Before Guardians, James Gunn made some weird superhero movies | Jobi Cool

Fun fact: James Gunn is actually in this picture - he's the little man on Thomas Hayden Church's shoulders.  Left: Special (Screenshot: YouTube), Right: Super (Screenshot: YouTube)

Fun fact: James Gunn is actually in this picture – he’s the little man on Thomas Hayden Church’s shoulders. Left: special (Screenshot: YouTube), right: Super (Screenshot: YouTube)

It’s fair to say that this past week has been the biggest of James Gunn’s career: eight years after making an international name for himself with Marvel. Guardians of the Galaxy– and four from Disney He was unceremoniously fired From the franchise, before sheepishly bringing him back, it became clear at one point that all the beloved aspects of those (very successful) films were a direct product of Gunn’s taste, passion and instincts – the iconic competition at DC Films. Made big headlines on Tuesday By declaring Gunn in charge. along with Conjuring With Warner Bros. Discovery aiming to find a producer adept at making popular superhero movies, the franchise’s Peter Safran, Gunn, is handed the keys to a shattered, damaged, but unsalvageable kingdom. Superhero Billions – As Marvel’s Kevin Feige.

What’s interesting about Gunn’s filmography is that he’s never really made what could be called a “straight” superhero film. The Parents The films come closest, with their classic tales of cosmic underdogs being half-baked. and Suicide Squad Finally a bit of heroism goes around – after an entire movie’s worth of uber-violent fucking. But those brief flirtations with the classic hero are as close as he gets, and that’s all First We consider the multiple non-franchise superhero movies Gunn has made over the years, all of which are wildly subversive, to the point that you’d be forgiven for thinking them too hard. anti– Super hero.

Which, hey: let’s talk about those movies, huh?

To be clear, the films in the table here are from the 2000s specialJune Gunn wrote and co-starred in 2010 Superwhich he wrote and directed, and of 2019 Brightburn, which he produced, and which his brother Brian and cousin Mark wrote. (We’ll skip the 2000s Citizen Taxi: The Toxic Avenger, which came at the tail end of Gunn’s extended apprenticeship with Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma Entertainment; Although Gunn appears in the film, he has not said anything about working behind the scenes in it.)

special (2000)

Specials – 20th Anniversary Blu-ray – Coming July 14, 2020 – Red Band Blu-Ray Release Trailer

Of the three films here special is probably the least insane – which is saying something, for a movie that’s the most wholesome Moments reveal that one of the characters’ superpowers is keeping eggs regularly. Centered on a team of dysfunctional superheroes and directed by Craig “Chernobyl” Mazin (before he was Craig “writer Scary Movie 3“Mazin) – wild talk about special, in 2022, it’s parodying a movement that hasn’t really happened yet. After a few months of Bryan Singer, a very silent release has arrived The X-Men Also introducing the idea of ​​a superhero team movie to the American moviegoing public, the film was a product of comic book fans, for comic book fans, igniting ideas about fame and ego that would not be broadcast. mainstream film or TV audiences for literally decades. (Ironically, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s “Superheroes as Reality TV Stars” comic series X-Staticsnearest equivalent special (In regular comics publishing, the movie doesn’t arrive until a year after it’s in, and then very quickly, out of theaters.)

Even though Gunn isn’t directing here, many of his traits already exist — would it surprise you to know that there is? A choreographed dance number set to a super-catchy ’70s pop hit?. It includes only Sufficient sentimentality to spend time with a team of professional failures and crime-fighting donkeys more fun than scary. (Plus, you’ll be deadpanning your way through scenes from both Paget Brewster and Judy Greer, which is pretty hard to beat.) special Comedy is first, and the superhero movie is a distant second, but it suggests that, even at this early point in his career, Gunn was more interested in heroes as damaged freaks looking for connection than in gods floating above the rest of us.

Brightburn (2019)

BRIGHTBURN – Official Trailer (HD)

Now moving forward, let’s face 2019 Brightburn, the movie seems to have the least direct involvement of the three of us. That being said, it’s hard to imagine Universal giving this film — which reimagines Superman’s origin story as a horror movie about a teenage ex-demigod unleashing his teenage rage on the entire planet — the green light without Gunn’s money-making name. label. This probably helped all involved get the gun’s old Slitter Friends Elizabeth Banks and Michael Rooker star and co-star, respectively. (Rooker, fulfilling his duties as Gunn’s evergreen muse, has the wildest role in the film, appearing at the end as a conspiracy theorist who sketches out an entire cinematic universe of twisted versions of the Justice League that will likely never be made.)

