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Creator / James Gunn

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He's the one on the right.
"I have to say, I feel a weird sort of calling in filmmaking that I didn't feel with other things. I feel like there are things in life you want to do, and then things you are called to do, and hopefully you can allow yourself to want to do whatever you're called to do."

James Francis Gunn Jr. (born August 5, 1966 in St. Louis, Missouri) is an American screenwriter, film director, and producer. Gunn's films are known for dark humor, obscure characters and references, bleakly comedic tones, and underlying themes of hope and optimism.

After getting his start with Troma Entertainment as a writer in The '90s he later went on to work as a director on a couple of cult films. He also did took a crack at working with more mainstream movies from major franchises in the form of writing the two live-action Scooby-Doo movies and the remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Gunn's breakout success arrived with the release of the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Guardians of the Galaxy, which he wrote and directed in 2014. In spite of relatively low expectations for the then-unknown superhero team, Guardians ended up being a massive hit, with his takes on the characters leaving an impression with audiences. Gunn was quickly rehired to write and direct the sequel, Vol. 2, and a third film, Vol.3. He also did some of the writing on the third and fourth Avengers movies, which prominently feature the Guardians as part of the ensemble.

Gunn was temporarily ousted from directing the third Guardians of the Galaxy film when several offensive jokes from his Troma days — which he had already apologized for — resurfaced, but he was ultimately rehired by Disney for handling the situation professionally, aided by a large chorus of support from the fans and from Marvel's stable of talent. Between being fired and rehired, DC Films got his attention and quickly signed him on to work on a follow-up to Suicide Squad — which he titled The Suicide Squad — alongside a spin-off series, Peacemaker, for HBO Max. Meanwhile, Marvel signed Gunn on not just for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for 2023, but for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in time for Holiday 2022. Suffice it to say, Gunn made lemonade out of lemons.

While Gunn is still involved in discussions regarding the expansion of the cosmic side of the MCU, he has stated that he sees Vol. 3 as his final MCU movie for now. In addition to a second show featuring another The Suicide Squad character, he is also set to co-write and co-produce the live-action/animated Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner film Coyote vs ACME. In late 2022, he was made one of two CEOs/co-chairs of DC Studios under Warner Bros. Discovery alongside Peter Safran. He is now set to oversee a Continuity Reboot of cinematic adaptations of DC Comics properties after the DC Extended Universe and has made some major changes to that effect. He is set to write and direct Superman Legacy, the first film in the "DC Universe".

He is not related to science fiction Grandmaster James E. Gunn, nor are they to be confused with one another. He was married to actress Jenna Fischer from 2000 to 2008, and he's married to actress Jennifer Holland since 2022.

His works include:

Tropes associated with James Gunn's works include:

