There isn’t a high-profile filmmaker in the industry who hasn’t suffered at least one box office disappointment, with James Gunn’s biggest folly comfortably being The Suicide Squad, although the comic book adaptation’s performance was significantly hampered by the effects of the pandemic.
Releasing an R-rated superhero blockbuster armed with a budget of $185 million into theaters when business was still on its knees was never destined to end well, especially when HBO Max subscribers could watch the film from the comfort of their own homes on the very same day it arrived on the big screen.
Needless to say, the return of Task Force X in the hybrid of sequel and soft reboot cratered spectacularly by failing to come close to recouping its hefty production costs, yielding a massive loss for Warner Bros. in the process. Of course, because Gunn is now the co-CEO of DC Studios, and after a new report revealed he plans to dismantle the entire universe, furious fans are using his failures as a means to try and prove he isn’t qualified for the top job.
To counter the argument that Gunn isn’t overly qualified, you only really need to look at a certain Kevin Feige, who was a production assistant on Tom Hanks rom-com You’ve Got Mail working under Lauren Shuler Donner in the late 1990s. Her husband and legendary director Richard was impressed with the enthusiastic upstart’s knowledge of the Marvel mythology, and ended up drafting him in to lend an assist on X-Men. Five years later, he was in charge of an entire studio.
We all know how it turned out in the end for Feige, so it’s not as if The Suicide Squad tanking in epic fashion is any barometer of proving Gunn’s suitability for his current boardroom gig.