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James Gunn defends superhero movies after Oscar jokes

02.23.2015

james gunn

I say jokes, but I can't remember any specific “jokes” from last night’s Oscar show. That’s not me being a jerk store; I was actually surprised at just how unfunny the show was. I guess it’s not a comedy show or anything, but look no further than Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes to know how to treat a room full of celebrities. During the opening musical number last night, Jack Black came onstage and sang about the lack of originality in movies and took a jab at superhero movies. See? Told you it wasn't a funny show.

It went something exactly like this:

“This industry’s in flux; it’s run by mucky-mucks, pitching tents for tentpoles 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.”

I’ve lived with the realization that horror movies are not to everyone’s taste and the academy recognizing films in that genre is as likely as Lloyd Kaufman being nominated for an award. This song dis here directed towards the superhero genre was surprising though because, as The Wrap pointed out, 9 acting nominees are with comic book roles. This made for a great rebuttal from the one and only James Gunn, director of a little movie you may have heard of last year called GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Of course, you can expect a high level of class here:

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.

james gunn

That mic drop you just heard was from Gunn; he’s on his way now to write some solid dialogue for the talking raccoon. It’s ironic because BIRDMAN would exist without superhero movies.. It’s sad that we live with this patronizing attitude when it comes to specific genres; it's all subjective anyway, but still. Don't act like your industry would survive without monsters, mutants, and heroes.

What do you think, light-hearted jab or something more?

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Source: The WrapJames Gunn

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3:55PM on 02/24/2015
Both are right but Jack Black is more right
Both are right but Jack Black is more right
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1:03PM on 02/24/2015
Would you like some aloe for that burn, Gilroy?
Would you like some aloe for that burn, Gilroy?
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11:48AM on 02/24/2015
Well said.
Well said.
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10:56AM on 02/24/2015

There are no bad (or good) genres.

There are only bad (or good) movies and bad (or good) movie people (actors, directors, etc.).
There are only bad (or good) movies and bad (or good) movie people (actors, directors, etc.).
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10:33AM on 02/24/2015
Probably one of the most humble ways of saying go fuck yourselves to the Academy & Gilroy. Gotta love James Gunn & the passion he is bringing to the industry. I wish more filmmakers had his same attitude, I have enjoyed everything he has come out with since his Scooby Doo days.
Probably one of the most humble ways of saying go fuck yourselves to the Academy & Gilroy. Gotta love James Gunn & the passion he is bringing to the industry. I wish more filmmakers had his same attitude, I have enjoyed everything he has come out with since his Scooby Doo days.
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10:05AM on 02/24/2015
Gunn loves what he does and it comes out in the product.
Being a film maker sometimes means blocking out the noise of the self-important haters. It is a little more difficult when they slam you for doing what you love doing.
I got sick to death of the Academy and their artsy films, the pretentiousness of it all. There is so little appreciation for actual entertainment within the Academy. Unless a film makes you feel bad, they don't consider it a good film.
Gunn loves what he does and it comes out in the product.
Being a film maker sometimes means blocking out the noise of the self-important haters. It is a little more difficult when they slam you for doing what you love doing.
I got sick to death of the Academy and their artsy films, the pretentiousness of it all. There is so little appreciation for actual entertainment within the Academy. Unless a film makes you feel bad, they don't consider it a good film.
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9:51AM on 02/24/2015
The Academy is notoriously elitist when it comes to what they consider "art." Now, outside of Black's song (which was a hilarious indictment of studios' obsession with milking commercial properties) there wasn't a whole lot of anti-super-hero sentiment at the Oscars. As for Gilroy, it's the Independent Spirit Awards! No one is there because they made a Marvel movie that was really good. Because those movies aren't indies.

Now, I think James Gunn is right, and populist entertainment is
The Academy is notoriously elitist when it comes to what they consider "art." Now, outside of Black's song (which was a hilarious indictment of studios' obsession with milking commercial properties) there wasn't a whole lot of anti-super-hero sentiment at the Oscars. As for Gilroy, it's the Independent Spirit Awards! No one is there because they made a Marvel movie that was really good. Because those movies aren't indies.

Now, I think James Gunn is right, and populist entertainment is unfairly picked on (not that their box office returns make them any less attractive a target). I feel like his response is disproportionate to Gilroy's comment. After all, Nightcrawler was the little movie that could.
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10:14AM on 02/24/2015
Agreed. The Academy is self-loathing in so many ways.
Agreed. The Academy is self-loathing in so many ways.
1:51AM on 02/24/2015

Tell'em Gunn!

