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GOTG Vol. 3 Director James Gunn Ranks His Top 5 Comic Book Movies

James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and co-chairman and CEO of DC Studios, ranks his top five comic book movies of all time. From Deadpool to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, James is no stranger to breaking down which superhero adaptions to the big screen make his Top Five list.

Director: Kristen DeVore
Director of Photography: Grant Bell
Editor: Robby Massey
Guest: James Gunn
Producer: Sam Dennis
Line Producer: Jen Santos
Production Manager: Andressa Pelachi
Production Coordinator: Kevin Balash; Kariesha Kidd
Camera Operator: Lucas Vilicich
Sound Mixer: Cassiano Pereira
Production Assistant: Mike Kritzell; Marquis Wooten
Post Production Supervisor: Rachael Knight
Post Production Coordinator: Ian Bryant
Supervising Editor: Rob Lombardi
Additional Editor: Jason Malizia
Assistant Editor: Andy Morell
Graphics Supervisor: Ross Rackin
Designer: Brady Jackson

Released on 05/15/2023


I just got a bunch of pictures

from Warner Brothers' vaults

of the actual original costumes.

I think the costume works really good

and it's just without frills.

Because today, people have seen a lot

of different superhero costumes.

So it's how do you make it look believable?

How do you take this outrageous concept

of a guy who flies around and turn him into something real?

[clapperboard claps] [James claps]

Hey, GQ.

I'm James Gunn, and I'm gonna break down

my top five favorite comic book movies.

[chill music]

I think I'm worth listening to about comic book movies,

simply because I've made so many comic book films

and superhero films.

I've made at least...

Oh my gosh, I don't know how many superhero movies I've made

at this point, something like six or seven.

I guess if you include the movies I've produced

like the Avengers movies, then it's really a lot.

[chill music]

[Deadpool] Oh, hello. I know, right?

Whose balls did I have to fondle to get my very own movie?

I think coming in at number five,

I'm gonna go with Deadpool.

The first Deadpool and the second Deadpool, actually,

are two of my favorite comic book movies.

They came on the heels of the Guardians film.

They were even more of, you know,

comedies in the Guardians films are,

and they were so well-made, so heartfelt and fun,

and Ryan Reynolds just kills it.

I think Deadpool is a perfect adaptation of a comic book,

because the comic book is very much tongue-in-cheek,

very much breaking-the-fourth-wall all the time,

talking to the audience,

and I think the movie does that really well,

but somehow also keeps it more grounded

and gives it a little bit more heart than the comics have.

If you could see me you'd understand.

Looks aren't everything.

Looks are everything. You ever heard David Beckham speak?

It's like he mouth-sexed a can of helium?

You think Ryan Reynold's got this far

on his superior acting method?

Love is blind, Wade.


You're blind.

Ryan's such a funny guy.

I think along with like Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

or Christopher Reeve as Superman,

he's one of the all-time great comic book, you know, icons.

[chill music]

[Mi-do speaking in foreign language]

[suspenseful music]

[baby octopus squelching]

[Dae-su munching]

Number four, I'm going to say Oldboy.

Now a lot of people don't know

that this is a comic book film, but it's based on a manga,

and it's a Korean film.

It reinvented action and it really ushered in the new era

of Korean cinema, which has continued to this day.

They still probably make the best action movies

in the world.

But as a movie, it's just incredibly cinematic,

incredibly colorful,

really kind of gross but also beautiful,

and shocking at the end.

It has real nice twist at the end,

so it works on every level.

[thugs clamoring] [weapons thudding]

[weapons thudding] [thugs screaming]

If there's one scene that sticks out,

it's obviously the hallway fight.

That was a huge inspiration to me.

And you can see our own version

of a hallway fight in Guardians 3.

Different versions of hallway action fights have been great,

whether it's in Oldboy or The Raid,

another great action movie.

We have one in the Suicide Squad, and now in Guardians.

[chill music]

Sorry. Do- do we know each other?

[people murmuring] [tableware clattering]

You tell me.

My third favorite all-time comic book film

is A History of Violence, directed by David Cronenberg.

