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James Gunn Standing Up for Gamora Merch Is How We’d Like Him to Advocate for All Women in Film

In the basement post Curse of Oak Island

Posted by James Gunn on Thursday, December 3, 2015

Last night, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn did a Facebook Q&A with fans where he talked about Groot, his relationship with Marvel, and the need for Gamora merchandise (duh). Check out the full Q&A above!

With regard to Gamora, Gunn says that he’s been having conversations regarding how to ensure that Gamora gets included on more merchandise when Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is released:

I had a big conversation about [Gamora merchandising] yesterday with one of my producers at Marvel about trying to make sure, especially that Gamora is represented more in stuff and all the ‘Guardians’ toys, but especially all the clothing and bed sheets and all that stuff. I think it’s really important — that often times it’s something Marvel is concerned with, as I am. It’s frustrating and stuff and so it bums me out.

And if you think that anyone could’ve pulled off the voice of Groot, Gunn has some words for you:

That is bullshit! And I know because I did the voice of Groot, I had other people doing the voice for Groot, we had all sorts of people doing the voice for Groot and Groot did not come alive until Vin Diesel did his voice. Vin is amazing as Groot. I’ll argue to the death with anyone who says he doesn’t make a difference or that it’s a small role. It’s huge what he does for us.

Agreed, yo. He also may have revealed another big name who may be involved with the Guardians sequel (maybe?):

I’m not going to comment yet on John C. Reilly, but I will say we just exchanged e-mails mere seconds ago. I like John C. Reilly.


This is all really cool stuff to hear. I’m especially glad to hear about his commitment to more Gamora merch, as well as an even more diverse cast, as he also mentions during the Q&A.

However, a part of me feels a bit conflicted, because while he seems genuine in his desire to improve with regard to representation, the thing I can’t shake is the concern that he’s also been instrumental in downplaying the contributions of screenwriter Nicole Perlman to the first Guardians of the Galaxy script.

According to a piece in the International Business Times from last year, both Gunn and Marvel have been subtly but efficiently writing Perlman out of the story of that film, despite the fact that she was the origin of the script (she wrote the first draft during her time in the Marvel Writing Program) and was the entire reason why Marvel saw the potential in going ahead with a Guardians film and pursuing Gunn in the first place.

In several interviews, Gunn has taken full credit for the script that made it to the big screen, and in an interview with Film Divider, he downplays her role by basically saying that the only reason she’s been mentioned at all is because she was the first writer:

Really, in Nicole’s script everything is pretty different. I mean the story is different, there’s no Walkman, the character arcs are different, it’s not about the same stuff. But that’s how the WGA [Writers Guild of America, which determines credit] works. They like first writers an awful lot.

Never mind that someone who actually works at the WGA discredited that, as stated in the IBT piece:

After seeing an earlier version of this story, Craig Mazin, co-chair of the WGA credits committee, reached out with a clarification that challenges Gunn’s explanation for Perlman’s co-writer credit. “In the case of an adaptation like ‘Guardians,’ the rules don’t favor the first writer,” Mazin said.

And when that kind of subtle (and not-so-subtle) downplaying starts happening, other outlets start repeating it as fact. Like this article over at Cinema Blend which says things like, “When Gunn turned in the first draft of the GOTG script…” and “His unique take on Guardians made fans fall in love with the wise-ass Star-Lord…” The problem isn’t Gunn getting credit where it’s due. Obviously, he had a huge hand in the script, and he directed the damn thing. The problem is the erasure of Perlman’s contribution, without which he wouldn’t have had this particular job to begin with.

Gunn didn’t write the first draft of that script, Perlman did. He built on something that she’d already started. Did he make a great movie? Yes. But he wasn’t the only one with a hand in it, and it’s disappointing that the endeavor is too often portrayed that way. Which basically means that, even when women are given high-profile, mainstream projects to do, their roles don’t actually matter. It’s all very well for them to do the behind-the-scenes grunt work, but all the praise and glory is reserved for the “real” storytellers.

When I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy, I was excited – in part – because I was about to see the first Marvel movie that had a female writer on it. Imagine my surprise when, during a behind-the-scenes featurette that the Arclight put together in which Gunn was interviewed, Perlman’s name didn’t come up once. And I kept waiting for him to mention her, even in passing. Nope. Now, I don’t know if he didn’t, or if he did, but it got cut. Either way, someone thought that mentioning the co-writer of the film wasn’t important enough to include when talking about…the writing of the film.

Now, I ain’t crying for Nicole Perlman, Argentina. She and Meg LeFauve are hard at work on Captain Marvel as I type. She’s going to be okay. I just wish that Gunn put a bit more money where his mouth is when it comes to women. It would’ve been no skin off his nose to be more gracious about Perlman’s contributions, yet it seemed to pain him to not be able to take full credit, even when he did mention her. And now, he’s written Guardians of the Galaxy 2 all by himself. I hope that makes him feel better.

I just wish he understood just how meaningful recognizing Perlman is – not just for her – but for the women out here who want to see themselves in the film industry. That’s just as important as Gamora merch. Moreso – because it involves real-life women.

(via Comic Book Resources)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.