‘Guardians’ Director James Gunn Warns Hollywood About Too Many Shared Universes

By November 21, 2014
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When Iron Man premiered in 2008, a successful cinematic universe had never been successfully achieved before. Marvel Studios was breaking new ground by introducing characters like Thor and Captain America in later films, with the ultimate plan to feature them all in one giant crossover film down the road. It was obviously a success, as The Avengers was one of the highest grossing films of 2012, and its sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron, is one of the most hotly anticipated movies of 2015.

Movie studios are nothing if not very reactionary to a trend that seems to be profitable. In that vein, a lot of other entities are trying to make efforts to create shared cinematic universes with the hopes of creating bigger franchises down the road. James Gunn, who wrote and directed Marvel Studios’ latest addition to its universe in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy, shared some cautionary words about this trend, which he seems to feel is both alarming and disconcerting. In a post to his personal Facebook page, Gunn expressed concern about the efforts of some studios to create shared universes out of thin air, with very little basis on any previously established popular mythology.

…These days studios are trying to grow trees without a strong seed. 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. And studios are trying to grow franchises from non-existent films or middling successes. It’s like they aren’t taking audiences into account at all anymore.

[…]In short, I think this new business model is flawed. I think filmmakers and studios should be prepared for the big picture, but never, ever let it get in the way of making a single great film. Be a little more experimental and see what works as opposed to trying to force success. And mostly, remember that we as an industry exist to serve the audiences, to communicate with them – they have a voice in what we create as well. We are not here to dictate what they want to see, mostly because that’s simply not possible.

This is definitely an interesting perspective coming from a creative mind who helped form a chapter of a shared cinematic universe with a previously established mythology, and hopefully, some studios will heed his advice. Chances are that if a studio sinks a lot of money into the idea of a new shared universe that has little or no previous basis to attach itself to, then it might be money wasted. Really, we all know how much Hollywood hates doing that.

Gunn has stated that he’s already hard at work developing Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which will be released on May 5th, 2017.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.