'Guardians of the Galaxy' Director on Awards Season's Superhero Hate: Just "Say We're Dumb"

James Gunn challenges "serious" filmmakers to say they "put more love into your characters than the Russo Brothers do Captain America, or Joss Whedon does the Hulk, or I do a talking raccoon."
AP Images/Invision

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has penned a response to the zingers the superhero genre suffered during the final two days of awards season.

During the opening number of Sunday's Oscars, Jack Black portrayed superheroes as a blight on the industry, singing: "Opening with lots of zeroes, all we get are superheroes: Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Jedi Man, Sequel Man, Prequel Man, formulaic scripts!"

And a day earlier at the Independent Spirit Awards, Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy blasted a "tsunami of superhero movies" that had hit the industry.

"What bothers me slightly is that many people assume because you make big films that you put less love, care, and thought into them then people do who make independent films or who make what are considered more serious Hollywood films," Gunn wrote in a Facebook post Monday.

Gunn noted that Gilroy's wife Rene Russo appeared in two Thor films. The director, who has helmed smaller budget films like  2010's Super, went on to write that superhero films can be just as personal as indie films.

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"If you think people who make superhero movies are dumb, come out and say we're dumb. But if you, as an independent filmmaker or a 'serious' filmmaker, think you put more love into your characters than the Russo Brothers do Captain America, or Joss Whedon does the Hulk, or I do a talking raccoon, you are simply mistaken."

Despite Black's joke, the Oscars telecast had plenty of behind-the-scenes superhero connections. Greg Berlanti, executive producer of CW's Arrow and The Flash served as head writer, with his fellow executive producer Andrew Kreisberg and Green Lantern screenwriter Michael Green also on the team.  

The current expanded roster of best picture nominees is a legacy of the uproar over The Dark Knight not earning a nomination, prompting host Hugh Jackman to sing in his opening number for 2009's Oscars, "How come comic book movies never get nominated? How can a billion dollars be unsophisticated?" 

Though Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Captain America: The Winter Soldier were nominated in the technical categories, Disney's Big Hero Six was the only superhero film to take home an Oscar, winning for best animated feature.

Read Gunn's full post below:

I didn't really find the Jack Black superhero jokes offensive, did you guys? It was, like, a joke. I'm not sure if you guys noticed, but the writing on the Oscars didn't seem to be all that well thought out.

As far as Dan Gilroy saying that attendees of the Independent Spirit Awards have survived against a "tsunami of superhero films" - well it seems a bit weird coming from a guy whose wife has acted in two Thor films - really, that seems kind of like you've drowned horribly in that tsunami. But I know I just kind of make up stuff as I go along on these awards shows, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Whatever the case, the truth is, popular fare in any medium has always been snubbed by the self-appointed elite. I've already won more awards than I ever expected for Guardians. What bothers me slightly is that many people assume because you make big films that you put less love, care, and thought into them then people do who make independent films or who make what are considered more serious Hollywood films.

I've made B-movies, independent films, children's movies, horror films, and gigantic spectacles. I find there are plenty of people everywhere making movies for a buck or to feed their own vanity. And then there are people who do what they do because they love story-telling, they love cinema, and they want to add back to the world some of the same magic they've taken from the works of others. In all honesty, I do no find a strikingly different percentage of those with integrity and those without working within any of these fields of film.

If you think people who make superhero movies are dumb, come out and say we're dumb. But if you, as an independent filmmaker or a "serious" filmmaker, think you put more love into your characters than the Russo Brothers do Captain America, or Joss Whedon does the Hulk, or I do a talking raccoon, you are simply mistaken.

 

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch 

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