerous reasons.
Killing Riggs In Lethal Weapon 5 Is Too Obvious
Shane Black’s original script for Lethal Weapon 2 famously killed off Riggs, as did the Lethal Weapon TV show in its season 2 finale when star Clayne Crawford was fired for inappropriate onset behavior. However, Lethal Weapon 5 can’t copy the TV show’s approach here. While the controversies surrounding Gibson and the character’s advancing age make it tempting for Lethal Weapon 5 to kill off Riggs, this ignores the fact that Riggs and Murtaugh’s chemistry is the main reason that viewers want a fifth Lethal Weapon movie in the first place.
Lethal Weapon 5 is a compelling prospect because the belated sequel would reunite Danny Glover’s taciturn family man Roger Murtaugh and Gibson’s legendary live wire Riggs for the first time in years. If Riggs is killed off, this death would adversely impact the formula of the series. There is no Lethal Weapon without both Gibson and Glover, something that became unavoidably apparent when reviews for the franchise’s TV show spinoff were first published. As such, Lethal Weapon 5’s franchise reboot can’t allow Martin Riggs to follow in the footsteps of James Bond, Luke Skywalker, and Iron Man with a heroic death.
Riggs Dying Ruins Lethal Weapon 5’s Biggest Draw
The chemistry between Gibson and Glover is still Lethal Weapon 5’s biggest draw and the primary reason that viewers want to see another sequel to the franchise. While Lethal Weapon 2 could have killed off Gibson and the franchise might have been able to continue without the actor, this is because the Lethal Weapon series was at its critical and commercial peak in the late ‘80s. Since then, the canceled Lethal Weapon TV show, the underwhelming Lethal Weapon 3, and the racist, unfunny Lethal Weapon 4 have made the franchise’s reputation less bulletproof, meaning that Lethal Weapon 5 needs both of its original heroes to win back an audience.