Part of the excitement generated by James Gunn’s appointment as co-CEO of DC Studios stemmed from his reputation as an auteur who can elevate comic book movies into something a little more artistic. Even though he’s played in both the Marvel and DC sandboxes, he brings signature touches like his sense of humor and killer needle drops to every project he touches.
The first plans that Gunn and his partner Peter Safran have unveiled for their new cinematic universe hint at something more creatively ambitious than Warner Bros. Discovery’s most recent superhero efforts. And while we won’t truly know what their vision entails until the Gunn-directed “Superman: Legacy” kicks things off in 2025, Gunn certainly seems to be taking the job seriously.
In a new interview with GQ, Gunn was asked to rank his top five comic book movies of all time. While the list included predictable picks including “Superman” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Gunn also pointed out that the comic book genre encompasses far more than just superheroes.
He singled out Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy” as one of the best examples of the genre, noting that he was initially unaware that the film was based on a comic book (in this case, a Japanese manga by Garon Tsuchiya).
“He reinvented action and really ushered in the new era of Korean cinema, which has continued to this day,” Gunn said of the film. “They probably still make the best action movies in the world. But as a movie, it’s just incredibly cinematic, incredibly colorful, really gross but also beautiful. And shocking in the end…it works on every level.
Gunn also singled out David Cronenberg’s “A History of Violence,” adapted from the graphic novel by Josh Wagner and Vince Locke, as an example of what’s possible in the comic book genre.
“When I saw ‘A History of Violence’, I too, like ‘Oldboy’, didn’t know it was based on anything. I didn’t know it was based on a novel and I definitely didn’t know it was based on comics,” he said. “I just saw it as a movie in itself, so it didn’t have to measure up to anything, it didn’t have to top anything. it was just a great movie in and of itself.
For more Gunn recommendations, check out IndieWire’s updated list of his favorite movies.