Glad Gunn said something and he's the man to say it. Honestly hearing people complain about the spoil of comic book films that come out drives me nuts. Do you know how long I (and other true comic fans) have waited for this era of filmmaking to arrive!? If ten year old me could see things now!...and yet...more complaining. Oh boo hoo not another 200 million dollar comic book extravaganza. F&%# that crappy attitude! Winter Soldier and Guardians were two of the best films of the year, WS being
Glad Gunn said something and he's the man to say it. Honestly hearing people complain about the spoil of comic book films that come out drives me nuts. Do you know how long I (and other true comic fans) have waited for this era of filmmaking to arrive!? If ten year old me could see things now!...and yet...more complaining. Oh boo hoo not another 200 million dollar comic book extravaganza. F&%# that crappy attitude! Winter Soldier and Guardians were two of the best films of the year, WS being particularly relevant to society and yet it still gets poo poo'ed. Oy vey are you kidding me!? Its not like Superhero films are the ONLY movies coming out either. There's around 400 releases a year in theaters so there's plenty to choose from and that's just broad theatrical. Comic book films are having their time in the sun and goshdarnit I'll watch hit monkey 3 in the theaters if its out! And lets not forget that this push of comic films causes artists not as interested in the genre to want to make great films as well to offset it. Its the best of both worlds so everyone just chill! That being said I loved Birdman and actually didn't find it an indictment on comic films the way others may have.
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1:07AM on 02/24/2015

This has been going on since Marxist thought hit the humanities

in the 1920's, and was articulated by Clement Greenburg (the guy who discovered Jackson Pollock) in a 1954 essay. "High Art" has to be difficult, abstract and understandable only by a discerning elite, while "kitsch" is the opiate of the masses. It's an academic attitude that still exists today, despite attacks from everyone from Andy Warhol to Bob Dylan. Even Greenburg got hammered by his own contemporaries because he didn't think "high art" had to be political in nature, and the others
in the 1920's, and was articulated by Clement Greenburg (the guy who discovered Jackson Pollock) in a 1954 essay. "High Art" has to be difficult, abstract and understandable only by a discerning elite, while "kitsch" is the opiate of the masses. It's an academic attitude that still exists today, despite attacks from everyone from Andy Warhol to Bob Dylan. Even Greenburg got hammered by his own contemporaries because he didn't think "high art" had to be political in nature, and the others did.

"Superhero movies" - no matter how good - are still considered kitsch because they're supposedly simple stories meant to amuse the Great Unwashed. Yes, it's b******t but that's still the pervading attitude.
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12:31AM on 02/24/2015

Sweet Jesus, Proofread!!

Do you seriously just post articles without proofreading or spell checking? What is going on lately on this site?

On topic:
I think Gunn needs to not be so sensitive and be a little more self aware of his position and the cause of his success. Jack Black's comments are entirely on point and Gunn is missing the point if he doesn't realize that his formulaic little meme-fest is at the center of an industry that is milking every last drop from its predictable audience base. Critics look down
Do you seriously just post articles without proofreading or spell checking? What is going on lately on this site?

