Aside from Joss Whedon, James Gunn is the only other filmmaker to move from the Marvel Cinematic Universe over to the DC Extended Universe. However, Gunn — as he was quick to mention during a recent conversation with The New York Times — is the very first Marvel alumnus to receive an explicit directing credit on a blockbuster DC project at Warner Bros.
While Gunn definitely enjoys telling stories in both comic book universes and would never choose one over the other, he did admit to a strong affinity for DC. Mainly due to some of the publisher's bolder storylines, as well as WB's commitment to director-driven projects that can get weird and aren't super focused on setting up sequels, spinoffs, and team-ups (the rush to get Justice League into theaters put a lot of that business to bed).
"I do find, because of the ability to do different stuff in the DC multiverse, it’s fun. They’re starting to really resemble their comic books," he told the Times. "The Marvel Universe has always been a little more cohesive, and DC has always had more great single runs. They had The Dark Knight Returns. They had Watchmen. They had The Killing Joke. They had Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. The fact that they did Joker, which is a totally different type of movie, that to me is cool. I’m very excited about Matt’s movie [The Batman]. They’re getting some really good filmmakers involved. They’re always going to be hit or miss — I just don’t want them to get boring."
Now, compare that to Marvel Studios, where Kevin Feige holds a great deal more creative control over every single piece of content — from features to TV shows. His ability to make critical changes or veto ideas for the sake of a homogenized universe has led to some highly-publicized disagreements over the years with individuals like Whedon, Edgar Wright, and Scott Derrickson.
"There’s no doubt Kevin Feige is way more involved with editing than people are at Warner Bros. He gives more notes. You don’t have to take them and I don’t always take them," Gunn explained.
On The Suicide Squad, Gunn was given full reign, with the freedom to kill off any character he liked. Production wrapped up last March without any need for reshoots. "The movie is mine from start to finish," he tweeted in April of this year. It's also the biggest thing he's ever done, requiring the most amount of practical sets ever constructed for any Warner Bros. film in the studio's history.
"I wanted it to be its own thing completely," Gunn said. "When Warner Bros. said they wanted me to do this, I watched the first movie for the first time, and I called them back and said, 'What do I have to keep from this movie?' And they said, 'Nothing.' They said, listen, 'We would love it if Margot’s in the movie but she doesn’t have to be. You could come up with all new characters or you could keep all the same characters.'"
Go behind-the-scenes of the intensive shoot in the new featurette below:
The Suicide Squad drops into theaters and onto HBO Max Friday, Aug. 6.