‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Co-Screenwriter Nicole Perlman Reportedly Threw A “‘F–K James Gunn’ Party” After Winning Arbitration Battle For Script Credit
According to a new insight into the rather well-known battle over the film’s screenwriting credits, following the successful legal victory which allowed her to attach her name to the popular MCU entry, Guardians of the Galaxy co-screenwriter Nicole Perlman said good-bye to her frustrations towards the entire situation by throwing a ‘F–k James Gunn’ party in honor of the eponymous director.
Perlman’s fight for her rightful cosmic Marvel-related credit first began in 2011 when, after penning the script as part of her Marvel Writers Program coursework, the titular studio chose to option her take on Star-Lord and company’s silver screen debut.
However, she would not be the project’s final writer, as after being temporarily brought back on to provide revisions to the script, it would eventually be rewritten by Good Kids director Chris McCoy (whose brief work remains uncredited in the finished film) before being molded into its final form by Gunn himself.
“He did his rewrite and brought all his James Gunn magic to the table,” said Perlman of Gunn’s involvement during a 2014 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “He definitely bumped the humor up and added some characters and deepened the scenes. He did a really great job, and brought his incredible visual style and raunchy humor. He absolutely added some wonderful elements to it.”
But when the film finally hit theaters, Perlman’s name was nowhere to be found, with all screenwriting credits instead going exclusively to Gunn.
And while many, Perlman included, believed she was due some credit for her contributions, Gunn himself believed that he had deviated so far from her original proposal that crediting her was not necessary.
“She definitely got the ball rolling,” the now-head of DC Studios told Buzzfeed. “The original concept was there, that was sort of like what’s in the movie, and then there’s the story and the characters — those were pretty much re-created by me.”
“Really, in Nicole’s script everything is pretty different,” he further explained in a separate interview with Film Divider. “I mean the story is different, there’s no Walkman, the character arcs are different, it’s not about the same stuff. But that’s how the WGA works. They like first writers an awful lot.”
Unsurprisingly, Perlman refused to let that stand, and citing the Writers Guild of America’s own rule declaring that “Any writer whose work represents a contribution of more than 33% of an adapted screenplay shall be entitled to screenplay credit,” proceeded to take Gunn and Marvel to arbitration in order to receive her credit.
In the end, the WGA sided with the screenwriter, and as such, Guardians of the Galaxy now officially lists Perlman as a co-screenwriter on all official documents.
However, while Perlman exercised professionalism and kept her emotions out of the public spotlight, that did not mean the screenwriter felt indifferent to her being shafted.
In their newly-released retrospective MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, authors Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and Gavin Edwards recall that according to Perlman’s friend Zack Stentz, “Nicole had to knife-fight for her credit on Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“But she is probably the preeminent female action tentpole writer now because she was the first woman to have her name on not just a Marvel movie, but on a Marvel movie that people really love,” said the Thor co-writer. “She threw a party when the movie came out literally called the ‘F–k James Gunn’ party because she had won that very bruising credit arbitration.”
“The thing that I’m still angry about, and I say this as a fan of James Gunn as a director, was that he very clearly was selectively leaking stuff to his friends and the fanboy media circles to undermine her credit,” he added. “When Matthew Vaughn decided to have a temper tantrum over the fact that we got screen credit [on X-Men: First Class], at least he did it under his own name.”