“Guardians of the Galaxy” writer and director James Gunn has a tendency to break hearts when talking about superheroes. Now an online contingent of weird Batman fans are mad at him, because of a hypothetical situation posed by a TMZ reporter.
TMZ caught up with Gunn on his way home from the Los Angeles International Airport, firing off Marvel-related questions as the director walked to a car with his baggage. The discussion started with “Avengers: Infinity War” and whether the movie and its big consequences for the Marvel Cinematic Universe had messed with Gunn’s future plans for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (they haven’t), and went to the success of “Black Panther” (it was expected to do well, but more than beat those expectations). Finally, TMZ asked Gunn which superhero he’d nab for his movies if he could steal from another franchise.
“Batman,” Gunn said, without hesitation, adding that he wished he could steal Batman from owners DC Comics and Warner Bros. to add the Dark Knight to Marvel’s stable. Then the reporter asked Gunn if he would be willing to kill Batman in his movie, riffing off the fact that Gunn has broken fans’ hearts before. The big one was when Gunn confirmed that Groot (Vin Diesel) in “Guardians of the Galaxy” died at the end of that movie and that Baby Groot as seen in “Vol. 2” is Groot’s son. Later, he added an emotional dimension to “Infinity War” by translating the last line Groot says (which the audience hears as “I am Groot” to Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper).
“I could kill Batman,” Gunn joked, and prompted to say how he might have Caped Crusader die in a movie, speculated that Batman could get thrown off a roof or something. It was a joking answer about a joking premise, and all Batman fans know that throwing Batman off a roof is the least reliable way of killing him, as he has any number of grappling hooks on his person at all times — and he can often glide to safety thanks to his spiffy cape.
That didn’t stop Batman fans from getting mad at Gunn online, though.
There’s always been some rivalry between Marvel and DC fans, just like fans of “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” used to rag on each other back in the day, for whatever reason. But in the time of the Internet, the battle between fandoms has taken on a different dimension. Each new Marvel movie seems to be met with a smattering of loud protest (and Facebook boycott attempts). These come from a vocal minority who think the studio caters to “social justice warriors” and is mad about ideas like focusing on female characters, flipping the gender of a known comic character, or casting a person of color to play a character that has traditionally appeared white in the comics.
Gunn took to Twitter to assure DC fans that he wouldn’t be killing Batman (in a movie that he’s not working on) anytime soon. Robin better look out, though.