Director James Gunn Talks Super and Movies About Superheroes with No Powers
09.18.10 by Ryan
James Gunn is known amongst horror fans for writing the screenplay for 2004's Dawn of the Dead, directing 2006's Slither and stealing producer Brian Grazer's haircut, but this year sees Gunn expand his reputation to the comic book world with Super, which follows Rainn Wilson as a short order cook who decides to become a superhero when his wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon). The movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, where IFC picked up the distribution rights, ending Gunn's long history with Super, one he explained to SuperHeroHype began in 2003.
This was a script I wrote in 2003. It was gonna be a short film and I just kept writing and it got long, that's all. So I fell in love with the script. It was something I really wanted to tell. I had producers back in 2005, Chuck Roven, who produced The Dark Knight, and I even had backing. I had a lot more money for the movie at that time too from this other company, but we couldn't agree on a lead actor.
It wasn't Gunn who eventually thought of Wilson, however.
About a year and a half ago, my ex-wife Jenna Fisher called me and she's like, "What are you doing with Super? That's my favorite screenplay you've ever written. I really want to see that movie. I want you to make that movie." She said, "Have you ever thought about Rainn for the lead character?" I said, "That makes sense, it just, it clicks."
Super's story sounds pretty familiar, and for those that saw Defendor or Kick-Ass will recall that both movies use the "regular guy who become a super hero" storyline. It's a reality that Gunn is aware of.
I knew about it. [Kick-Ass comic book writer] Mark [Millar] and I are email buddies. I was gonna do a project with Marvel for a while and Mark was very helpful in facilitating that. He was the one, I think, who introduced me to Marvel and I just didn't have the time to do the project. I kept getting sucked up in things, but I still would like to do it. But, Mark was like, "I read your treatment for this thing. It's awesome." He's like, "What else are you working on?" I said, "Well, I'm working on this movie called Super," because I had the other producers attached at the time. "It's a story of a guy without powers and blah, blah, blah, blah." Mark wrote back and he's like, "Oh, f**k. I'm writing a comic book. It's about a kid who blah, blah, blah." I'm like, "Uh oh."
It doesn't help that Super has Ellen Page as a character who is "in it for one thing and that's for beating people up and putting on a costume somehow instantly makes that right" (as evidenced in the recently released clip), which sounds eerily close to Kick-Ass's Hit-Girl character. But Gunn still doesn't feel that similarities matter.
Well, here's the thing. There's 3,000 bank heist movies. I think the movie could live with four superhero movies of guys without super powers. I don't think that they're exclusive of one another. I think they're very different. So ours is a little darker and he's an adult. I think Mark's a great guy and a completely talented guy, and it's something that comes up in conversations like this, but at the end of the day, it makes absolutely no difference to anything.
Super will be released in limited release later this year.