Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
Variety’s Maane Khatchatourian covers James Gunn’s Facebook comments regarding shared movie universe building:
“The director implies that franchises like “Star Wars,” “Iron Man,” “The Dark Knight” and even “Transformers” and “Twilight” are in the clear because they were conceived as single films and only grew into movie series following audience demand. “But these days studios are trying to grow trees without a strong seed,” he wrote. “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.”
Read Gunn’s full comments here.
It is interesting how James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, has criticised the one thing that ensured the success of his film. Of course, had Guardians of the Galaxy been produced by a different studio without the connections to the Marvel universe, it would’ve been considerably less of a smash at the box office – akin to Sci-fi fare The Green Lantern, a film without any connection to the DC Universe established at the time by Chris Nolan and The Dark Knight universe. Of course, that’s not to say one is better than the other, simply that the genre hasn’t had a wall-to-wall success-rate until the Marvel-universe-connected Guardians of the Galaxy.
But I do agree with his sentiments. Why not go further and imagine a world whereby safe blockbuster filmmaking wasn’t the first preference for the current crop of innovative filmmakers. Consider the talents we’ve lost to the ‘universes’ created. Gareth Edwards, creator of Monsters and Godzilla, now attached to a Star Wars spin-off. J.J. Abrams, the man behind 1980’s throwback Super 8, lost to the dark side for the foreseeable future, with two Star Trek films under his belt. Joss Whedon, whose brain concocted the space-western Serenity and Firefly, now glued to the Marvel Universe like a lucky charm they’ll never release until Avengers: Infinity War – Part II is released in May 2019. Intelligent, visionary filmmakers lost to the vacuum of guaranteed box-office explosions.
Imagine if Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Peter Jackson released Duel, THX 1138 and Bad Taste now – would they be wooed by the universe-building safety-net created? Would we even see them dream up Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones? Would they have the confidence to adapt the epic Lord of the Rings and technologically ground-breaking Jurassic Park?
The foundations of our modern era are rooted in the history, boldly created, by influential filmmakers who (without realising perhaps) created a franchise. Someone had to dream up the heroes and mesmerising landscapes that provided our childhood with so many repeated viewings. What would Gareth Edwards, Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams make if they were given the creative freedom to develop their own ideas? Why can’t Marvel and Disney fund these artists creative endeavours? Considering the auteur filmmaking of Christopher Nolan with Interstellar and Inception, a little gamble might set the path for the future – and may change this repetitive rut, once and for all.