While he does have a controversial past, there's no denying James Gunn's abilities as a film maker. (Image via National Review)
While he does have a controversial past, there's no denying James Gunn's abilities as a film maker. (Image via National Review)

By Poaching James Gunn, Warner Bros. Hopes to Turn Around DC’s Flailing Universe

Could losing the controversial filmmaker cost Disney?
October 19, 2018
8 mins read

Fifty-two-year-old American filmmaker James Gunn was set to direct the third installment of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise up until July 2018, when a few old tweets resurfaced. Eight years ago, Gunn tweeted several controversial statements that align with issues of pedophilia, racism and sexual assault. Gunn has tried to explain himself, as he claims his tweets were only jokes, and that he has since matured from that sort of behavior.

However, despite Gunn’s apology, Disney dropped him as a director from the Marvel films, stating his tweets are “indefensible and inconsistent” with their values. That being said, things took a turn for the worse when Warner Bros. hired James Gunn to write and possibly direct DC’s “Suicide Squad” sequel a couple weeks ago.

An analysis provided for Business Outsider addressed the negative outcry of opinions that emerged when Gunn was fired from Disney, and the positive reaction he received when he signed on with Warner Bros. It showed that people were excited for the future of “Suicide Squad” and were excited to see what James Gunn had in store for the DC cinematic universe despite his leave from Disney. While Gunn might be writing and working for “Suicide Squad” exclusively at the moment, he may be working with other DC films, depending on how successful he is.

James Gunn will screen write DC's rendition of the "Suicide Squad" films. (Image via LongRoom.com)
James Gunn will screen write DC’s rendition of the “Suicide Squad” films. (Image via LongRoom.com)

Due to the low performance of DC films and the success of the Marvel films, there is a distinct line between the two fandoms and how they perceive the motion pictures within the two superhero universes. In DC’s case, recent films like “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Suicide Squad” and “Justice League” received poor scores on Rotten Tomatoes, as they all fell between 27 and 40 percent. This is a stark difference when compared to recent Marvel films, as “Captain America: Civil War,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Avengers: Infinity War” received high scores from anywhere between 83 and 91 percent. Marvel is obviously doing something very right, or DC films simply can’t deliver.

Could James Gunn be one of Marvel’s “right things”?

In the Marvel cinematic universe, Gunn has helmed two film franchises, the first being “The Guardians of the Galaxy” universe, whose films performed very well. Because of the success of his films, fans believe Gunn can change the game for DC films, starting with “Suicide Squad” franchise. One can assume that’s the case, as James Gunn is reported to take a new, fresher spin on the “Suicide Squad” story. While he’s not confirmed to direct the sequel and is only expected to write the screenplay, there is a greater chance he will be directing the film, if no further hiring is done.

However, some mistakes are sometimes too great to fix, so much so that even a new and capable director can’t change them.

Several prevalent issues with the first “Suicide Squad” film include the poorly developed story line, shallow characters and a few plot holes could have been thwarted if not for the editing style of the film. Actions drive the plot of action movies forward, and Marvel films have provided a whole lot of action for viewers. However, in DC’s “Suicide Squad,” there was little action and copious dialogue. When you watch a film about superheroes and super-villains, the last thing you expect is a whole lot of backstory and little to no “showing.” Outside of “Suicide Squad,” other DC films fall short in terms on plot and storytelling. The presentation of a film is everything when it comes to adaptations, especially when the franchise has a big global standing.

The DC cinematic universe has a bad representation, as it incites wars between Marvel fans and DC fans, causing both groups to continuously debate which franchise is better than the other. However, Gunn’s firing has caused many fans to cancel their subscription to Disney and have encouraged the company to rehire Gunn. Even Dave Bautista, who threatened to leave the Marvel universe in light of losing his friend, has spilled spoilers from the “Avengers 4” film. Many fans argue that losing Gunn is a big mistake on Disney’s part because Gunn was one of the greatest assets for Marvel and its films, and believe he’s generated more than $1 billion in the box office and sales.

Gunn might do wonders for DC based on that argument alone. Warner Bros. realized that when Disney fired Gunn, Marvel was thriving at the box office, capturing a lot of fans’ love and appreciation. Although DC excelled with “Wonder Woman” in 2017, they have failed with countless other motion pictures. With someone like Gunn, who was successful in his “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, Warner Bros. likely saw their opportunity and snatched him when they had the chance, in hopes of improving  DC in spite of Gunn’s Twitter controversy.

Putting ethics aside, skills are skills, and controversy doesn’t take away from their value. Under Gunn’s lead, Marvel should fear DC, as his directing abilities have had a lasting impact on the superhero universe.

In an age where there are always fan wars and franchise disputes, Warner Bros. might have garnered a win with Gunn alone. However, despite what other fans think is a loss for Disney, there are many talented filmmakers with a new style who would surely do a great job, too. Gunn is not the only filmmaker driving the DC franchise forward. There are writers, editors and producers who are fully capable of making a great film.

Only time will tell whether Disney made a mistake and Warner Bros. made the right decision. The “Suicide Squad” sequel is expected to release in 2019, so keep your eyes peeled for James Gunn’s DC debut.

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