James Gunn Calls Modern Superhero Movies Lazy

James Gunn says there aren't too many superhero movies, but that there are too many created with laziness and without heart.

By Robert Scucci | Updated

james gunn dc superman

It’s safe to say that there are more superhero movies now than there have ever been before. On a recent episode of Inside of You With Michael Rosenbaum, DC co-CEO James Gunn aired out some grievances over how studios seem to only care about quantity rather than quality these days, and he hopes to fix that as he builds out the new DC Universe.

Citing a lack of heart, and laziness as his primary sources of frustration with the superhero genre, Gunn makes it clear that the DC team isn’t going to “overextend’ by over-saturating the market, but rather make sure that they’re putting out quality properties that people care about.

Specifically addressing the subject of oversaturation, James Gunn said:

“But I think that what’s happened is, people have gotten really lazy with their superhero stories. And they have gotten to the place where, ‘Oh, it’s a superhero, let’s make a movie about it’… and they aren’t thinking about, ‘Why is this story special? What makes this story stand apart from other stories? … What makes this story different that it fills a need for people in theaters to go see? Or on television?”

-James Gunn

James Gunn did not parse his words when he stated that the problem with a lot of superhero properties is that they don’t seem geared toward telling a compelling story, but instead try to focus on setting up for a sequel instead of making the first film special in its own right. In a way, thinking too far ahead can become a self-defeating prophecy.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that just focusing on the now, and telling a superhero story that people are actually interested, and emotionally invested in is how franchises perform well in the long run.

Most specifically, James Gunn pointed out that a lot of the newer superhero movies end up being hamfisted by the third act because the storytelling doesn’t support the climactic concluding action sequences that the first and second acts build up to.

In other words, we’re seeing action for action’s sake, but we could see so much more if these properties spent a little more time finessing the narrative instead of telling the same story, but with a different suit and title.

In an effort to put out more compelling properties on the television and cinematic front, James Gunn has decided to be more deliberate in his storytelling and world-building as he develops the new DC Universe alongside Peter Safran.

One such deliberate measure is to space out future releases in a way that allows audiences to enjoy the franchise reboot when it launches, but also not be bombarded with too much content too quickly.

Given what we currently know about the new DC Universe’s release slate, it’s safe to say that James Gunn is going to be a man of his word and put a strong emphasis on quality over quantity.

The new DC Universe will officially kick off on the cinematic front with 2025’s Superman: Legacy. It’s also been announced that we’ll see the first small-screen treatment in this universe with Creature Commandos, which is scheduled for a 2024 release.

The latter will be the title that ultimately kicks off Chapter One: Gods and Monsters of the new DC slate.

Considering that James Gunn is a seasoned pro, we can only hope that his current grievances with superhero movies and TV series will translate into some of the best properties that have yet to be released.

Now that his tenure with Marvel Studios has concluded with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, he can fully pivot his focus to DC Studios. Gunn wants to make sure that “everything is as good as it can possibly be,” and we can’t wait to pick up what he’s planning to throw down.