“What if Superman was evil?” It’s an idea that comics have been playing with for almost a century at this point, going back to the old “fantasy” stories of DC Comics and beyond. (Mark Waid and Boom! Studios made a very profitable sideline with the concept in 2009 with their book. irreplaceableand its various comic spin-offs, just to name one.) Brightburn– which stars Jackson A. Dunne as our resident We need to talk about Kal-El—then, it’s very interesting in the ways it works as a genre exercise, translating basic superhero tropes through the lens of a horror movie villain. With his focus on comedy, Gunn himself was a big part of developing the idea that superhero movies could exist outside the confines of a straight adventure story, which has only become more prominent as both Marvel and DC push themselves to tell more diverse stories. Within these many fascinating universes. Sam Raimi just managed to import a little real horror into the MCU Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; There is at least an outside possibility that Gunn could do something similar for DC.

Super (2010)

Super Official Trailer #1 – (2010) HD

And that brings us finally to 2010 Super, the saddest, and weirdest, of Gunn’s outlandish superhero movies — and the only one he directed and wrote. Starring Rainn Wilson (recommended to the director, reportedly, by Wilson’s TV castmate, and Gunn’s ex-wife, Jenna Fisher), Super Not so much a vigilante film as a superhero film in which the villainous mask of the hero is stuck.

The film centers on Wilson as Frank, a short-order cook who, unable to accept his wife (Liv Tyler) leaving him for a charming, malicious drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), eventually manifests in a “vision” of a Bible-themed superhero. Persuades Frank to go out into the world as a hero himself—that is, wearing a cape and mask and whacking people over the head with a large pipe wrench as punishment for breaking various societal rules. Among hospitalized pedophiles, drug dealers, and people who cut lines at the movies, Frank picks up an unwanted sidekick in the form of a local comic shop clerk (Elliot Page) who styles himself as “Bolty” to his Crimson Bolt.

Like Matthew Vaughan kick-ass (which followed in theaters a few months later), Super It’s a stab at depicting what happens when an ordinary person tries to be a superhero – and potentially covers up such an act. But while Vaughn’s film is ultimately seduced by the coolness factor of a gun-toting Chloe Grace Moretz, Gunn never loses sight of the fact that we’re essentially watching a violent nervous breakdown connected to the cape. Frank does some good in his time as Crimson Bolt, but he also makes some terrible mistakes, and overall the film is very realistic about what might happen if, say, two very angry, but basically normal, people try to strike out. A well-armed criminal’s compound.

A surface read Super— a surface reading of most of Gunn’s cape films, in fact, whether franchise-based or not — suggests a certain dislike of the superhero as a concept. Again and again, Gunn’s films subvert, attack and subvert the fundamental goodness of the entire concept of the hero. Scratch off the shiny jet-boots of a gun comic book hero, and you’re more than likely to reveal several feet of mud.

The peacemaker “Reflected in the Rick Flag” clip | HBO Max

But the truth is none of these movies or HBO Max the peacemaker, where the TV format allowed Gunn to delve deeper into these themes — are empty exercises in cynicism. It’s true that Gunn isn’t particularly interested in superheroes As a superhero, for all that he returns them again and again. But he has an abiding interest in hidden people below Masks, the ways they are damaged, the ways they are beautiful. It’s the heartthrob of Marvel’s ninth-most popular super team in 2014 that suddenly resonated with millions of people, and it shines through in all of Gunn’s oddball superhero projects.

Taking on the DC films with Safran, Gunn inherits a superhero universe that has struggled with its human side many times. Say what you like about Zack Snyder’s legendary approach to the supernatural, but it leaves precious little room for comedy, or even tragedy that doesn’t work with a capital T. Where recent DC films are under the now-removed, and functionally placeholder, regime. Former studio head Walter Hamada has succeeded, importing some real human emotion into the mix. And that’s where Gunn, with his decades-long obsession with the weird under the mask, is likely to excel.

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