One of my favorite directors.

I love so many of his films.

From Dead Ringers to Naked Lunch.

But my favorite movie of his

is probably History of Violence.

Viggo Mortensen stars in it.

He's fantastic and it's a really amazing movie

about a guy who's a former killer

who's trying to live this normal life

and gets wrapped up in his past.

When I saw A History of Violence, I also, like Oldboy,

I didn't know this was based on anything.

I didn't know it was adapted from a novel

or especially didn't know it was adopted

from comic books and a graphic novel.

I just saw it as a movie itself,

so it didn't have to live up to anything.

It didn't have to overcome anything.

It was just an amazing movie in and of itself

that's emotional and passionate,

and the violence and the action is shot really well.

I mean I really was influenced by History of Violence.

I was influenced by the way

that it didn't play like an action movie.

You don't look at it and say, Oh, that's an action movie.

But if you watch

the way Cronenberg shoots the action sequences in the movie,

it's really spectacular and really deft.

Do it.

[customer panting]

[object thuds] [customer gasps]

[decanter tinkles] [Leland groans]

[gun clatters]

[Leland thuds] [object clatters]

[gun firing]

[object clattering]

[gun firing]

[glass door tinkles]

I think Cronenberg has a way of turning the world

just slightly to see something really ugly about it,

in a beautiful way, if that makes any sense.

And History of Violence does that.

He just turns this normal American family, just slightly,

and we see into its soul,

and it's not the most beautiful thing in the world.

[chuckles] Of all the wonderful things,

there's a wonderful sex scene in the movie

between Viggo and his wife on the steps

when she discovers...

Like starting to discover who he really is.

I'm not a big sex-scene guy.

I don't take sex scenes apart

in the same way I take action scenes apart.

But I somehow really remember that scene

because it was so raw and so passionate, and so real.

[Tom thuds]

[footsteps pattering]

And usually, sex scenes just seem like,

I'm actually usually waiting for them to be done

or they seem like unnecessary, or just exploited, you know?

So this wasn't like that at all,

this was a real part of the story.

[chill music]

[exciting music]

[revolving door whooshing]

Say, Jim, whoo.

Excuse me.

That's a bad outfit. [Superman whooshing]

Number two, I'm gonna have to go

with a movie that changed my life,

and that's Richard Donner's Superman.

This one is important to me historically,

it's a great movie, but it was also a movie I saw as a kid

that affected my life a lot.

And I remember seeing it at the Peres cinema

in Manchester, Missouri when it was first released.

Strangely, the same exact theater that Jim Lee,

who went on to create so many great comics character,

saw it in St. Louis 'cause we're both from there.

But it was taken up in this movie,

and I remember when I was a child, I had seen Star Wars,

and that was like such a big magical moment for me,

and this was the next big magical movie.

[Superman whooshing] [exciting music]

The hell is that?

[Superman whooshing]

Oh. Easy miss, I've got you.

You- you've got me. Who's got you?

You know, at the time,

they did exactly what we're doing now.

They're going through tons and tons of actors

to see who captures that spirit.

The thing they don't talk about much

when they talk about Christopher Reeve,

they talk about his pureness, his hope, his goodness.

They talk about, you know, the way that he plays Clark

as being so different from the way he plays Superman,

and how he can turn that on in an instant.

But there's this playfulness about Superman,

when he's saving a cat, he's got that wry smile.

[light music] Well. Bye, Frisky.

So long, now.

And that is one of the best parts of the movie

is the playfulness of Superman.

He enjoys what he's doing.

He likes helping human beings and he likes saving them.

They just did the costume from the comics

and they did it very simply, and it works really well.

The colors work well.

I just got a bunch of pictures from Warner Brothers' vaults

of the actual original costumes.

I think the costume works really good

and it's just without frills,

which was easier back then than today,

because today people have seen a lot

of different superhero costumes.

So it's how do you make it look believable?

How do you take this outrageous concept

of a guy who flies around and turn him into something real?

I think that, you know, what we're doing is different.