  • Abusive Parents: His scripts usually have an abusive father such as Thanos, Ego and White Dragon. However, Scooby Doo features an interesting inversion: Scrappy is the abusive nephew of Scooby-Doo.
  • AM/FM Characterization: A favored tactic of his. Especially evident in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Peacemaker.
  • Anti-Hero: Name a protagonist of his who isn’t.
  • Apocalypse How: Many of his projects include huge body count, whether it is an Alien Invasion, Advancing Wallof Doom or Attackofthe 50 Foot Whatever, expect a lot of not just human beings to die on-screen, sometimes in very gruesome ways.
  • Approval of God: Along with critical and fan acclaim, his superhero work has also been highly praised by the creators or creative teams that have worked on the source materials. Many comic creators even lent their support upon news of him co-running DC Studios. Gunn has even claimed that Zack Snyder himself was happy for him.
  • Bathos: It’s rare for a serious moment in his movies not to be followed by a joke and vice versa.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Usually the heroes in his story are have really big personality flaws but they are saints compared to enemies that they face.
  • Black Comedy: His stock in trade.
  • Body Horror: Scooby-Doo, Slither, The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker involve creatures who possess peoples' bodies. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 shows animals being horribly experimented on via cybernetics and genetic engineering.
  • Canon Foreigner: He created some original characters in his scripts based on pre-existing media such as Ratcatcher 2, the Cotton Candy Glob and the Luna Ghost.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Luna Ghost from Scooby-Doo appeared in the first episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
  • Chekhov's Gag: He’s exceptionally good at setting up character moments and gags that’ll be paid off later on.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Downplayed. His works are very offbeat, and sometimes downright bizarre. If you see a scene that makes you cringe or scratch your head and go, "Huh?" you can be guaranteed that it's him doing his own thing.
  • Creator Backlash: His past off-color and offensive material on Twitter and other blog sites preceding its existence (of particular note are controversial jokes concerning child sexual abuse, which stemmed from his own traumatic experiences growing up that influenced his sense of humor at the time and his type of storytelling as a filmmaker). He's mentioned that he's ashamed of them and isn't capable of those remarks these days. Those eventually got him in trouble with Disney chairman Alan Horn and it got him kicked off of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for some time before Disney decided to put him back onboard — though ironically enough, Horn would later play a role in hiring him to oversee DC Studios.
  • Creator Cameo: Gunn plays a minor character in almost every movie he directs.note 
  • Creator's Pest: invoked Like many people, he dislikes Scrappy-Doo, which is why he was written as the villain for the first Scooby-Doo movie.
  • Demographically Inappropriate Humor: His Scooby-Doo scripts, particularly the first one are filled with adult jokes.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed and Dawn of the Dead feature zombies.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Upon being promoted to co-head DC Studios, he made it clear that he and Kevin Feige are still friends despite working for Marvel Studios' Distinguished Competition. In fact, Feige was the first person he claimed he called to break the news, and Feige gave his full support.
  • Funny Animal: Scooby-Doo, Rocket and King Shark. Gunn considered them as the heart of his scripts.
  • God Never Said That: invokedFollowing his promotion to co-head of DC Studios, Gunn had taken great lengths to dispel any rumors, professional or otherwise, on his social media about his films. This ends up continuing his feud with Sitcom Archnemesis Grace Randolph.
  • Gorn: Slither, Super, The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker have this in spades, with the former going into Body Horror and the latter two often veering into Bloody Hilarious.
  • Hate Sink: A lot of his villains are utterly loathsome and despicable people who you really want to see get their comeuppance. Notable examples include Ego, the Thinker, Major General Mateo Suarez, Jacques, Augie Smith, and the High Evolutionary.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Guardians, Lollipop Chainsaw, The Suicide Squad, and especially Super have these in spades.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Many of his characters are this, being very rude but deep down good people.
  • Line to God: He's pretty active on Twitter, especially after his return to public view following the fallout of his old tweets coming to light. There, he's nice enough to often answer fan questions or even dispel/confirm rumors directly, sometimes to the point of directly confronting Trolls and putting them in their place.
  • The Movie Buff: Gunn is a big film fan and sneaks in references of lesser known films.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Most of the female characters he had written usually wear skimpy clothing. Scooby-Doo and Guardians stand out.
  • One of Us: Gunn is a fan of Kamen Rider, which he revealed when the franchise trended on Twitter due to the American debut of Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FOREVER. He's also a fan of Ultraman as well, even doing the pose.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • His Scooby-Doo scripts are more family friendly than his other works.
    • In an episode of James Gunn's PG Porn, he plays himself but as an abusive director.
      James Gunn: CAT! What don't you understand about fucking cat, Edward? C-A-T. It's the first word you learn in a fucking book! FUCK ME! God-damn it! And if this guy over here, goatee boy, if you don't quit shifting around, I swear to God, I'm gonna smash your fucking lights! You hear me!?
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: So far a dependable trope for all his work based on previously existing material. While he is no doubt a fan of multiple properties he has worked on, he pretty much re-arranges the parts given to him with little worry about playing certain things straight. This is most likely due to his coming from Troma and ironically one of the reasons for his mainstream success. As while this practice doesn't always play well in, say, Romero and Scooby circles, it made him a perfect fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe and their ways of adapting comics.
  • Production Posse: Many movies he directed or produced have Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, Jennifer Holland, Steve Agee, Gregg Henry, and Mikaela Hoover in their cast, and Tyler Bates composing the score. His brother Sean Gunn also joined this posse during Super. Sadly, Nathan Fillion's appearance for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which consisted only of posters with his picture on them, got cut from the final film. Bates was set to return as composer for The Suicide Squad, even writing material for Gunn to use on set, but left the project and was replaced by John Murphy.
  • Promoted Fanboy:
    • invoked James Gunn is a big fan of the Scooby-Doo cartoons and was beyond happy to write the two films.
    • James is a fan of the original Dawn of the Dead film and was pumped that he got to write the remake.
    • His Twitter makes it known that he's quite a fan of comic books, even before joining the MCU. He also basically made a point of trying to get Marvel and DC fanboys to get along with his helming The Suicide Squad.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A frequent offender.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: His works can be darkly comedic, off-color, and can touch on some seriously tragic and harsh topics. However, his works contain a lot of heart and usually lean towards optimistic themes. His characters learn how to remain hopeful in the face of darkness.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Even in his most comedic works, his villains tend to be as disgustingly heinous as possible, as Ronan, Ego, and the High Evolutionary can attest to.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • invokedHe was set to direct a sequel to Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed but the plans were cancelled after the film didn't do well at the box office.
    • He had written a script called Rewind but was turned down by Sony in favor of Click, which had a similar premise.
    • He was intended to direct a Superman movie but turned it down in favor of The Suicide Squad. Not that it's stopped him from writing and directing a new movie as the inaugural project for his tenure as co-head of DC Studios.


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James Gunn

James Gunn plays himself but he is portrayed as an abusive director who yells and swears.

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