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SYFY WIRE James Gunn

James Gunn, a director of honor, explains why you won't ever catch him critiquing bad movies online

By Josh Weiss

Just because James Gunn asked Warner Bros. to direct a movie about some of the most despicable characters in the DC Universe, it doesn't mean the celebrated filmmaker shares any heinous personality traits with Harley Quinn or Peacemaker. It's actually quite the opposite.

The writer/director, who rocketed to super-stardom with Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, highlighted his respect for other cinematic storytellers over the weekend with a tweet in which he explained why fans will never catch him talking trash about sub-par movies on social media. Of course, Gunn, one of the high-profile figures in the world of entertainment, is held to a higher standard than most people who don't work in the "biz."

Bad-mouthing other people's work in Hollywood could permanently damage important professional connections that are so imperative to succeeding in the industry. But he's not living in an Orwellian bubble that discourages freedom of speech — so long as he's in private or discussing a filmmaker who is no longer with us, then Gunn feels he can speak his mind.

"Movies are hard to make and too many people put every ounce of themselves into films that still don’t turn out well for me to publicly denigrate them (at dinner parties and the work of dead filmmakers are a different story for me)," he wrote in response to post by Silent Night director, Steven C. Miller. "By the way, this is my rule as a filmmaking professional. That doesn’t mean I think all of you shouldn’t or can’t talk about movies you don’t like."

Of course, Gunn isn't opposed to constructive feedback when he asks for it. "Professional filmmakers get thousands of criticisms upon a film's release. It's unavoidable. I don't need friends calling and piling on with their own ideas ... when I don't ask," he said. "This isn't to say I don't hardcore ask for the opinions of professionals and others in screenings before I finish a film. I'm vigilant and as courageous as I can be with what the truth of a film's appeal is. I don't deny a film's failings. And I don't surround myself with 'Yes' people."

That said, the director was able to finish his latest movie, The Suicide Squad, without any tweaks or reshoots.

The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max Friday, Aug. 6. Gunn is currently up in Canada shooting a spinoff TV series about John Cena's Peacemaker. After that, he'll return to Marvel Studios (after being briefly fired nearly three years ago) for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and a Guardians holiday special.