It's its own thing.

But I'm definitely influenced by what Donner did

with Superman,

and what Christopher Reeve did with Superman,

and Margot Kidder, who's fantastic in the movie.

She's really the heart of it in a lot of ways.

[pensive music] [footsteps pattering]

The Fortress of Solitude is an amazing set.

It's really like the look of it was created

through those Donner Superman movies.

And I think it was a magical location

that wasn't something that we're familiar with,

but that was so well-done and actually built big sets,

and that's influenced me a lot.

We have some of the biggest sets of all time

in The Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3.

It's great to actually have real practical sets

for these strange locations.

So the, you know, actors and the crew

kind of feel what's going on when we're there,

and it just looks better

than having everything be a total CGI-fest.

[chill music]

[comic page rustling]

[Miles] Please keep...

Wait, wait, wait. How could there be two Spider-Man?

There can't be two Spider-Man.

[pensive music]

Can there?

My favorite superhero movie

and my favorite comic book movie is an animated film.

It's Into the Spider-Verse.

This movie works from start to finish.

It does not have a bad beat in it.

The action is amazing. The emotion is amazing.

The voice acting is incredible.

Well-directed, well-written, and I just don't think

that there's been a better superhero movie

than Into the Spider-Verse.

I think that, you know, Into the Spider-Verse

is truly the first, you know, comic book multiverse movie.

They did it in such a balanced and real way.

There weren't a lot of plot holes

like there are in a lot of these multiverse movies.

They thought everything through

and it was just really tight.

And if there's one thing I respect a lot in a screenplay,

in a film, is to be elegant

and to not be doing all this stuff that goes off

from the center of the film.

And it doesn't, it stays pointed the entire time.

Are you from another dimension,

like a parallel universe

where things are like this universe, but different,

and you're Spider-Man in that universe,

but somehow travel to this universe,

but- but you don't know how?

Wow, that was really just a guess?

Being able to see

all these different Spider-Man characters,

Miles Morales and, you know, Peter,

and all the other characters working together in one movie.

It was sort of a dream come true for a kid who loved,

you know, Spider-Man,

as much as I loved Superman and Batman growing up.

I think that Spider-Verse really influenced me

in terms of trying to make high quality animation

that is not secondary.

There is an advantage to these animated films,

because you do plan out everything.

You kind of draw it as you go along.

You don't go on set and film it,

it's costing you millions of dollars,

and then you come back with the footage,

and then you have to see if it works or not.

I think it's one of the reasons why there are so many good,

tight animated films, and more often than not,

they're better than live action films.

Movies that almost made the list were Deadpool 2,

Iron Man, for sure.

V for Vendetta is another one that almost made the list.

Spider-Man: Homecoming, I think, is fantastic.

There were a lot of movies I really loved

that almost made the list, but I had to choose five.

And so, you know, I may wake up tomorrow

and think I made an enormous mistake that I can't take back.

[Interviewer] Can you just give us a quick drop

of the list with your movies in it?

You know, my movies are like my children,

so I can't say one that I like better than the other.

I mean, listen.

With Guardians 1, I was proud of how we did something

that was considered pretty outlandish at the time,

but did it in a mainstream way that spoke

to audiences all over the world.

That was a big accomplishment for me.

For the second movie, I was really proud of how, you know

we really told this story about a, you know,

adoptive father and his son, and how that came together,

and how many people have written me over the years saying,

I finally like forgive my stepfather

for all this whatever they put me through.

It's changed people's relationships

with their family members.

For Suicide Squad, The Suicide Squad,

we really took big risks and big swings,

and did ridiculous things

that I thought was like a much more chaotic approach

to cinema, and I learned a lot through that,

and I personally learned a lot

through how to use a camera on that film.

And then for Guardians 3,

I'm just really proud of the way that we,

you know, really gave each of these characters

the dignity they deserve

and gave them the ending they deserve.

All right, GQ. Thank you very much.

These were my top five favorite comic book movies.

They all might change tomorrow, who knows?

But, thank you very much for joining me

and I'll see you soon.

[chill music]