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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Director James Gunn Reacts to The Oscars’ Superhero Shaming

If you were keeping track last night during the 87th Annual Academy Awards, host Neil Patrick Harris and the various presenters took their fair share of potshots at superhero cinema. Granted, these big-budget, seemingly ubiquitous films are easy targets with their massive followings, populist appeal, and larger-than-life source material. Still, an air of condescension was thick in the Dolby Theater during last night’s ceremony, and it rubbed many people the wrong way, including Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn.

During the ceremony, Jack Black took several potshots towards superhero cinema during his bit, and Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy derisively mentioned the “tsunami of superhero movies” during his acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards. Rather than taking this lying down, Gunn took to his Facebook page to address the doomsaying attitude many critics have expressed towards comic book movies in the wake of films like Birdman (which nabbed “Best Picture” last night).

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.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, James Gunn. While it seems like we’re hurtling towards superhero oversaturation sometimes, these films are, quite often than not, as worthy of your consideration as many of the indie movies or prestige pictures that tend to dominate awards season conversation. Discounting them because of the source material is ludicrous. What Gunn is asking here is for people to judge films on their merit, not their source material. Of course, based on the voting in the 5th Annual Nerdist Movie Awards, I’m preaching to the choir since you all clearly have excellent taste.

What do you think? Do you agree with Gunn or is he off-base? Let us know in the comments below.

HT: Badass Digest

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Comments

  1. Love is too conveniently intangible and abstract to be used as an argument in favor of anything.  I could use the same words to defend porn or velvet Elvis paintings.  I’m not criticizing super hero movies, by the way, I’m just saying Mr Gunn’s argument should not be taken seriously.

  2. Love is too conveniently difficult to evaluate or criticize. You could make the same bad argument in defense of porn or velvet Elvis paintings. 

  3. Peter Harkness says:

    Love is too conveniently difficult to quantify or evaluate.  You could make the same bad argument in defense of porn or cupcakes.

  4. shawn says:

    Guardians was my favorite movie of the year, easily.

  5. Daniel says:

    Gunn is right and its a shame that none of the academies see the artistry and look past the comic book aspects of it I for one would think there should be an award for there’s types of movies and tv shows there’s a comedic aspect with drama and action so pick an area or make a new one these actors and actresses directors and crew put there hearts in to theses movies I for one think they deserve  recognition

  6. Tony therugg says:

    James Gunn wrote the best version of romeo and Juliet  ever and has rocked at everything else. The Hollywood elite keep patting each other on the back with rehashed crap that make the room look like citizen kane.  Indie directors keep putting out awesomeness and the big studios keep making great superhero movies while the old school Hollywood  wants to make biopic about gay rights, or black rights activists for the 8004th time and we’re supposed to be impressed I haven’t paid to see a non superhero movie in years and I’m fine with that.

  7. Chris Pratt says:

    You Rock James!! Keep up what you’re doing man you’re fantastic I couldn’t agree more here. Everyone wants to be a critic , I say go make something yourself and learn just how difficult it is to create then maybe you have the right to say anything at all.

  8. billy says:

    Im not sure why we arent calling it what it is. It is the same thing most of us have endured so that we might cling to our nerdy geeky passions. It is bullying plain and simple. 

  9. Pessoa says:

    James Gunn defends who pays his salary and that’s his right. However, it’s a mistake to say “popular fare in any medium has always been snubbed”. Pixar movies were popular and respected, The Godfather I and II were blockbusters awarded by Academy. So Mr. Gunn, if you want do defend your employer, that’s fine. But don’t spread lies.

  10. Kenashi says:

    I’ve always thought entertainment award shows are a glorified marketing scheme to make more money off of titles that didn’t make much money at the box office. Independent and artsy films that didn’t rake in blockbuster dollars get the awards for “innovation” and “acting”. While that may be true for some or even most, the mainstream movie watcher typically thinks to themselves, “Wow, that movie won an award? I’ll have to check it out.”

  11. Mark says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with the article.  I watched the entire Oscars (I am guessing many of the comments below are from people who didn’t) and I thought Hollywood was very respectful to Guardians of the Galaxy and other films of this genre.  The potshots were very limited and no where near the amount for the Oscar favored films.  I think you are being too sensitive.  Getting a few (I repeat a few) barbs thrown at you is actually a good thing and shows that the film is on their radar.

