Guardians of the Galaxy's James Gunn Blasts Oscars Superhero Jokes
We're the first to complain that sci-fi and superhero movies don't get nearly enough awards attention, even when they're highly acclaimed by critics. But this Oscar season, there was not only passive omission of superhero movies, but overt ridicule of them. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn took to Facebook in order to blast the "self-appointed elite" of the film industry.
In the final weekend of Oscar season, superhero movies took a lot of flack. First, at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy lambasted the "tsunami of superhero movies" in the film industry. Then, during the Oscars' opening number, actor Jack Black sang an anti-ode to superhero movies, "Opening with lots of zeroes, all we get are superheroes: Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Jedi Man, Sequel Man, Prequel Man, formulaic scripts!"
Gunn wrote in his response to the jokes, "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...
"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."
It's somewhat fitting that Gunn wrote this response, as Guardians of the Galaxy was arguably the most well-respected superhero film of the year, with critics enjoying it almost as much as fans. It was mostly relegated to the technical categories during awards season, as genre films often are. It did get a surprise WGA nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, but only because several traditionally Oscar bait-y films were not eligible.
Although I don't think all superhero films deserve as much respect as Guardians, Gunn is right that the genre is unduly written off simply because it has mass appeal. I don't think anyone would want to nominate Thor: The Dark World for any Oscars, but the Dark Knight snub in 2008 was so egregious, it inspired the Academy to expand their number of Best Picture nominees. Some superhero movies are good, some are bad, but they should be in the mix along with more traditional dramas as long as they're deserving.
Here's the full text of Gunn's post:
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 kind of 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.