James Gunn is doing something very few storytellers get to do. He gets to make projects that are deeply weird and personal to him, with the issues he’s pondering at the time. That in and of itself isn’t that unique, since that’s the core tenant of art. What’s special and unique, that separates him from the pack, is that he’s able to do it on an epic canvas, within the frame of mainstream entertainment. Whether it’s the Guardians of the Galaxy films, The Suicide Squad, or now with the television series Peacemaker, he’s really cracked the code. So, when given the chance to talk to Gunn about Peacemaker, I was literally jumping at the chance. We hopped on Zoom for nearly a half hour last week, but now…the conversation comes your way!
Below, you can see my chat with Gunn. He had just wrapped Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which was pretty cool to know in and of itself. He seemed very tickled that I didn’t just drop references to Super, but to his weirdest work, PG Porn. It’s all a part of a really cool and free-wheeling conversation, largely based around Peacemaker, but always finding ways back to the other works. Whether it’s his Marvel outings, The Suicide Squad last year, or even last week on Twitter, we go all over place. It’s quite the discussion, so I’m delighted to share it with you all today.
This here is some of what I said in my rave review of The Suicide Squad last year, which obviously is the genesis of where Peacemaker spun off from:
Wow. For a few weeks now, the buzz had steadily been building that James Gunn had really pulled off something special with The Suicide Squad. Well, now I can add to the chorus of early raves. This is a magnificent achievement, literally as good as it gets for comic book films. Far more than just an R-rated lark in between Guardians of the Galaxy movies, The Suicide Squad represents what you can do with genre when you’re a mad scientist like Gunn is. I remain in shock, not just from how much better it is than you’re prepared for, but how it represents cinematic nirvana. This is, to date, the best that 2021 has to offer.
The Suicide Squad, for what it’s doing, is perfect. For as much as Suicide Squad was a misfire, this hits the bullseye. Not only is it absurdly violent and absolutely hilarious, it beats with the heart of a work that truly cares about its characters. I loved every second of it. Gunn’s choices all pay off, even the ones that seem like long-shots (and especially some of them, even). Ambition, confidence, and just a bit of insanity come together to form a masterpiece. When a giant silly thing is phenomenal, as well as a sentient rat (not to mention a man-eating shark) capturing your imagination, you know you’re in for a one of a kind experience.
For years, filmmaker James Gunn has put his own stamp on whatever he’s made. This, however, feels like the most purely “him” movie to date. The Troma indebted early work of Slither and Super merges with the scale of the Guardians of the Galaxy flicks, forming something glorious. Gunn not only relishes the gore quotient that he’s allowed here, he also imbues it all with heart. For as gory as this is, it also loves the characters and makes them all memorable. Plus, the cinematography from Henry Braham and the score by John Murphy are better than you’d expect. Braham and Gunn in particular are able to craft some really unusual and even beautiful shots.
Here now is my interview with Peacemaker writer/director and A-list filmmaker James Gunn. Enjoy:
Peacemaker is currently streaming on HBO Max!