MARVEL’S LOSS IS DC’S GAIN

Screen­writer Gunn could be just the man to save Sui­cide Squad, Sonny Bunch writes.

Calgary Herald - - YOU -

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.

WARNER BROS.

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.

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