On Sunday, September 29, James Gunn started filming The Suicide Squad, the new ensemble comic book movie he’s shooting for Warner Bros. Home of rival comic universe DC, one might expect Marvel Studios to feel a little jealousy that Gunn will lend his creative eye to the other team. However, that’s not what happened at all. The studio that helped give James Gunn his clout in Hollywood sent him a gift that the director said made him cry. Of course, that isn’t the whole story. The reason James Gunn starts filming The Suicide Squad at all is because Marvel’s parent company, Disney, fired him. In this context, the gift actually seems all the sweeter.
Why James Gunn Is Filming The Suicide Squad Instead of Guardians of the Galaxy 3
In July of 2018, a group of people online rediscovered old tweets from James Gunn back when he considered himself a “provocateur.” The jokes were intentionally offensive, the humor seemingly derived from the “shock jock” nature of what he wrote. As a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, a group of his supporters online pressured Disney to fire him. This was seen as a retaliatory move after Disney fired Roseanne Barr for reverting to the stereotype of comparing people of color with apes. It’s all ugly stuff. Still, they fired Roseanne, so Disney seemed pressured to fire James Gunn for his Twitter statements. After some time, Warner Bros. scooped up the mastermind behind Guardians of the Galaxy to helm the next Suicide Squad film. Recently, the director told the Associated Press the firing made him “a better person.”
The last film, titled Suicide Squad, made money and won an Oscar. However, the critical reception from professionals and fans left a lot to be desired. Gunn took a lesser known comic property and made it one of the standout sub-franchises of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Warner Bros. wanted him to do that for them. When James Gunn released the cast list for The Suicide Squad, only Viola Davis, Joel Kinnamen, Jai Courtney, and Margot Robbie remained from the previous ensemble. Expectations for this movie are high. Still, Gunn’s good for work even if it flops. Disney rehired Gunn some time later, allowing him to direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3, from a script he wrote. Thus, he’s become one of the about two dozen folks who’ve been able to play in both the DC and Marvel universe on screen.
The Gift Marvel Gave James Gunn
Images via Twitter
There are storied rivalries: Yankees versus the Red Sox, the Penguins versus the Flyers, and Marvel versus DC. Many a geeky kid spent hours arguing with frienemies about whether or not the Hulk could defeat Superman (probably) or whether Daredevil could defeat Batman (probably not). Yet, at the start of filming for The Suicide Squad, Marvel Studios sent James Gunn a touching reminder of his time with them.
They sent him a scrapbook of his time working on both the Guardians of the Galaxy films, and Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. (Gunn consulted on the latter two for the Guardians’ scenes, including writing the bit about Drax thinking he can be invisible.)
Images via Twitter
In tweets, some embedded below, Gunn writes about what this gift meant to him.
“I received perhaps the coolest & sweetest start-of-production gift ever, along with a note of how excited they are for the movie from Kevin, Lou, Victoria, Mary & Jonathan at (Marvel Studios). They made me this incredible scrapbook of our journey so far on (Guardians of the Galaxy). It’s a thick tome packed with memories that brought a tear to my eye.
“As I’ve said so many times, at the end of the day, Marvel & DC fans have a lot more in common than they do not. I am now & have been for almost all my life, both. Maybe you like one more than the other – that’s cool – but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them all or that you have to tear the other down. I know I & my partners at both Marvel & DC believe what’s good for one studio is generally good for all: spurring each other on daily with heartfelt, spectacular & innovative entertainment that keeps audiences around the world loving movies based on or inspired by sequential art.”
Now, to be fair, this is also a not-so-subtle reminder from Marvel Studios to Gunn to not get too comfy making movies for the competition. Disney was the one to fire him, not Marvel Studios themselves. So, they may be willing to forgive the line-crossing this once. But it’s definitely a power move to send that guy you were in a relationship with heartwarming photos of your time together just as he’s about to step out with someone new.
They made me this incredible scrapbook of our journey so far on #GuardiansoftheGalaxy. It’s a thick tome packed with memories that brought a tear to my eye.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) September 29, 2019
What’s Next for James Gunn After He’s Done Filming The Suicide Squad?
James Gunn started filming The Suicide Squad in Atlanta, but it doesn’t hit theaters until August 6, 2021. So, fans will have to wait to see what he does with this franchise. Meanwhile, once he wraps this film, he likely has to move quickly to start on Guardians of the Galaxy 3. There were three years between films last time. The first one hit theaters in 2014 and the second came in 2017. Given how crowded the MCU Phase 4 slate is his next Marvel movie may not come until 2022 or later. Yet, Marvel likely doesn’t want to let one of their sure-fire franchises sit idle for too long. Since the script is already complete, James Gunn may go straight from filming The Suicide Squad to the set of Guardians 3.
Which film are you more excited for? Do you think of yourself as a bigger fan of DC or Marvel? We want to hear which ones you love best in the comments below or on social media.
Featured image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.