James Francis Gunn Jr. (born August 5, 1966) is an American film writer and director.
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 before breaking into the mainstream with the release of the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014.
Gunn's films are known for politically incorrect humour, bleakly comedic tones, and underlying themes of hope and optimism.
His works include:
- Tromeo and Juliet (1996, writer)
- The Specials (2000, actor and writer)
- Scooby-Doo (2002, writer)
- Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004, writer)
- Dawn of the Dead (2004, writer)
- Slither (2006, writer and director)
- James Gunn's PG Porn (20082009, creator, writer, producer, director)
- Super (2010, writer and director)
- Lollipop Chainsaw (2011, writer)
- Movie 43 (2013, co-director and co-writer, Beezel segment)
- The Belko Experiment (2017, writer and producer)
- BrightBurn (2019, producer)
- Marvel Cinematic Universe
- The Suicide Squad (2021, writer and director)
Tropes associated with James Gunn's work include:
- Anti-Hero: Name a protagonist of his who isnt.
- Bathos: Its rare for a serious moment in his movies not to be followed by a joke and vice versa.
- Black and Gray Morality: Gray is the whitest his characters morality is going to get.
- Black Comedy: His stock in trade.
- Chekhov's Gun: Hes exceptionally good at setting up character moments thatll be paid off later on.
- Chekhov's Gag: Same goes with the jokes.
- 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 Cameo: Gunn plays a minor character in almost every movie he directs.note
- Gorn: Slither and Super have this in spades, with the former going into Body Horror and the latter veering into Bloody Hilarious.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Guardians, Lollipop Chainsaw, and especially Super have these in spades.
- Old Shame: His past off-color and offensive material. Hes mentioned hes ashamed of them and isnt capable of those remarks these days. Those eventually got him in trouble with Disney chairman Alan Horn and it got him kicked off of GoTG3 for an extended period of time before Disney decided to put him back on board.
- In a sense, he admitted and apologized to Scrappy Doo fans for making him the villain in Scooby-Doo, not knowing there is in fact a fandom for the character and not just the trope associated with him.
- Playing Against Type: 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!
- 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 its way of adapting comics.
- Production Posse: Each movie he directs has Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, and Gregg Henry in its cast, and Tyler Bates composing the score. Sean Gunn also joined this posse during Super.note
- Refuge in Audacity: A frequent offender.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Tend to sit somewhere in the middle. As darkly comic and cynical as his films can get, they usually lean towards optimistic themes and how to remain hopeful in the face of darkness.