Superhero films have become a force to be reckoned with at the box office. This is evidenced by Marvel’s The Avengers, which broke records in 2012, and The Dark Knight. With over 40 comic-based films planned for release in the coming years, superhero features aren’t going away anytime soon. However, despite the financial success of these movies, they rarely receive recognition in major categories from prestigious organizations such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Marvel director Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) commented on the subject last year, pointing out that the superhero genre is generally thought of in terms of economic success rather than artistic achievement. Now, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has responded to recent criticisms of superhero films.
In a Facebook post, Gunn addressed the joke made during the opening sequence at the Oscars as well as a comment made by Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy in his acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards over the weekend. However, Gunn goes on to say that the filmmakers behind superhero features are equally as capable of making movies for the right reasons as those behind award-nominated films.
Read Gunn’s full post:
“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 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.”
Gunn is no stranger to voicing his thoughts and opinions about certain aspects of Hollywood. He previously criticized certain studios for rushing to begin shared universe franchises. However, since Gunn is a part of the industry, his criticisms hold a certain weight. Despite Marvel and Disney’s win at the Oscars (Big Hero 6 for Best Animated Feature), superhero films were relegated to the technical categories in the nominations this year.
Of course, Gunn’s points aren’t necessarily revolutionary, the fact that comic-based properties are not perceived to be artistically equal to more prestigious movies has been critiqued for many years. However, the superhero genre is expanding and enlisting many actors who have won or been nominated for an Oscar. Given this development, more inclusion of comic book movies in the awards pools is possible - perhaps even inevitable.
What do you think, Screen Rant readers? Do you agree with James Gunn or disagree? Let us know in the comments.
James Gunn's next film - Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - hits theaters May 5th, 2017.