On topic:
I think Gunn needs to not be so sensitive and be a little more self aware of his position and the cause of his success. Jack Black's comments are entirely on point and Gunn is missing the point if he doesn't realize that his formulaic little meme-fest is at the center of an industry that is milking every last drop from its predictable audience base. Critics look down on [link] films because they by great majority do not attempt to do anything other than cash a paycheck. Believe me Gunn, Michael Bay loves his movies just as much as you do but people don't like him because he loves them for making fools out of the audience stupid enough to support him.
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12:09AM on 02/24/2015
I think it's a phase of What's Hot at the moment. Remember the 80s/90s where we had lots of action movies, i.e. Die Hard, Above The Law, Broken Arrow, Independence Day, Face / Off, etc. Like Superhero movies, those were big budget action movies and back then we had loads of them. Now it's an age of big budget Superhero movies which I'm sure will run for another decade. Speaking of 80s/90s, I do miss those action movies.
I think it's a phase of What's Hot at the moment. Remember the 80s/90s where we had lots of action movies, i.e. Die Hard, Above The Law, Broken Arrow, Independence Day, Face / Off, etc. Like Superhero movies, those were big budget action movies and back then we had loads of them. Now it's an age of big budget Superhero movies which I'm sure will run for another decade. Speaking of 80s/90s, I do miss those action movies.
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8:48AM on 02/24/2015
I miss those action movies in a single setting days...Die Hard 1 and 2, Speed, Under Siege...heck, even that one from JCVD at the ice hockey match...Sudden Death, I think.
I miss those action movies in a single setting days...Die Hard 1 and 2, Speed, Under Siege...heck, even that one from JCVD at the ice hockey match...Sudden Death, I think.
8:58AM on 02/24/2015
Yep, that's Sudden Death - another good movie from Peter Hyams and JCVD.
Yep, that's Sudden Death - another good movie from Peter Hyams and JCVD.
11:52PM on 02/23/2015
The lyrics seem accurate, but then 'the industry being in flux and run by mucky mucks' happened long before superhero movies (or to be exact, Marvel superhero movies) become prominent. And of course, every time someone says that superhero movies can't be a serious Hollywood movie, I always point to The Dark Knight Returns.
The lyrics seem accurate, but then 'the industry being in flux and run by mucky mucks' happened long before superhero movies (or to be exact, Marvel superhero movies) become prominent. And of course, every time someone says that superhero movies can't be a serious Hollywood movie, I always point to The Dark Knight Returns.
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11:30PM on 02/23/2015
I fully agree with James Gunn. Just because it's not your flavour of movie does not mean those that direct/work on/act in/animate/etc, do it for shits and giggles. Even flops have love and passion put into them. The world is FULL of movies out there. Blockbusters will always be around and right now Marvel/DC are part of that, as well as on the network TV. It's a great time for comic fans. That said, it doesn't mean other artistic or serious films should be ignored, but no genre should be
I fully agree with James Gunn. Just because it's not your flavour of movie does not mean those that direct/work on/act in/animate/etc, do it for shits and giggles. Even flops have love and passion put into them. The world is FULL of movies out there. Blockbusters will always be around and right now Marvel/DC are part of that, as well as on the network TV. It's a great time for comic fans. That said, it doesn't mean other artistic or serious films should be ignored, but no genre should be snubbed just because it's not "serious" enough.
If you don't like the superhero genre, there are other options out there. I'm excited to finally be getting a Deadpool movie.
At the end of the day, a movie is a movie and there are plenty of paychecks as well as passion projects, no matter the genre. I think that is what Gunn meant, not to be naive and think that only a "serious" film is a validation of quality. It's unjust to not call a superhero film a "passion: film when some of those directors clearly put a lot more than $$$ in their work.
Stop being pretentious. If you don't care for the genre, see something else. After a 44hr work week, I don't need to watch "serious drama". It's not my thing nor do I hold it against those that do enjoy them.
No one is FORCING you to watch a movie you don't care for. I'm not gonna cry about your genre films so stop crying about my genre films.
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11:04PM on 02/23/2015
Considering Jack Black's film career is pretty much over because he made some real bombs, he should not be talking about films at all.
There really are not a huge amount of superhero films coming out, if you don't like them, don't see them, I bet if you search real hard you MIGHT find other films to see.
Considering Jack Black's film career is pretty much over because he made some real bombs, he should not be talking about films at all.
There really are not a huge amount of superhero films coming out, if you don't like them, don't see them, I bet if you search real hard you MIGHT find other films to see.
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10:39PM on 02/23/2015
If the Superhero films stopped right now forever, and Hollywood started focusing more on original material, I would be one happy SOB. I'm honestly just numb to Superhero films now.
If the Superhero films stopped right now forever, and Hollywood started focusing more on original material, I would be one happy SOB. I'm honestly just numb to Superhero films now.
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10:09PM on 02/23/2015
I like comic book films as much as the next guy, but I'll admit I wish we had more original big-budget blockbuster films. These days it's either based on comic books, previous films, or young-adult novels. It's interesting to listen to comments about the Oscars from those who aren't big film buffs (people who don't visit this site). In recent years the Oscars have been all about awarding the more artsy, smaller films. I miss the days when you could still have a commercially successful movie
I like comic book films as much as the next guy, but I'll admit I wish we had more original big-budget blockbuster films. These days it's either based on comic books, previous films, or young-adult novels. It's interesting to listen to comments about the Oscars from those who aren't big film buffs (people who don't visit this site). In recent years the Oscars have been all about awarding the more artsy, smaller films. I miss the days when you could still have a commercially successful movie that was fantastic and win best picture, like Forrest Gump, Titanic, Gladiator, Return of the King. I'm not saying a blockbuster should win every year, because it shouldn't, and I'm fine with Birdman winning since it's a great film.
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9:23PM on 02/23/2015
Most of the jokes at the Oscars this year sucked. They should do a song in how the Oscar's only give awards to cliched characters and performances.
Most of the jokes at the Oscars this year sucked. They should do a song in how the Oscar's only give awards to cliched characters and performances.
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7:55AM on 02/24/2015
No bigger cliche this year than sniper. I love how butthurt you are over the Oscars.
No bigger cliche this year than sniper. I love how butthurt you are over the Oscars.
9:15PM on 02/23/2015
"This is the burns unit calling Dan Gilroy. Dan Gilroy please make your way to the burns unit.
"This is the burns unit calling Dan Gilroy. Dan Gilroy please make your way to the burns unit.
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9:13PM on 02/23/2015

The song was correct

Jack Blacks little song was spot on in my mind. I laughed and said this is all accurate.
Jack Blacks little song was spot on in my mind. I laughed and said this is all accurate.
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