  12. Jeff b says:

    Mph too…this is a guy who tripped balls in Harold and Kumar movies and makes cameos in muppet films. (Don’t get me wrong, long time muppet fan.) But for a director to take a group of d listers from the comic world and to give them all their own lives and personality traits and just make them all bad ass…preach my brother preach

  13. John Ranta says:

    I don’t like most super hero movies because they are trite and predictable. The plot twists are far too convenient, and character development is non-existent. 

  14. Fartbooty says:

    NPH is just jealous he’s not Batman and Jack Black wants to be Tony Stark because he’s the dude playin the dude disguised as another dude …

  15. I am totally with James Gunn. It has always been my feeling that “Best Picture” should be just that, the best picture. Source material and subject matter are irrelevant. For me, in order to make all things equal one must eliminate the subject matter from the equation and value the film on the craft of film making itself. Did the story flow logically from Point A to Point B, and so on? Did the actors portray characters that were believable for their given circumstances and did they react accordingly? Did the cinematography function to portray the mood that the director was trying to convey.? Did the musical score function as a character in the film seeking to aid the characters in casting their message adequately? Did the editing flow seamlessly from one scene to the next and did it make sense in the context of the picture? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves when we vote for a “best picture” not whether the film was about one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th and 21st centuries or about a talking raccoon who has a talking tree for a friend.

  16. Marc Richardson says:

    I am totally with James Gunn.  It has always been my feeling that “Best Picture” should be just that, the best picture.  Source material and subject matter are irrelevant.  For me, in order to make all things equal one must eliminate the subject matter from the equation and value the film on the craft of film making itself.  Did the story flow logically from Point A to Point B, and so on?  Did the actors portray characters that were believable for their given circumstances and did they react accordingly?  Did the cinematography function to portray the mood that the director was trying to convey.?  Did the musical score function as a character in the film seeking to aid the characters in casting their message adequately?  Did the editing flow seamlessly from one scene to the next and did it make sense in the context of the picture?  These are the questions we should be asking ourselves when we vote for a “best picture” not whether the film was about one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th and 21st centuries or about a talking raccoon who has a talking tree for a friend.

  17. Hollywood best get used to super hero movies they have been around since the 50s and 60s and with new technology expect more and more if you ever went to a com con convention you’d see there is huge following. And a long as the box office makes money expect more. 

  18. Comic book heroes are nothing new superman bat man wonder woman and the list goes have been around since 50s and 60s . Now with the modern technology you all better expect a lot more super hero’s there are a lot of fans for super hero’s don’t believe go to one of Com cons coast to coast.  And we demand to be taken seriously.  Hero’s come in many forms let our super hero so be we want to continue dominating the box office so get used to it

  19. Tminus says:

    Where’s Kanye when you need him?

  20. DaFunkyBeats says:

    Dan Gilroy… what a hypocrite!! Maybe he has amnesia?? How can he stand there and say that after he worked w/ Tim Burton for over a year on the (failed) Superman Lives movie. Hmmm…. jaded much??

  21. Dave says:

    What I remember, growing up with the comics, was no vial language, no noticeable sex, and hardly any “real” violence. Good source material I say.

  22. Ramon Gil says:

    Mr Casey, it sounds like you’re defending comic book movies but belittling comic books. “Discounting them because of the source material is ludicrous.”

  23. TG says:

    So, Guardians made more money than all 8 Best picture nominees combined, and was a film both well-crafted and engaging. Snaps to Dancing Baby Groot for telling the snotty Academy to piss off…

  24. John Robertson says:

    If everyone wanted to see Woody Allen movies all day, there would be more of them. (BTW, he is my favorite film maker).  Look, the Super Hero genre is steeped in American Culture and History, with a built in mega-audience that has been brewing since the 1950’s.  If you don’t “get it” or don’t “like it” – don’t go see it.  Additionally, it marries perfectly with the technology and the fanfare/regalia that IS Hollywood. It’s just a period in time where the two mediums are merging.  It WILL play itself out and YES, I am DAMNED happy to get to be part of it while it’s going down.  I’m not “sick of it” yet folks~  

  25. goozie says:

    Guardians was the best movie of the year w/ Lego Movie a close second.  Birdman was a pretentious, plodding snooze.  The Oscars are less credible than the Grammys and the Grammys gave Jethro Tull an award for best metal performance (over Metallica no less).  Both of these industry circle jerks jumped the shark a 100 years ago.   

  26. Jeff says:

    Can James Gunn  guest on Person of Interest playing Harold Finch’s brother or something? I swear he and Michael Emerson look related.

