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James Gunn is the prolific filmmaker behind some of today’s most notable pop culture content and the Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DC Studios alongside Peter Safran.
Gunn’s film and television credits include the Warner Bros. feature “The Suicide Squad,” Marvel’s entire “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, the Emmy-nominated HBO Max television series “The Peacemaker,” cult classic features “Slither,” “Super,” and many more. Most recently, Gunn wrote and directed the third and final “Guardians” feature, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which was released on May 5, 2023. At the end of its opening weekend, the film exceeded its global expectations and had earned a whopping total of $289.3 million from international and domestic audiences and just recently passed $835 million worldwide ahead of its digital release.
On the filmmaking side, Gunn is next writing and directing the feature “Superman: Legacy,” which will be released in theaters on July 2025.
In 2021, Gunn brought his trademark sensibilities to the Warner Bros. feature film “The Suicide Squad”, which he wrote and directed. The film starred Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, and Joel Kinnaman reprising their roles from the DC franchise as well as a new group of characters led by Idris Elba, John Cena, Peter Capaldi, Alice Braga, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Mayling Ng, Steve Agee, Flula Borg, Storm Reid, Sean Gunn, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Pete Davidson, and more.
Based on John Cena’s popular character in “The Suicide Squad,” Gunn created, wrote, and directed “The Peacemaker,” a spinoff series for HBO Max. The show debuted on January 13, 2022 to rave reviews and garnered an Emmy nomination. Gunn carefully curated the soundtrack for the series, which has been praised by critics and was highlighted in the viral dance sequence from the show’s opening credits.
In 2014, Gunn brought to life what is now one of the most memorable franchises in the Marvel Universe, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Gunn wrote and directed both “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which have earned a combined 1.5 billion dollars at the global box office. The original was the second highest grossing film of 2014 and spent five weekends atop the charts, a record in Marvel history. The franchise has garnered impressive reviews from film critics around the world, won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Action Movie and was nominated for three Academy Awards, two Grammys, two BAFTAs, seven MTV Movie Awards and two People’s Choice Awards, amongst many others. Gunn was personally nominated for a WGA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2014.
Knowing what an important role music plays in a movie, Gunn personally chose every song included in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” film soundtracks. The albums, Awesome Mix Vol. 1 and Awesome Mix Vol. 2, featured pop songs from the 1960’s & 70’s and were highly praised by critics as being a secondary character in the film that serves as its emotional core. Awesome Mix Vol. 1 is the first soundtrack comprised entirely of previously released songs to ever reach the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts. Vol. 1 went on to become certified Platinum status; Vol. 2 finished 2017 as the country’s eighth highest-selling album with 600,000 copies sold, and has been certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Gunn began his career at the age of twelve by making a zombie movie with an eight-millimeter camera and an actor, his brother Sean. Gunn got his start in the industry while attending Columbia University. He applied for a part-time job filing papers at famed B-movie studios Troma Entertainment, and was paid $150 to write the screenplay for the feature “Tromeo & Juliet” instead. In 1997, “Tromeo” became a cult hit, playing in theaters around the world, including over a year of midnight screenings in Los Angeles.
Gunn left Troma to write and star in (along with Rob Lowe, Thomas Haden-Church, and Jamie Kennedy) the 2000 feature film, “The Specials,” about a group of superheroes on their day off. In the same year, Bloomsbury Press released Gunn’s critically acclaimed novel “The Toy Collector,” the story of a hospital orderly who sells drugs to finance his escalating toy collecting addiction. He also wrote, with Lloyd Kaufman, the non-fiction book “All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger,” currently in its fifth printing.
In 2004, Gunn wrote the live action “Scooby-Doo” movie which grossed over $300 million worldwide. He became the first screenwriter in history to write back-to-back hits standing at #1 at the weekend box office, with the critically-acclaimed and re-imagined “Dawn of the Dead” on March 19, 2004 and “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” on March 26, 2004.
Gunn’s love for the comedy and horror genres coalesced in his feature film directorial debut, “Slither,” which he also wrote. The film was released by Universal in 2006 and stars Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks. “Slither” is featured on Rotten Tomatoes as one of the “Top Ten All–Time Best Reviewed Horror Films,” was named “The Best Horror film of 2006” by Rue Morgue Magazine, and garnered Gunn a Saturn Award and a Fangoria Chainsaw Award for his work on the film.
Additionally, in 2010, Gunn directed the independent feature film, “Super” starring Rainn Wilson, Elliot Page, Liv Tyler, and Kevin Bacon. It is the dark and comedic tale of a disturbed man who dresses up as a superhero to save his ex-wife from her drug-dealing new boyfriend. “Super” was an official selection at the Toronto Film Festival, was picked up by IFC Films, and is IFC’s top selling film ever on On-Demand.
In 2012 Gunn released his first video game, Lollipop Chainsaw, with Suda 51 and Warner Bros, on Xbox and Playstation 3. In 2008 he created Xbox Live’s first original content, producing seven comedy shows by horror directors, and creating his own, “Sparky & Mikaela.” Gunn’s additional credits include hosting the reality show Scream Queens for VH1 and writing and directing the comedy web series PG Porn, which has received over 70 million hits online, has been remade by Canal+ in France, and is one of the most profitable web series of all time.
In 2019, Gunn produced the drama/thriller, “Brightburn” starring Elizabeth Banks for Sony and produced the horror feature “The Belko Expirement” starring John Gallager Jr. and Tony Goldwyn for Orion Pictures.