We all know of James Gunn’s ignominious fall from grace. He went from shock-jock provocateur in his Troma days, which curiously led to him scripting the live-action Scooby Doo, followed by the Dawn of the Dead remake; he directed his own horror genre mash-up in Slither, proceeded to indict vigilantes and superheroes with his twisted indie Super, and then was handed the reins of an obscure Marvel franchise to call his own. Gunn’s career read like the unlikeliest of success stories.
Studio gigs are a dream come true for upcoming filmmakers because there’s an assurance to the work that doesn’t exist in independent filmmaking. If a director can meet all of the studio’s requirements for bringing in bankable stars, appealing to a PG-13 audience, merchandising and marketing, etc., then the studio will bankroll your “vision” and stand by you in both success and failure, supposedly. It’s the very assurance that Steven Spielberg had when Universal Studios secured him as a young talent through a multi-picture contract.
It seemed like Disney had Gunn’s back when Guardians 3 was announced months before Vol. 2 came out. And then they dumped him. I mention this because it’s the first time since entering the studio system that Gunn might have felt expendable—and perhaps why he was drawn to this expendable group of heroes.