Home Entertainment James Gunn defends superhero genre movies

James Gunn defends superhero genre movies

4 min read

James Gunn Guardians Poster

Genres rise and fall in popularity across all art and entertainment forms, from artwork to literature to music to movies; the latter being most relevant to us here at The Movies for obvious reasons. The one movie genre that’s clearly riding that wave of popularity is the superhero, raking in billions of box office dollars not just from comic book fans, but all movie-goers, and with critical acclaim in many instances. While we passionately argue the merits of our favourite Marvel or DC movies, or TV series for that matter, many of us enjoy the genre. However it’s also not uncommon to see genre work, again in all art and entertainment forms, referred to as lesser works in comparison to more true-to-life works; by people uncharitably referred to by me as pretentious, bohemian snobs.

And the superhero genre is a very big target for that kind of criticism at the moment. So much so that in the wake of the Oscars, which had a number of snide comments for the genre, James Gunn, director of last years incredibly entertaining (and successful) Guardians of the Galaxy, made a fairly lengthy Facebook post (via JoBlo) defending the genre:

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.

Ouch. Take that you pretentious, bohemian snobs. I have no problem admitting that a talking raccoon and tree brought tears to my cynical old eyes, in much the same way a scene from a more reality-based movie with genuine emotion would if that emotion has meaning to me. The experience is not lessened because of a fantastical setting or participants.

For reference this was the lyric from the song Jack Black performed that referred to superheros:

This industry’s in flux; it’s run by mucky-mucks, pitching tents for tent poles and chasing Chinese bucks.
Opening with lots of zeroes, all we get is superheroes.
Superman, Spider-Man, Batman,
Jedi man, sequel man, prequel man.
Formulaic scripts and after 50 Shade of Grey, they’ll all have leather whips.

It’s funny because it’s true. The more I read that the more I see how Black has accurately described the movie industry at the moment.

When it comes to genre work it’s all, quite simply, a matter of taste. And that taste is personal for every one of us, and can be as broad or narrow as you choose. I generally can’t stand horror movies. One of the best things about movies is that you can find something to suit any taste, and while you may not enjoy movies in a particular genre please don’t turn around and say they’re “not real movies”; because they are. So can’t we all just get along, world peace and all that? Oh, and Star Wars is silly.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: February 24, 2015


  1. I was sad about a tree, for the first time in my life


    • Ranting Raptor

      February 24, 2015 at 14:45

      Tree lover. Next we see you’re actually going to be hugging them


      • Admiral Chief

        February 24, 2015 at 14:46

        YOU SHUT IT!

        HE WAS GROOT


        • Ranting Raptor

          February 24, 2015 at 14:48

          So GROOT you couldn’t get your arms around it? Old tree….


        • Blood Emperor Trevor

          February 24, 2015 at 16:01

          Yoh. TMI dude, TMI! O_O


  2. Ranting Raptor

    February 24, 2015 at 14:48

    Well, Jack wasn’t wrong about the current state of movies haha. It’s 100% spot on. But it’s like that in every industry. In gaming it’s Zombies and always online. Then microtransactions.

    Industries flow where the money is. End of story. People are really rediscovering Superheroes and so the industry obliges.

    It’s not that bad as long as the movies are good and it’s not just being done crappy. Guardians for example was put together beautifully. It wasn’t just a rush job to climb on to the bandwagon. So is that so wrong? I don’t think so.

    Although Jack Black, when do we put Jedi in the same category of superheroes? Pfffff. A jedi craves not fame. Didn’t you know that?


    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      February 24, 2015 at 16:19

      Then why are they such prima-donnas with their shiny light swords? That’s right, I said SWORDS. *run*


      • Ranting Raptor

        February 24, 2015 at 16:30

        Oh no you didn’t! Force trips Trev


  3. Sgt. M

    February 24, 2015 at 15:29

    Uhm movies I watched in 2014 –
    Ride Along
    That Awkward Moment
    Winters Tale
    Anchorman 2
    Need for Speed
    Captain America 2
    Spiderman 2
    Bad Neighbours
    Xmen DOFP
    The Fault in our stars
    22 Jump street
    How to train your dragon 2
    Begin Again
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    What If
    Step up all in
    The Equalizer
    Gone Girl
    Dracula Untold
    John Wick
    I think saying its all about Superheroes is just plain ridiculous, they are ignoring excellent movies which aren’t even close to Superheroes. Idiots!!!!!!


    • Sgt. M

      February 24, 2015 at 15:30

      P.S. Holy shit I’ve seen quite a few that were made last year. That’s excluding every other year


    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      February 24, 2015 at 16:08

      It’s basically just elitism and it’s easier to see in literature I think. Just look at all the people talking about how Twilight or 50 Shades aren’t real books. They are, just maybe not to your particular taste. Good or bad is irrelevant to that. Fantasy/Sci-Fi is generally looked down on as “lesser”.

      I also remember being at a goth club the one night many years back, having a great time, and in the background is some twit moaning about how the music they’re playing wasn’t “real” goth music.


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