James Gunn skirts faux controversy as ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ closes in on cast

11.28.12 5 years ago 70 Comments

Hey, guys, I don’t want to speak out of turn, but I have a sneaking suspicion that James Gunn, who is writing and directing “Guardians Of The Galaxy” for Marvel, likes really, really dirty jokes.

I can’t prove it, but it’s just one of those feelings I get.  Maybe it’s because I’ve seen his Troma movies.  Or because I’ve watched his “PG Porn” shorts or because I saw “Super,” his deranged little riff on the superhero film, or because he is pretty much a non-stop blast of filthy and funny on Twitter.  If you’ve seen “Slither,” then I think you’ve got the basic idea, which is that there is no line James Gunn is unafraid to cross for no other reason that It amuses him.

The first thing I heard today about “Guardians” was that they’re about to start screen-testing guys for the lead, and it’s a cool short list of guys who could all bring something different to the part.  I like Joel Edgerton a lot, but don’t know Jack Huston at all.  I haven’t watched “Boardwalk Empire” yet, and if he’s in something else I’ve seen, I don’t recognize the name.  Jim Sturgess was really good in “Cloud Atlas,” and I’ll have my full review of Eddie Redmayne in “Les Miserables” soon.  The name that mosts interests me on this list is Lee Pace, who was really good in “Twilght: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.”  Yes, I know I just put the phrase “really good” in the same sentence as the title of that film, but Pace shows up and it’s like he’s just stepped in from another much more fun version of the franchise.  He could be a great unexpected choice for Peter Quill, who is half-human, half-alien, and the leader of the Guardians.

And that’s enough attention for one day for a film that’s not coming out until 2015, but then for some reason, a piece that ran on Gunn’s personal blog back on February 17, 2011 just turned into a “thing.”  I put that in quotes because I have trouble taking the controversy very seriously.  Gunn ran a list called “The 50 Superheroes You Most Want To Have Sex With: 2nd Annual Poll Results!” and it’s a long article full of photos and dirty jokes.  The one that made me laugh was number 21, Nightwing, but honestly, it’s the sort of thing that has been fodder for gratuitously dirty jokes since people have been reading superhero comics.  Par for the course.  Nothing particularly new or breathtakingly shocking.  I’ve read the think-pieces about how he’s responsible for “slut-shaming” these fictional characters and I’ve seen people who think the language of the piece is truly homophobic, and you ultimately have to decide if he crossed a line you’re not comfortable with… or maybe you don’t, since it’s not like you’re being forced to read it.

Is it just because he’s directing a big-budget superhero film that people are suddenly upset?  When something old like this goes viral, I always wonder about the motivation and the timing.  Someone had to make the conscious decision that this thing was going to be brought back from the dead right now.  I mean, it’s not even on his actual site anymore.  You can see it thanks to Google cache, but Gunn took it down.    Not that I think he particularly should have taken it down.  If you’re offended by it, I would never tell you not to be.  I would just tell you not to read his website, and that in general, that’s his voice.  That’s the sort of thing he finds funny.  And I don’t understand when we suddenly turned this corner in pop culture where we want everyone to round off their personal quirks and voices.  I would think the reason Marvel hired Gunn was precisely because he doesn’t have the same sensibility as everyone else making mainstream movies.  When they hired Shane Black for “Iron Man 3,” that was not the most immediate logical decision, but it fits in a way that makes it exciting.  I think Gunn being the guy at the helm of a movie about a bunch of aliens that include one dude who is made of plant matter and another dude who is a three-foot-tall laser-gun wielding raccoon with a bad attitude is fiendishly clever on Marvel’s part.  It’s a weird property, so why not steer the boat into the weird?  Why not embrace it without reservation?  Why not go big with it?

I am sure the list Gunn published doesn’t sit well with every comic fan, male or female, but I’m equally sure that there are many people who will never spare it another thought, and who will see “Guardians” (or not) regardless of what they think of something he published on his blog.

I just want to see who they hire as the lead.  It seems like one of the first times in a while where there’s almost no preconception of who a character like this is, making it easy to do almost anything they want with it.

“Guardians Of The Galaxy” arrives in theaters August 1, 2014.

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