Del Toro's a "cheerleader" for Death Stranding - but too many yes men are a recipe for disaster

Director and horror buff Guillermo del Toro has been speaking more about his role in Hideo Kojima's upcoming Death Stranding, clarifying that, while he's appearing, he's not involved creatively. 

Speaking to IGN del Toro explained, "I’m involved as a character. He’s discussed his ideas so I could understand the character, but other than that I’m not involved, creatively, at all."

Del Toro continues, "this is entirely Kojima-san’s game. I think it’s gonna be a fantastic game, 100%. But this is him and his ideas. I’m just a puppet in his hands. My contribution is limited to being a cheerleader for his ideas and being scanned for long hours at a time. That’s about it."

It's that "being a cheerleader" bit that worries me. Since Kojima's fallout with Konami he seems to be surrounding himself with people who adore him. Mainly big name stars like del Toro, Norman Reedus, and Mads Mikkelsen. This is not great creatively. 

Up until this point Kojima has been an incredible director with some amazing ideas, but historically there's a precedent for people producing their best work when they had to fight for it. Great creativity often comes from struggle - when artists are forced to make hard decisions and prove their worth. 

Having everyone adore you and say yes is often disastrous. Take George Lucas. The first Star Wars film was notoriously difficult to make, and it was only his faith and perseverance that held it together. He took a break after that for Empire and let Irvin Kershner direct instead, before coming back for Return of the Jedi. By that point the franchise was a phenomenon. And we got ewoks. Then there were the prequels. It was the same with the Wachowski sisters: they had to make a whole other film (Bound) to prove they could direct before they were allowed to make The Matrix. It was so successful we got those two sequels. 

In both those cases Lucas and the Wachowskis went from fighting to realise their dream to having adoring fans and money thrown at them. Without having to question what they were doing, they lost their edge and we got Jar Jar and a CGI Keanu Reeves. Too many 'yes men' is never great. You need the odd 'no'. 

Currently Kojima has a legion of fans and some of the biggest names in Hollywood saying how great he is. While Sony is throwing money at him and funding world tours. That doesn't mean Death Stranding won't be great but there's a huge contrast between his life at Konami and his current situation. If he's surrounded by people saying he can do no wrong and he no longer questions his decisions, how will that affect his work? 

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Leon Hurley
Senior Guides Co-ordinator

I'm GamesRadar's Senior Guides Co-ordinator, which means I run GamesRadar's guides and tips content. I also write reviews, previews and features, largely about horror, action adventure, FPS and open world games. I previously worked on Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website.