Controversial writer and director James Gunn is perfectly suited for Suicide Squad 2; in fact, it’s a far better fit for him than Guardians of the Galaxy ever was. Gunn certainly has form transforming a band of misfits into a superhero family/team, and Suicide Squad 2 should give him the ideal opportunity to demonstrate his skills yet again, although the story goes a little deeper than that.
Gunn’s career with Disney came to a shocking end back in July, when some of his old social media posts went viral. Gunn had fancied himself as something of a provocateur prior to working for Disney, and these posts included off-key jokes on everything from rape to pedophilia. Disney responded by swiftly firing him from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Within a month, there were reports that Gunn had been approached by Disney’s rival Warner Bros. potentially with the option of producing a DC superhero movie.
Related: Why Rehiring James Gunn Was Harder For Disney Than Fans Realize
DC Films has expressed interest in Gunn before. Back in 2016, he admitted that he’d “had opportunities to make DC films,” but had turned them down; he reeled off a list of heroes he’d quite enjoy tackling, ranging from Swamp Thing to Jonah Hex, from the Metal Men to Shazam. Now, though, there have been reports that Gunn is on board to write, and possibly even direct, Suicide Squad 2.
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Why James Gunn Is Perfect For Suicide Squad 2
It’s not hard to see what Warner Bros. want James Gunn on board. He’s a writer and director with a proven history of turning even the most unlikely franchises into box office hits. Back when Marvel Studios announced the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, everybody assumed this would be their first misstep; the Guardians had a low profile even among comic book fans, and their members including a walking tree and a talking raccoon. A series of tremendously effective trailers immediately changed that, and the movie grossed $773 million worldwide. Not bad for a bunch of “a**-holes.“
Ironically, David Ayer’s Suicide Squad suffered as a result of Guardians of the Galaxy‘s success. Warner Bros. attempted to make their dark movie fit Gunn’s tone, with the trailers showing a strong Guardians of the Galaxy vibe. Viewers responded well to the trailers, and as a result there are reports Warner Bros. lost faith in Ayer’s approach, attempting to make the franchise as Guardians-like as possible. The result was a strange hybrid of a finished production, critically panned, which nevertheless managed to gross $747 million worldwide off the back of its strong marketing campaign. A sequel was always on the cards, but nobody was quite sure who could make it work. So why not bring in the man who made Guardians of the Galaxy work in the first place?
Suicide Squad 2 Matches James Gunn’s Earlier Movies
It’s important not to assume Suicide Squad 2 would just be a rehash of Guardians of the Galaxy, though. In truth, the comic book franchise is tonally similar to some of Gunn’s earlier works, most notably Super. This was a black comedy-drama centered around the character of Frank Darbo, a cook who took up the identity of the “Crimson Bolt” in order to rescue his wife from a drug dealer. Although critics weren’t impressed by the movie, it built a strong fanbase and put Gunn on Disney’s radar. Super rejoices in its confusing characters, who are filled to the brim with flaws and conflicting character traits – and gore ready to be spilled. Frank, for example, was a religious pacifist who made the world a better place through merciless violence. It was only after he began hearing warped messages “from God” that he began to understand the real world at all.
Related: Disney’s Decision On James Gunn Will Define The MCU
This is just the kind of crazy, conflicted approach that would work so well for Suicide Squad 2. After all, this is a team who are defined by their contradiction. They’re a group of super-villains who are forced to save the world; they deeply resent the fact they’re being forced to work together, and yet somehow consider one another a family. The best Suicide Squad stories are a blend of light and dark, tinged with anger and joy, betrayal and redemption.
And the characters in Suicide Squad are so very three-dimensional. Take Harley Quinn; although it didn’t quite make it through to David Ayer’s film, at heart she’s an abuse victim who’s struggling to find herself, and the relationship between Harley and the Joker is most definitely not intended to be some sort of “relationship goal“. Killer Croc is a brutal murderer who eats his foes, and yet develops such a fondness for his team-mates that he becomes dangerously protective of them. Boomerang wants to live a life of crime, and yet vaguely enjoys the idea he’s achieving something when he saves the world. These “villains” are three-dimensional in a way few superheroes are, with aspects of their own natures in direct conflict, pulling them this way and that. They’re every bit as mercurial and inconsistent as real people. And they’re just the kind of characters James Gunn has a form for developing, back in his pre-Guardians of the Galaxy days.
Page 2 of 2: Why This Is A Better Fit Than Guardians of the Galaxy
James Gunn Made Great Guardians of the Galaxy Movies – But He Changed Them To Do So
The truth is that, although James Gunn made tremendous Guardians of the Galaxy movies, he did so by taking major liberties with the comic canon. Gunn took the most basic concept underlying the franchise, and then made his own version of it. Gunn’s genius was that he saw the potential, he realized why it wouldn’t connect with audiences, and then he made it work. Even the tone and style of the Guardians movies was nothing like the original comics, which had typically gone for cosmic melodrama rather than ’80s nostalgia.
Characters, too, were completely rewritten in order to become the versions Gunn needed. Take Peter Quill as the classic example. Steve Englehart created the character back in 1976, and he described the original Star-Lord as “an unpleasant, introverted jerk.” Englehart planned to develop him into the most cosmic hero ever, but left Marvel before he’d even begun that character arc. As a result, the comic book version remained in that pattern, although he gradually transformed into a leader. James Gunn looked at the comic character, and decided to completely rework him. Star-Lord remained something of a jerk, but he was much more charismatic and extroverted; a revised origin explained that he was a child who’d run away from home after his mother’s death, and had never really grown up as a result. It made Quill a deeply empathetic character, viewed with affection in spite of his many flaws.
Related: Avengers Fans Are Being Too Hard On Star-Lord
Comic book readers traditionally complain when movies diverge from the comic book canon they grew up reading. In the case of Guardians of the Galaxy, though, James Gunn made his changes work so well that precious few objected. Marvel Comics, inspired by the surprise box office success of a previously-third-tier superhero franchise, quickly redesigned their own characters to align with Gunn’s versions. In the case of Peter Quill, they even retconned some of his previous appearances to say they’d taken place in another reality. Gunn won’t need to go the same lengths to make Suicide Squad 2 his own. As we’ve already pointed out, the characters are tailor-made for Gunn’s kind of character-work, and the themes and concepts that run through the comics fit perfectly with the kind of ideas he likes to work with.
Meanwhile, Gunn’s looser approach to canon and continuity will flourish in the DCEU. Although most viewers hadn’t picked up on it, Gunn’s maverick attitude towards continuity was never perfectly suited to the tighter, more intensely-scrutinized MCU; occasionally there were signs Gunn felt the pressure of it, and indeed rebelled against it. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 rendered a tie-in comic non-canon, for example, and Gunn admitted he contemplated breaking his own personal canon for the third film. “Marvel Canon – MCU – is crazy,” Gunn admitted. “I have a really good storytelling reason for breaking the canon, and I stayed up last night figuring out if I’m gonna do it or not. I still don’t know.” Given the complexity of the MCU and the degree to which fans take note of every detail, sooner or later that would have caused problems. Warner Bros., however, won’t particularly care; their view of continuity is very much that it should serve the director. That will give Gunn all the flexibility he needs to tell the best stories he can.
The latest reports confirm that James Gunn is on board as the writer of Suicide Squad 2, and he should breathe new life into the project. It remains to be seen whether or not Gunn will go on to become director as well; if he does, then he’d definitely be an effective choice, and the film would surely be guaranteed a success.
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2018-10-09 03:10:13 – Thomas Bacon