Once ostracized and unemployed, award-winning writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2 James Gunn was on Indeed and LinkedIn a few weeks back. His resume was updated. His contacts were looking for gigs. You know, at Home Depot, IHOP, and maybe the local grocery store.
Then, his phone rang.
It was Warner Brothers and DC Comics who just happened to be looking for a director for its financially successful but beleaguered critically franchise, Suicide Squad. He’s a man of mystery. A man of intrigue. And a man of sequels.
Gunn was slated to write and direct GOTG 3, and then all those tweets came up into question, so Gunn lost his gig for Disney’s substantiated fear of a PR slam. And faster than Will Smith’s character can pull a trigger, Gunn (what a pun there) has a shot (oh look, another) at both a career comeback and making a serious difference for DC.
Despite all of DC and WB’s foibles with marketing and force-feeding us a new franchise, would it surprise you that Suicide Squad was the number 22 most-profitable CBM of all time ($746 million)? It also had the number 11 highest-grossing opening weekend at $267 million for any comic book movie.
Financially, this movie was a success on every level. Critically, this was a fart-and-fall-down moment because it goes back to the one thing Warner Brothers have proved they can’t do — introduce anyone properly outside of the DC “trinity” of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
So, you see, sequel or reboot — it doesn’t matter until that doltish duo figures out how to tell a story.
The average cinephile or comic book nerd could introduce those three. Sure, it would not have quite the flair Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder, and Patty Jenkins showcased in their movies, but c’mon… it’s them.
But even the executives at Warner Bros. understand the potential Suicide Squad has to provide moviegoers ample reasons to come back to the theater over-and-over again. Look at the characters. Look at those back stories. There’s no reason why that movie didn’t do better than it did. The movie made its money, but then soon became forgettable, which is a solid trend in DC / WB movies they hope to break with Aquaman.
QUICK MEMO: They will.
Gunn is acclaimed for his directing chops. What he was able to do with the ensemble cast of Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing short of magical. Every star got a piece of that red-hot spotlight. The story was complete from every vantage point. This is stuff only the greats–Spielberg, Scorsese, Kubrick, Coppola, Tarantino–are able to do.
And why is Gunn able to do it? He writes what he directs.
The Wrap was first to share that Gunn will do both for Suicide Squad 2. And it makes sense. Gunn understands the nuances of what he wrote. He knows the hidden gems (and easter eggs) of the story as it unfolds. Who better to direct the people who are telling that story?!
That leads us to the money quote from io9:
Gunn is reportedly taking a totally new approach to the property so this isn’t exactly a sequel to David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.
Does a new take scream sequel with new characters? Should we infer that demands reboot? It’s all subjective but back to the point, DC and WB have not been able to tell stories of anyone outside of their Big 3.
James Gunn, awful, tone-deaf proclivities aside, can tell a story. He got us all interested and engaged with what seemed to be a throwaway comic book. And now, GOTG and GOTG2 is the No. 16 and 11 most profitable comic book movies of all time at $333M and $389M respectively.
Of course, Suicide Squad (which could be considered the GOTG’s counterpart) is No. 18 at $325M but no one talks about that success. People just lump that movie on the stinking heap of CBM failures with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Catwoman, Elektra, and Hulk. It’s not fair to David Ayer’s work, but what is fair is that DC and WB needs to learn stand on its own without a cape and cowl, magic lasso, or kryptonite.
So…make better hires. Do like all great CEOs — surround yourself with people smarter than you. That started with the guy in charge of Atlantis. James Wan may push open that door of opportunity. If so, James Gunn has no excuse but to run straight through that thing and show us what Marvel and Disney secretly hated firing him in the first place.
The Squad has countless stories to tell — nothing but the government sending out this team of anti-heroic misfits on suicide missions. It’s like Law & Order with powers.
With Gunn at the helm, there’s no way this can be screwed up and we may get forgotten stories for supreme characters like Count Vertigo, Nightshade, Ravan, Poison Ivy, and the entire story arc behind Rick Flag.
And then, we begin to imagine and learn what could Gunn possibly do with Deadshot, Harley, and that green-haired dude with Mr. T jewelry?
Fitting for those two companies, isnt it? Just like the original, James Gunn could be for DC and WB the: worst. hero. ever.