With the third and seemingly final Guardians of the Galaxy movie upon us, fans are looking toward the future of James Gunn. With his Marvel days behind him, James has his sights on the DC Universe. While fans eagerly await what he does with DC, they are looking back on his career with fondness. From silly B-movies to nostalgic remakes, it seems like James has dipped his toes in many different genres throughout his career. Today, we will be taking a look at some of his best films that showcase how versatile James is as a filmmaker.
10. Scooby-Doo (2002)
For many fans of a certain age, the live-action Scooby-Doo movie is one of the most nostalgic films from their childhood. What many fans may not realize, however, is James Gunn is responsible for the script. While he didn’t direct it, he did pen the script, and his DNA is all over it. In his early days, James worked for the Troma company. While there, he has responsible for plenty of darker and gross-out humor. This type of humor is prevalent in this script, as well as the close team dynamic he would later perfect in the Guardians trilogy. Originally, this movie was to be a bit more adult, and fans hope James returns for a third film to bring this original vision to life.
9. The Specials (2000)
Before bringing Guardians of the Galaxy to life or co-running DC Studios, James had a more humble superhero beginning. The Specials is a superhero movie that satirizes how these movies were overly marketed and franchised. A group of less-than-stellar superheroes in a world full of remarkable heroes find their place in the world. The movie didn’t do great when it was first released. In many ways, it was ahead of its time. While comic book movies were always huge sellers. The MCU turned it into an entire business. If the script had been tweaked a bit and released later, it would have been a hit parody.
8. The Belko Experiment (2016)
While Gunn is now mostly known for his work in the superhero genre, he also has quite a few horror movies under his belt. Written by James, The Belko Experiment follows a group of office workers who are locked in their building. They are told that in order to get out alive, a set number of people must die. This leads the workers to desperately fight for survival as they fight off their co-workers. This is a dark comedy reminiscent of Gunn’s earlier works at Troma. The Belko Experiment was quietly released without a ton of fanfare, but it seems as if more and more fans discover it daily.
7. Slither (2006)
Ten years before Belko, James Gunn made another horror movie that was better received. Written and directed by Gunn, Slither is a dark comedy masquerading as a serious horror movie. This fun creature feature harkens back to the B-movies that inspired James into becoming a filmmaker. A parasitic alien lands in a rural town and begins to kill locals. Once they are killed, they are added to the creature’s hivemind. In addition to Gunn’s trademark wit and some genuinely scary moments, what really makes Slither stand out are the effects. Todd Masters created the incredible special effects and deserves far more mainstream attention than he gets.
6. Super (2010)
Four years before officially joining the genre with Guardians of the Galaxy, James made Super. Super is yet another superhero movie that satirizes the genre as much as celebrates it. Rainn Wilson plays a cook with aspirations of being a crime fighter. While possessing no powers, he suits up in a homemade suit and calls himself Crimson Bolt. When his daughter is kidnapped, he puts his self-taught skills to the test to get her back. The movie showcases the importance of family in a way James excels at. The rumor is top-notch, and it obviously isn’t very effects-heavy. For a movie with James’ trademark charm with hints of films like Kick-Ass, Super is a great low-budget film to check out.
5. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The word remake is a naughty word in many film circles, especially horror. When mentioning the few good remakes, Dawn of the Dead is usually brought up. Based on George Romaro’s legendary zombie movie, Dawn follows a group of people attempting to shelter themselves from the zombie apocalypse in a mall. The movie was written by James and directed by Zach Snyder. This brings two of the most unique styles in Hollywood in a great horror movie. The film serves as a straight horror movie while still having shades of Gunn’s humor sprinkled in. With great effects and tense moments, it is no surprise how this has become one of the best zombie movies.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
This is the film that catapulted James Gunn into the mainstream. Prior to 2015, most casual fans had never heard of this ragtag superhero team. As soon as the movie was released, they became as well-known as any Marvel character. Peter Quill travels the stars as Star-Lord. After being arrested, he must rely on the help of others in order to escape. Soon, this team of misfits is targeted by a deadly conqueror. They must put their differences aside and work together to take him out. This movie helped turn several actors into A-listers, as well as prove that lesser-known characters can headline blockbuster movies.
3. The Suicide Squad (2021)
James’ first foray into the DC Universe was with The Suicide Squad. This film is a loose sequel to the similarly named Suicide Squad from 2016. The tone is far different, however. This gritty comedy harkens back to the military movies made throughout the 70s and 80s. The main cast is made of characters that were mostly unknown to mainstream audiences. This once again proves how Gunn can take lesser-known characters and show them respect, something fans hope he continues in the DCU. With a spin-off series on HBO Max and a sequel ready in the distant future, it is clear James knows how to assemble teams of misfits.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017)
For many, the second Guardians movie outshines the original in nearly every aspect. Fatherhood is the key theme this time around, as Star-Lord meets his biological father for the first time. Named Ego, Peter learns his father is actually a cosmic god, making Peter a demigod. He soon learns his father has seriously sinister motives and longs for galactic conquest. Peter must rely on his newfound powers and his team in order to take out Ego and realize who his true father has been this whole time. This movie is funny, action-packed, and full of heart. James Gunn really went all out with this film, and fans think one more movie outshines it.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 (2023)
The final movie James Gunn will make for Marvel Studios is shaping up to be his best. The third movie in the Guardians trilogy will, according to marketing, be the final movie to feature this iteration of the team. Rocket is the main focus this time around, and his past will finally be explored. The movie has quickly become known as Gunn’s greatest film. While being filled with the franchise’s trademark humor, it is also filled with the most hart the MCU has seen to date. Knowing James is proving on from Marvel is sad, but seeing the films he made ensures he is leaving behind a fantastic legacy.