  27. Adam says:

    I’ve never watched the grammies, the oscars, or any of the other BS award shows. Maybe if they were more objective in their picks, but as it stands why would you want to watch awards be given to actors by other actors? Actors make millions of dollars, then they blow thousands on some outfit for the red carpet.  And its all for the sake of publicity. Well if their acting was better they wouldnt need to spend half a million on a dress to get some publicity. If they want to take pot shots at a genre… so be it.  Notice the ones taking the pot shots arent good enough to act in the super hero genre.  They’re just mad they didnt get invited to have some fun and make something that epic.

  28. nateous says:

    I was with you until you put avengers and transformers in the same sentence.

  29. Matt says:

    That guy deserves another bullet, not an oscar.

  30. Kenashi says:

    I’ve always thought entertainment award shows are a glorified marketing scheme to make more money off of titles that didn’t make much money at the box office. Independent and artsy films that didn’t rake in blockbuster dollars get the awards for “innovation” and “acting”. While that may be true for some or even most, the mainstream movie watcher typically thinks to themselves, “Wow, that movie won an award? I’ll have to check it out.”

  31. really? says:

    Link proof that Greg Berlanti was in charge of the Oscars because he’s working on Supergirl right now and probably doesn’t have the time to work on the Oscars.

  32. Mickey Michael says:

    exactly!! I’ve been reading comic for 32 years! It’s just another medium to tell stories. Putting down comics, which can tell stories about men in tights, or the zombie apocalypse, or a gritty crime drama, is the same as putting down tv, which obviously can be just as diverse in it’s story telling. Comic books are often able to cut out the middle man idiot executive who knows nothing of story telling.

  33. Mark says:

    What did you ever make?  Other than cowardly internet comments

  34. Nick says:

    That’s is how I felt about whiplash but I also enjoy jk Simmons  and I love jazz and blues music. But def. Interstellar  wins over Guardians give me a break. 

  35. djkento says:

    NOPE! SORRY this argument just doesn’t work. One does not have to create or be a part of an artistic field in order to be a commenter or offer a critique of it. 
    But you can validate your opinion with your knowledge and history of studying that field. For instance, I’ve taken multiple courses in film history, exposed myself to tens of thousands of films from all over the world, from all eras. 
    This year alone I’m bordering on having seen and written about 100 films… yes… since January 1st I’ve seen nearly 100 films and I’ve written about all of them. 
    I’ve been paid for my opinion on film, had my work published on line and in print. I’ve been on CNN, XM radio and more as a featured commentator as a film journalist.
    Film criticism and journalism has fed me, sheltered me, allowed me to meet and become friends with actors, directors and producers around the world… So with those qualifications…
    JACK BLACK SHOULD NOT BE CRITICIZING SUPER HERO FILMS AS A GENRE OR ANY OTHER TYPE OF FILM. 
    I like the guy. I’ve met him, but come on… The guy has made some ridiculous crap. 

  36. Ed says:

    Nacho libre, school of rock, are a-typical outgoing fat guy shtick. In the same vein as Chris Farley. I always felt he tried too hard to be like Chris Farley 

  37. There is a large body of independently financed films, all over the world, that refute this narrow-minded view.  Your cynical opinion of cinema does little more than make you look dumb.

  38. Mein Kampf also had something to say.  By saying this I’m not equating super hero movies with Hitler or you with Nazis, I’m just saying your argument is a bad one.  Your blanket disregard of the romantic film genre is tiresome, and does little more than make you look dumb, given the history of cinema.  

  39. This is an honest response and your passion is without question.  However, just because you enjoy a thing doesn’t mean it is serious art or even good art or even art at all.  It’s OK to admit you like dumb things.  We all have the ability to enjoy dumb things and also serious things.  It’s what makes us human.  I personally like horror films but there is no way I would disagree with anyone who criticized them for being inferior, as a whole, to other films.  I don’t like them because they are “good”. 

  40. Your argument was unassailable until you made that last point where you imply anyone who criticizes super hero movies is a “hater” who sucks and is square.  At that point, unfortunately, you made yourself look dumb.  “Hating” on things, as you put it, adds to the intellectual atmosphere of our country if done properly, and kind of stimulates dialog that helps us grow as a species.  Anyway, this just FYI.  

  41. Vegeta says:

    Can you shut the fuck up damn stop making people feel bad with you stupid comments