Timeline: James Gunn’s long and winding road from Troma to the top of DC Studios
James Gunn has said that his path to success on the big screen began with the underground cult film Tromeo and Juliet. The movie, a surreal romantic comedy, earned a cult following and the filmmakers made a documentary on its making, which aired on Adult Swim, and Gunn said that the experience inspired a desire to make his own film. He then wrote the script for the short film, Tromeo and Juliet.
The following year, Gunn was approached by David Koepp, who directed Gulliver’s Travels, and who had the idea to film him trying to make a feature film with a budget of $1 million and a cast of 20. The result was Gunn’s short film, Troma, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and is now considered a classic cult film.
Gunn said that Tromeo and Juliet inspired him to see what other independent filmmakers had in their arsenal. He went to UCLA to study film, but after working on Tromeo and Juliet and becoming inspired by their approach to filmmaking, and meeting the filmmaker Judd Apatow, Gunn was inspired by his own work to follow in their footsteps in 2012, when he began making his first feature film, Super. The film, which Gunn financed through crowd-funding, took Gunn five years to complete and was his first foray into the superhero genre.
After Super, Gunn focused his attention elsewhere, working on his next two features – 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man and 2015’s The Ten Commandments – before going back to film school, this time focusing on directing. The Ten Commandments, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, was his first feature as a director. It was also his first project to be released through Disney, which owns both DC Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment.
In 2014, Gunn and DC Comics announced a deal in which the two companies would produce a series of animated Marvel and DC films. After years of work, Gunn’s plan was to release the series in 2017, which would have been his last film directing job before turning 47.
He said that the deal worked out in good faith with the both companies, though it didn’t exactly work out in his other plans, because he couldn’t find the time to make Spider-Man 3. Though Spider-Man 3 was made, it was a major disappointment