Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the top grossing movies of summer 2014, and owes much of its success to the Marvel Cinematic Universe established in previous films. So it was more than a little bit ironic to see director James Gunn blast Hollywood’s fad to plan share world universes. Is this a veiled shot at Warner Bros’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, and other DC Comic movies?
Gunn admits his love of shared universes and big franchises in a Facebook post titled, “Carts Before Horses & Hollywood’s New Love of Shared Universes.” Given the success of Guardian of the Galaxy, he definitely should. However, he goes on to say, “I’m a little worried about the numerous shared universes being planned by the studios, without having a strong base film to grow from – or in some cases, NO base film to grow from.”
He uses Star Wars, Iron Man, Batman Begins, Transformers, and Twilight as examples of films that were strong films on their own that grew into franchises. I’m not so sure about Twilight due to it being based off a series of books, but he is correct about the rest. Each started as a single film with the creators with creator hoping to be successful enough to maybe make more movies.
“[T]hese days studios are trying to grow trees without a strong seed. Execs and producers and sometimes even directors are focused on the big picture, without perfecting the task directly in front of them – making a great movie,” Gunn wrote. “And studios are trying to grow franchises from non-existent films or middling successes. It’s like they aren’t taking audiences into account at all anymore.”
The directors of each of the films he mentioned made each of their first films like it was their last, according to Gunn. They had self-contained stories that didn’t go out of their way to set up the universes as a result. That famous post-credit scene in Iron Man was a gamble by Marvel, who had only begun discussing creating a larger universe.
“In short, I think this new business model is flawed,” Gunn continued. “I think filmmakers and studios should be prepared for the big picture, but never, ever let it get in the way of making a single great film. Be a little more experimental and see what works as opposed to trying to force success. And mostly, remember that we as an industry exist to serve the audiences, to communicate with them – they have a voice in what we create as well. We are not here to dictate what they want to see, mostly because that’s simply not possible.”
Could Gunn be obliquely referencing the DC Comic competition with this post? As Inquisitr reported, Warner Bros. announced an entire slate of films based off its films with no guarantee that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will even live up to the amount of hype it has generated. Yes, Man of Steel was a stand-alone film, but it falls in the “middling” success category with a mere 55 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The box office take for the second Superman reboot was successful, however, with more than $600 million earned worldwide.
Still, Gunn could be referring to other franchises as well. There’s Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films that were planned as multi-part films from the start. There’s also Hunger Games, Maze Runner, The Amazing Spider-Man, and even a new cinematic universe featuring Universal’s monsters including Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy.
Do you agree or disagree with Gunn’s assessment with Hollywood’s new obsession with cinematic universes? Sound off in the comments below.
[Images via James Gunn Facebook, Latino Review]