james gunn quickly became one of Hollywood’s most recognizable names. Wearing many hats as a director, writer, and producer, Gunn has significantly helped shape the cinematic works of iconic Marvel and DC companies. With the recent announcement that Gunn has been named co-CEO of DCUshe will be a key driver in shaping the brand’s identity on screen.
Gunn cut his teeth working as a screenwriter for Troma Entertainment, an independent film company known for its low-budget horror comedies. He continued as a writer from there, creating hits like scooby-dooand the dawn of the dead remake. He made his directorial debut in 2006 with SlideGunn hasn’t slowed down as he continues to helm big Hollywood releases while working as a screenwriter for other projects.
11/11 “The Specials” (2000)
Ironically, Gunn worked on this superhero parody long before he came to direct the same blockbusters he made fun of. The Specials follows a team of superheroes described as the seventh best in the world. Forgoing action to follow the boring daily life of the heroes, the film is a comedy rather than an action film.
As Gunn’s second writing credit, his flair for outlandish humor is noticeable from this first entry into his filmography. Whereas The Specials never burst onto the mainstream market, it’s an often fun takedown of superheroes featuring familiar faces such as Thomas Haden Church, Rob Loweand Judy Greer.
10/11 ‘Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed’ (2004)
Although not as beloved as the first film, Scooby-Doo 2: Unleashed Monsters is still a worthy sequel to the Mystery Machine crew’s first live-action adventure. Invited to a museum opening showcasing their past business, the Scooby gang are back in action when a masked figure robs the displays.
The cast from the original film all return to reprise their roles, and each is cast perfectly as they bring the iconic characters to life. A third film was planned, with Gunn set to make his directorial debut after writing the scripts for the first two films, but it was canceled after the financial disappointment of the second part.
Scooby-Doo 2: Unleashed Monsters is available to stream on Netflix and HBO Max.
September 11th ‘Tromeo and Juliet’ (1997)
Gunn’s debut feature credit is a black comedy about Romeo and Juliet. Tromeo and Juliet loosely tells the story of classic Shakespearean characters while adding plenty of Troma Entertainment’s signature sex and violence. Juliette even turns into a monster cow at one point.
While Gunn is now away from working on the deliciously depraved production of Troma, his satirical blood still runs through his veins as all of his works feature the same dark humor and over-the-top violence.
Tromeo and Juliet is available to stream on Peacock and Tubi.
8/11 ‘Scooby-Doo’ (2002)
Considered by many to be the definitive adaptation of the legendary cartoon, scooby-doo sees the gang reunite for the first time in two years after a bad breakup. Invited to Spooky Island, the young detectives soon discover that something is wrong with the resort’s getaway as the guests begin to exhibit strange behavior.
scooby-doo was Gunn’s first mainstream project, and he originally envisioned a darker take on the characters through his script. Many of its more adult jokes were removed once filming began, and storylines that commented on Velma and Fred’s sexuality were also dropped in favor of what was considered a more “family” tone.
scooby-doo is available to stream on Netflix and HBO Max.
7/11 “The Belko Experience” (2016)
What’s worse than a long day at the office? A long day at the office where everyone is trying to kill you. This is the scenario The Belko experience locations, where the eighty employees of a large office building are forced to fight to the death until one is left alive.
Gunn teamed up with wolf creek director Greg McLean for that battle royale-game of death inspired. Although he doesn’t bend over the desk as much as he could (stapler death, anyone), The Belko experience is still an entertaining watch and is sure to please anyone looking for a tight action thriller.
The Belko experience is available to stream on Tubi.
6/11 ‘Slip’ (2006)
For his directorial debut, Gunn set out to tackle intergalactic parasitic slugs, and the result is one of the best comedy horrors of the 2000s. When one of these alien invaders crashes into the wood of an American city, the local man Grant (Michael Rooker) becomes infected and begins to spread the worms to the rest of the population.
Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks star as a hero, and their chemistry and willingness to adhere to Gunn’s storyline helps elevate the film. Slide flopped at the box office, but it remains an underrated part of Gunn’s filmography and an undeniable cult classic.
5/11 ‘Great’ (2010)
Gunn’s second stab at the superhero genre before joining the mcu, Great stars Rainn Wilson as Frank, a docile cook who decides to become a superhero after his wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler), leaves him for a local drug dealer, Jacques (Kevin Bacon).
Adopting the nickname Crimson Bolt, Frank fights crime alongside his overly enthusiastic sidekick, Libby (Elliot Page). A realistic vision of vigilantism, Great doesn’t shy away from showing off the dangerous nature of taking justice into his own hands while proudly displaying Gunn’s talent for R-rated violence.
4/11 ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ (2017)
If the first film was an introduction to unknown comic book characters for moviegoers, then Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an examination of the shared family dynamics within the crew of the Milano. Pierre Quill (Chris Pratt) receives primary attention when it encounters Ego (Kurt Russell), who claims to be her father.
Volume 2 isn’t as strong as its predecessor, but it’s still a great entry into Marvel’s Phase Three. Gunn delivers some genuinely moving moments between characters, and the stellar cast delivers. Flight. 3 is slated for next year, and fans are clamoring to see how Gunn wraps up the saga of Marvel’s most beloved space team.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is available to stream on Disney+.
3/11 “The Suicide Squad” (2021)
After Gunn was fired by Marvel, DC quickly stepped in and signed him up. Given his choice of property to adapt, Gunn chose the Suicide Squad, and his take on villains-gone-good resulted in one of the DCU’s best films.
The Suicide Squad spotlights a cast of underrated DC characters while allowing Margot Robbie another swing at Harley Quinn. The property was the perfect fit for Gunn, and without the restrictions of Marvel’s family tenure, it delivered a powerful superhero story full of glorious violence and foul language.
The Suicide Squad is available to stream on HBO Max.
2/11 “Dawn of the Dead” (2004)
Zack Snyder has always been a divisive director, but his take on George A. Romeroit’s classic dawn of the dead remains one of the best horror remakes of all time. Taking the concept of the original and expanding the cast, scope and action, Dawn is a thrill ride and deserves to be called one of the best zombie movies of all time.
Gunn provided the film’s script and steered it into more action-oriented territory than the original’s slower pace. While the film focuses more on gunfights with the undead rather than developing its characters, the large cast still focuses on enough to create a sense of sadness as they each fall victim to the ravenous horde.
dawn of the dead is available to stream on Hulu.
1/11 “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)
Gunn’s best movie and one of the best entries in the entire MCU. guardians of the galaxy is everything a great Marvel movie should be: action-packed, funny, moving, and a gateway for audiences to experience some of the best comic book characters in history.
Guardians is the origin story of the ragtag group of space mercenaries, showing how the small crew of criminals first met and why they stick together. While the characters all stay distant from each other, it ultimately results in one of the best superhero teams in the MCU.
guardians of the galaxy is available to stream on Disney+.
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