James Gunn might be one of the most popular directors currently in Hollywood. His trademark blend of humor, action and witty dialogue have earned him widespread praise from fans and fellow directors alike.
While releasing his hit movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, helped establish the director to a larger audience and gained him international exposure, Gunn has also released two other lesser-known movies (2006’s Slither and 2010’s Super) that similarly established him as an indie screen icon.
With the release of his new movie, The Suicide Squad, we wanted to take the time to look back at Gunn’s career thus far and rank his small but impressive filmography from worst to best. Here are four of the best James Gunn films, as well as where you’re currently able to stream them.
4 James Gunn Films Ranked and Where to Stream Them
Gunn’s first dive into the superhero genre is his early work, Super. Blending dark humor with a more realistic take on the superhero genre, Frank, a lonely cook played by Rainn Wilson, assumes the heroic identity of “The Crimson Bolt” after his wife leaves him, waging war on crime despite having any superpowers to speak of.
In many ways, Super resembles the more popular Kick-Ass that also came out in 2010, resulting in Super being overshadowed by the now-cult favorite superhero movie. Though Wilson gives a great performance as Frank, a man who truly wants to do good and rid his community of crime, Super goes a little too heavy on some aspects of the genre (especially its heavy usage of violence), making it a dark, somewhat uneven movie, albeit a very original one at that.
Where it’s streaming: AMC+ (Amazon Prime Video Channel)
Gunn’s debut feature film, Slither, is a throwback of sorts to the work of John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Fred Dekker, offering a comical parody of a zombie science fiction movie. The main premise of Slither is that a strange alien parasite lands on Earth. Once it begins infecting residents of a small South Carolinian town, turning them into insidious monsters, a group of survivors attempts to stop the parasite before it spreads across the US.
Just as much a horror movie as it is a dark comedy, Slither showcases many of Gunn’s signature talents (his penchant for humor, the homages to earlier works that inspired him, and blending two or more genres) in this early, impressive effort from the director. Though not a financial success, the movie quickly became a cult classic and continues to shock, entertain, and gross out viewers to this day.
Where it’s streaming: Amazon Prime Video
Guardians of the Galaxy
The first of the fan-favorite Guardians of the Galaxy movies, James Gunn’s 2014 superhero movie, came out of nowhere. Adapting the titular obscure comic book team was a daring move, especially given their little relevance or attention with current Marvel fans. However, Gunn managed to defy expectations, delivering a hilarious sci-fi adventure movie that audiences loved worldwide.
Backed by an amazing soundtrack full of pop songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s, the first Guardians movie follows a rag-tag band of intergalactic criminals who steal an artifact that an alien warlord plans to use to conquer the universe.
Fun throughout its two-hour runtime, this movie earned the Guardians a welcome place in the MCU and remained a fan-favorite superhero movie years later.
Where it’s streaming: Disney+
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
It may be controversial to put Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at the top of this list above the original, but we believed Gunn’s 2017 sequel was just a little better than his first Guardians movie. When the Guardians encounter a mysterious god-like entity named Ego (Kurt Russell), who claims to be Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) father, the team investigates Star-Lord’s past to learn the truth.
As fun and entertaining as the first Guardians of the Galaxy is, Vol. 2 features a somewhat more serious exploration of the characters while retaining the same humor and lightheartedness that made the first movie so enjoyable. Vol. 2 also utilizes an always-entertaining Kurt Russell as Ego, one of the greatest villains in Marvel comics, and features some of the most emotional scenes in the MCU.
Where it’s streaming: Disney+
It’s hard to play favorites when it comes to James Gunn’s movies. So far, the director has produced a nonstop string of impressive movies. While some may be more popular, well-known, or financially successful than others, we believe wholeheartedly that Gunn has yet to make a terrible movie.
Like everyone, we are also excited for his new movie, The Suicide Squad, which has already warned critics’ approval in early previews and will come to HBO Max and to theaters on August 5. Similarly, we were thrilled with Disney’s decision to bring Gunn back on board for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. If these two movies are anything like Gunn’s previous showings, we know they will likely not disappoint.
Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).