Thanks to the likes of superhero films Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad, director James Gunn has quickly risen the ranks of cultural pertinence, becoming arguably, the most important mainstream filmmaker in the modern industry. Shaping the modern superhero landscape, Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy series has had a profound effect on the rest of the sub-genre, infusing the films of Marvel and D.C with a distinct funny bone and sense of bombastic fun.
Beginning his career as a scriptwriter for several high-profile films, James Gunn penned the screenplays for the much-beloved Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, as well as Dawn of the Dead from director Zack Snyder, starring Ty Burrell, Ving Rhames and Sarah Polley. Soon finding his footing in the director’s chair, Gunn would kickstart his filmmaking career with the terrific body-horror Slither, before subverting the superhero genre with Super and revolutionising the formula with Guardians of the Galaxy.
Raising the superhero sub-genre to higher standards upon the release of Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, just five years later the director would get into an infamous dispute with the iconic filmmaker Martin Scorsese about the artistic nature of superhero movies. Speaking to Empire magazine, the Goodfellas and Wolf of Wall Street director stated that superhero films were “not cinema,” before adding: “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being”.
Infuriated by his point of view, James Gunn told the Happy Sad Confused podcast: “It just seems awful cynical that he kept coming out against Marvel”. Defending the media franchise and all the directors under its umbrella, including Taika Waititi, Jon Favreau and Kenneth Branagh, Gunn criticised Scorsese for simply trying to promote his 2019 film The Irishman. Continuing in his rant, Gunn added, “So he’s creating his movie in the shadow of the Marvel films, and so he uses that to get attention for something that he wasn’t getting as much attention as he wanted for it”.
Startlingly annoyed by Martin Scorsese’s comments, the stance of James Gunn could be understood after he tweeted on August 4th, 2021: “Martin Scorsese is probably the world’s greatest living American filmmaker”.
Heaping praise on the iconic director, Gunn adds: “I love and study his films and will continue to love and study his films. I disagree with him on one point: That films based on comic books are innately not cinema, that’s all”.
As Gunn also explained on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Scorsese is “one of the greatest filmmakers who ever existed,” making his comments speaking against the director more the product of great disappointment, rather than wild rage.
Whilst James Gunn may disagree with Martin Scorsese, this doesn’t stop him from considering him one of the best filmmakers of all time.