James Gunn is a director, screenwriter, and movie producer based in LA. He is most known for his work writing and directing the blockbuster films, Guardians of the Galaxy, Suicide Squad, and the HBO MAX show, Peacemaker.
James Gunn was born on August 5, 1966 in St. Louis, Missouri into a large Irish Catholic family. His father, James F. Gunn, was an attorney. Together with his mother, Leota, they raised him and his five siblings in the St. Louis area. As one of six children, he spent much of his early life reading comic books and making zombie movies with his brothers on his 8mm film camera. He attended high school at Jesuit St. Louis University High school.
When he graduated in 1984, he attended Loyola University Marymount’s film school in Los Angeles, leaving to spend time writing music with his band, The Icons. While playing and writing with his band, he simultaneously wrote comics for several underground and college publications. Ultimately, Gunn returned to academia, completing his undergrad at the University of St. Louis, after which he earned his Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University.
James Gunn’s career began in 1995 when he wrote Tromeo and Juliet for Troma Entertainment. It was during his job at Troma that Gunn met Lloyd Kaufman, who became his mentor and with whom he developed his skills in not only screenwriting and editing but also the ins and outs of film production. Much of his breadth of talent as a creator can be attributed to his time learning under Kaufman.
During his time at Troma, Gunn wrote The Specials, a comedy about superheroes starring Rob Lowe. However, it wasn’t until 2002 with the release of Scooby Doo, a successful motion picture written by Gunn, that his career officially took off. Gunn’s movie releases came in quick succession after that, with the 2004 releases of Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Dawn of the Dead, and Lollilove. In 2006, he released Slither, his first horror movie since childhood and one that was rated one of the 50 best rated horror movies by Rotten Tomatoes.
Over the next few years, Gunn wrote for alternative media outlets, releasing his horror movie Sparky and Mikaela on Xbox live in December of 2008. Around the same time, James Gunn’s PG Porn was released as a web series on Spike TV. In the same year, Gunn was a judge on Scream Queens, a VH1 show developed as a game show to choose an actress for Saw VI.
In 2010, Gunn returned to the world of movies with his movie, Super, a dark comedy about a divorcee who takes vigilante justice into his own hands. This was also the year that Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy adventure began, as he co-wrote and directed the first movie in the Marvel Studio series that year, which was released in August 2014. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies would be Gunn’s focus for the next few years as he was hired to write and direct the next two films in 2017 and 2018, respectively. His work on these movies also earned him his job rewriting Suicide Squad after its original writer left due to scheduling issues.
James Gunn has several well-earned awards for his movies, the most notable coming from his work with the blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy series. In 2015, the first volume of the trilogy won Best Action Film from the Critics’ Choice Awards, Hollywood Film Awards Blockbuster Of The Year award, Best Adapted Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America Awards, and several Saturn Awards.
With his impressive filmography, extensive experience, and obvious talent in multiple areas, James Gunn’s career success does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Fans around the globe are already waiting on bated breath for the 2021 release of The Suicide Squad, a follow up to Suicide Squad, and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3. It seems that his fan base is only growing, and the world can’t wait to see what dark comedy, gore-filled, or superhero saga he comes up with next.