MARVEL’S LOSS IS DC’S GAIN
Screenwriter Gunn could be just the man to save Suicide Squad, Sonny Bunch writes.
When the recent news broke that DC and Warner Bros. had hired James Gunn to write a script for a forthcoming Suicide Squad movie — it is still unclear whether it is a sequel to the 2016 blockbuster or a full-on reboot — it struck me as a masterstroke.
Gunn last made headlines when he was fired from the Guardians of the Galaxy series after right-wing activists, angry about Disney-owned ABC firing Roseanne Barr from her show for making a possibly racist and definitely stupid joke about Valerie Jarrett, dug up old tweets and blog posts from Gunn in which he made jokes involving pedophilia.
On the one hand, DC’s decision to hire him is a brilliant move on the trolling front. Warner Bros. is picking up a guy from Marvel and Disney who wrote and directed two films that notched high marks from critics and combined to gross more than $1.6 billion worldwide, despite the fact that the heroes in those movies — the eponymous Guardians — were, at best, fourth-tier, head-scratching characters.
And DC brings in some fresh blood that might help rejuvenate its (often unfairly maligned) cinematic universe at Marvel’s expense.
Leaving aside whether Gunn is a good fit for the property (and his offbeat brand of dark comedy seems like a perfect fit for a movie about a team of criminals released from prison with bombs implanted in their heads and forced to do dirty work for the U.S. government to earn their true freedom), it’s a tremendously spiteful effort. And spite is a powerful a motivator in our modern life.
More important, though, DC’s hiring of Gunn strikes me as a blow for justice — one that has the potential to undermine our current vogue for ginning up outrage to punish our ideological enemies by denying them the ability to make a living.
Consider the chaos the Gunn firing has introduced into the shockingly stable Marvel Cinematic Universe. For the first time in 10 years of MCU movies, there is open dissent in the ranks. The cast and crew of Guardians of the Galaxy penned an open letter denouncing Disney’s decision to axe Gunn. Dave Bautista, who plays the alien Drax, has been particularly vociferous in his criticism, threatening to quit Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and asking on Twitter “Where do I sign up!” when Deadline broke the news of Gunn coming to DC.
Disney undoubtedly thinks it can weather this dissent, given the ironclad contracts that all of these actors have signed on to in exchange for the honour of being a part of the most successful studio enterprise in modern memory. But the Gunn move could hit Disney and Marvel where it really hurts: in their pocketbooks.
Assuming that Marvel still plans on going through with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which was supposedly headed for a 2020 release date, there is no guarantee that whoever they bring on board will be able to guide the film to another $800-million-plus payday. Meanwhile, audience excitement for a Gunn-helmed Suicide Squad will be through the roof, and critics, already a tribal sort, will undoubtedly be willing to give Gunn and DC the benefit of the doubt, if only to stick it to the conservative scolds who got Gunn fired in the first place.
It would serve Marvel right to see one of its flagship franchises take a financial hit while simultaneously watching its biggest competition earn a financial boost, all because it caved to a social media mob.
DC hopes screenwriter James Gunn will bring a fresh energy to the Suicide Squad franchise, which stars, among others, Common, left, as Monster T, Jared Leto as The Joker and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Gunn was responsible for the Guardians of the Galaxy series.