Way the fuck back in 2013 when I first caught wind that writer and director James Gunn had been handed the keys to the Magic Kingdom and a billion dollars to sally forth and construct a film version of the “Guardians of the Galaxy,” I thought I was losing my ever-loving mind.
The former Troma Entertainment kid behind the web series “PG Porn” — whose previous film “Super” featured Dwight Schrute as a jilted stalker caving in people’s heads with a pipe wrench — had signed his name in blood on Uncle Walt’s dotted line so he could make a film based on a comic book only the loneliest and lowest-level nerds cared about (do not even fucking pretend you were down with “Rocket Racoon” before the year 2014, you fucking liar.) “In no way,” I had mused to myself back then, “is this gonna end well for Mr. Gunn.”
And boi oh boi, was I both completely wrong and absolutely right.
I was wrong, in that Gunn knocked “Guardians of the Galaxy” out of the fucking park, not once, but twice, creating a hyper-accelerated toy box-come-to-life pair of films that spewed neon, slimy fun, full of goofball heroics, golden oldies, space pirates, bit parts, laser blasters and dad jokes, coming at you at such a successful rate that you knew he really meant it… that he took this opportunity to pour everything he had in to making the GOG films something unique, wild and sometimes a bit baffling, but always elevated far and away in a galaxy that was more playful and, dare I say, personal, than your average summer blockbuster, and, yet, I was also right — James Gunn would be destroyed before it was all said and done.
If you’ve read the tweets made by Gunn from 2008 to 2011 you totally understand why he was fired from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” Vol. 3, and if you haven’t, please take my word for it — they’re disgusting to a point of no return and cannot, in my opinion, be simply written off as jokes made in poor taste or, as he has claimed, failed provocations. Nor do they fall under the label of jokes that haven’t held up under the test of time, like say those on a Sam Kinison special from 1981, back when you could make yourself a millionaire by screaming out women-like-to-shop jokes as loud as you could (oh, the ‘80s, when cocaine made everything better than it really was).
No, what Gunn did was go for broke in dropping tweet after tweet after tweet that played and relished within the cruelest realms of humanity, to such a nauseating degree that they left me feeling shook, and I’m not easily shook or offended. And yet it wasn’t old tweets that I thought would be the downfall of Gunn at Disney/Marvel. (I’ve never been on Twitter, so I had no clue James Gunn, the mastermind behind the “Scooby Doo” movie, was running around making cracks about being a pedophile, so it still sounds like I made the right decision not signing up for that bullshit.) No, I had long figured it would have been his time schulbbing for Llyod Kaufman at Troma, the proud, septic tank of film studios and the lowest start you can get in the film industry, that would be the spike through Gunn’s heart, seeing as 99.9 percent of all of Troma’s output has been gleefully lewd and precisely designed to be all things in bad taste. Hell, there was even a time I was kinda of proud of ol’ James Gunn — he actually started from the bottom, pushing drafts of garbage scripts for sleazy titles owned by Troma, to branching out on his own for a few films before being brought to the bosom of Stan Lee.
See, the idea of “The Toxic Avenger” coexisting with the likes of “The Little Mermaid” within the confines of our modern day culture wars was a bond I just knew wasn’t going to last… not here, not now, not with big, big money on the line.
So fair thee well, James Gunn, ya blew it.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Vol. 3 is gonna fucking suck whether or not someone else tries to ape your style, or go in a different direction altogether, but, hey, whatever… there are more pressing matters afoot. I’m sure I’ll see you in hell, though! Kisses!