While we know and deeply appreciate James Gunn for his contributions to the superhero community in both Marvel and DC, the director has a wealth of other projects just waiting to be tapped into. Luckily, those getting into the spooky season festivities can catch one of the director’s horror features, Slither, as it’s currently streaming on Peacock. Featuring a slew of familiar faces, the genre-crossing title deserves a spot in your queue.
Slither Was James Gunn’s Directorial Debut
The year was 2006, and James Gunn was ready to jump from his solo writing role to a spot behind the camera. While the multi-hyphenated creative had worked on films, including both live-action Scooby-Doo titles and Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, he had done so specifically in a writing capacity, marking Slither as his directorial debut.
Blending sci-fi with horror and a hefty side of comedy, James Gunn’s Slither tells the story of a sleepy town called Wheelsy, a place severely lacking in excitement. That is, until multiple farmers report that their livestock have been mutilated, a terrifying incident that’s followed by the mystery of a missing woman. With no choice but to get to the bottom of the case, Sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) stumbles upon an alien organism that has marked the tiny village as its first stop on a tour of world domination.
Knowing that he’d need a dynamite cast for his premiere feature, James Gunn enlisted the help of such stars as Nathan Fillion (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise), Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy), Gregg Henry (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Tania Saulnier (Smallville).
As MCU fans will notice, a handful of names on the list would later team up with Gunn during his time as the helmer for the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, while others, such as Banks would work with him on films including Brightburn.
Blending sci-fi with horror and a hefty side of comedy, James Gunn’s Slither tells the story of a sleepy town called Wheelsy, a place severely lacking in excitement.
Also appearing in Slither was James Gunn’s then-wife, Jenna Fischer. Most will recognize Fischer for her work on NBC’s fan-favorite comedy, The Office, where she played Pam Beesly. The duo was married in 2000 before divorcing in 2008, with Gunn now being married to actress and frequent collaborator Jennifer Holland.
Although today, it would be hard to imagine one of James Gunn’s films completely bombing at the box office, that was unfortunately the case for Slither. With a production budget of $15 million, the movie’s earnings didn’t even come close to hitting the target, closing its theatrical run with only $12.8 million in sales. Still, the feature has moved on to become a cult favorite, with more Gunn fans checking it out as the director gained popularity.
Bit by the filmmaking bug, James Gunn would continue breaking into that side of the industry with his follow-up title, Super, before breaking into the MCU with 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Soon becoming an indispensable asset to the comic-turned-film franchise, Gunn would return to the fold with two more Guardians features, the latest and trilogy closer, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arriving in theaters last spring.
Also during this time, James Gunn produced two other horror flicks, Belko (which he also wrote) and Brightburn. Taking a break from Marvel between Guardians 2 and 3, he made moves to branch out into the DCEU, helming 2021’s The Suicide Squad.
James Gunn Leads DC
Last year, James Gunn’s career soared to new heights as he and Peter Safran stepped into co-leadership positions at DC Studios. The pair have been tasked with bringing the company out of a box office rut that has only gotten worse since 2022.
With films like Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, and Blue Beetle flopping at the worldwide box office, folks at DC Studios hope to start checking off winners again.
Peter Safran and James Gunn have already proven that they’re not to be underestimated as they’ve axed Henry Cavill as Superman, a role that he appeared in since 2013’s Man of Steel. Moving forward with a new story about Clark Kent, the team is well underway with Superman: Legacy, a film that Gunn is not only writing but will serve as the director for.
If you’re looking to get those spooky, scary vibes building but need a little comedic edge not to be too afraid of anything going bump in the night, check out James Gunn’s directorial debut, Slither, now streaming on Peacock.