In a massive interview with The New York Times given ahead of The Suicide Squad’s release, director James Gunn has both detailed the events of his 2018 firing from Marvel and what it was like working on his upcoming DC release.
Speaking with The New York Times, Gunn revealed that Marvel’s uber-producer, Kevin Feige, was the one who spoke to him about the lurid and sarcastic tweets that got the director in trouble.
“It was conveyed to me by Kevin Feige,” Gunn explained. “I called Kevin the morning it was going on, and I said, ‘Is this a big deal?’ And he goes, ‘I don’t know.’”
He continued, “That was a moment. I was like, ‘You don’t know?’ I was surprised. Later he called me — he himself was in shock — and told me what the powers that be had decided.”
Gunn admitted that he was rocked by their decision, recalling, “It was unbelievable. And for a day, it seemed like everything was gone. Everything was gone. I was going to have to sell my house. I was never going to be able to work again. That’s what it felt like.”
The apparent near end of his career came when a series of tweets of a sexual and suggestive nature from years prior – some involving references to children – came back to haunt him.
It’s been a decade since those tweets were made, and Gunn says he and his sense of humor have changed since then, explaining, “I’m more considerate of people’s feelings today.”
“I had talked about this a lot before those tweets were [resurfaced],” he added. “They are awful things, that’s what my sense of humor was back then. But before this ever happened, I realized that I had closed myself off to things I thought were schmaltzy because I didn’t want to be vulnerable.”
To shield himself, Gunn admits he hid behind an attitude of “I can make a joke about anything, look how great I am,” which he swears wasn’t “the fullness of me as a human being” – something he clarifies was a lesson learned “long before I got called out for the tweets.”
However, Marvel took action regardless, and Gunn was fired from the studio. Then, the call came from Warner Bros. asking him to make the new cinematic semi-sequel/soft reboot of the Suicide Squad.
After working with both of the Big Two’s stable of characters, the first director to receive credit for doing so (notwithstanding Joss Whedon’s Justice League reshoots), Gunn noted that while there aren’t as many operational differences as people think, there were still clear distinctions between the two cinematic universes.
“There’s no doubt Kevin Feige is way more involved with editing than people are at Warner Bros,” explained Gunn, further adding, for example, that Feige would give notes that he didn’t always heed.
Despite that freedom, the director noted that he might not revisit the MCU after Guardians of the Galaxy 3, but may instead stick with DC and the “fun” their properties would allow him.
“I do find, because of the ability to do different stuff in the DC multiverse, it’s fun,” he said. “They’re starting to really resemble their comic books.”
As far as those go, Gunn stated that the books that stand out most to him are the ‘self-contained’ stories like Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and The Killing Joke.
Though The Joker factors into two of those tales, audiences shouldn’t expect to see any sight of Jared Leto’s depiction of the character in The Suicide Squad, irrespective of his presence in the last film, as after a chat with WB concerning what parts of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad he could ignore – which was pretty much everything – Gunn decided Joker wasn’t pertinent to his story.
“I wanted it to be its own thing completely,” he said. “They [WB] said, listen, we would love it if Margot’s in the movie but she doesn’t have to be. You could come up with all new characters or you could keep all the same characters.”
Luckily for Margot Robbie, Gunn chose to hold onto Harley, a character who he places on his personal’ Mount Rushmore of characters’“on the wall next to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Spider-Man, Hulk” ,because of how “incredibly written” she was “by Paul Dini from the beginning.”
As for Leto’s Joker, Gunn flatly stated, “Joker, no. I just don’t know why Joker would be in the Suicide Squad. He wouldn’t be helpful in that type of war situation.”
A lot of readers would disagree with this take, given how adaptable the Jester of Genocide can be, leading some to speculate that Gunn’s decision could be based on other factors, such as the negative attitude the director has towards the actor (in a May 2018 tweet, Gunn implied that Leto engaged in pedophilia).
However, none of these stipulations or possible grievances dogged Gunn’s creative freedom, and the director got exactly what he wanted from the time he was approached by Warner.
“When I first met with @wbpictures & @DCComics about #TheSuicideSquad I said it would need to be an R-rated war film with no-holds-barred,” he noted in his most recent Twitter revelation. “I am always [upfront] with partners about what I want to do. They agreed. Once the rules were set we were off & running. I love this movie.”
When David Ayer, whose production was plagued with interference, chimed in with a “Dang,” Gunn replied thanking him for paving the way.
“Although a lot of the major players at Warners were different people, there was no doubt their troubles with you helped to pave an easier path for me, David, so I’m very grateful for that, and for everything else you did to help this movie along its path,” Gunn wrote.
A segment of fandom is tirelessly trying to get the rumored Ayer Cut of the first Suicide Squad film released on August 5th, the day before the upcoming film hits theaters and HBO Max. The potential there is very sli,m but The Suicide Squad, out next week, is so far winning the hearts of critics.
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