James Gunn calls Batman movie “awful” in divisive resurfaced comments

James Gunn and a still from 1989's BatmanWarner Bros./James Gunn

James Gunn has divided DC fans (again) after his past criticism of one of the most iconic Batman movies ever resurfaced online.

Gunn has earned his stripes as a superhero custodian: he made Super, a shut-up-crime black comedy; four years later, he transformed a Z-list Marvel team into a household name with Guardians of the Galaxy; in 2021, following a tedious (un)sacking by Disney, he directed his own bloody, acclaimed Suicide Squad movie; and the year after, he brought John Cena’s Peacemaker to the small screen.

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He’s now sitting at the helm of DC Studios alongside Peter Safran, ready to take its heroes and rogues gallery into a new, more cohesive big-screen era.

However, while he’s spoken at great length about his love for the comic book firm’s characters and stories, there’s one movie he doesn’t appear to be a fan of. Spoilers for The Flash to follow…

James Gunn slams Tim Burton’s Batman in old comments

In three resurfaced screenshots shared by @MyTimeToShineHello and other users, Gunn rips into Tim Burton’s first Batman movie with Michael Keaton in lengthy, harsh detail. “No wonder James Gunn loved The Flash so much,” they tweeted, alluding to Keaton’s Batman dying in the new film.

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In the first Facebook comment, Gunn wrote: “Keaton DID have a ridiculous voice. That said, I’d rather put up with a ridiculous voice than with horrible action sequences and acting barely worthy of the Batman TV show.

“B) I have no idea how you can think that the Burton Batman has more similarities with Moore or Miller’s Batman (and Joker) than Nolan’s does. And, listen, I have problems with both of Nolan’s films – I don’t think either one is classic, and I don’t even really think Batman Begins is good. But they’re far superior to the first Batman.

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“C) None of your defenses get by the fact that, despite being the first cinematic dark take on Batman (so what? Stallone’s Judge Dredd was the first dark take on Judge Dredd), the movie is awful.”

In the second screenshot, Gunn described Jack Nicholson’s Joker as Jack Torrance from The Shining “with sh*tty clown makeup. F*ck you, everyone involved with that travesty.”

In the third, arguably most contentious comment, Gunn branded the soundtrack with Danny Elfman’s score, Prince’s music, and more as “the worst work of everyone involved.” He also criticized the decision to make the Joker responsible for Bruce Wayne’s parents’ deaths, as it is a “nullification of the bottomless thirst for vengeance that necessarily drives Batman.”

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And then comes the real knockout blow at the end: “Burton’s Planet of the Apes is genius in comparison.”

DC fans react to James Gunn’s Batman 1989 criticism

The comments have, predictably, ruffled some feathers. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this guy is going to be, not only the executive producer of the next DC films, but the next producer of the next Batman movie. And saying that the soundtrack is awful and Keaton and Nicholson’s acting is ridiculous doesn’t really encourage me in giving fate to his decisions,” one user wrote on Reddit.

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“Saying the Batman score is Danny Elfman’s worst work is an insulting take. The rest is opinions, so whatever, but the Batman score straight out f*cks,” another commented. “How can anyone hate the soundtrack. Surprised to see this considering I never thought it of him, but Gunn has very questionable taste,” a third wrote. “James Gunn can only dream that quality of his movies will ever touch Nolan’s Batman trilogy or Burton’s Batman movies,” another wrote.

Some have pointed out that these comments came from an earlier time in Gunn’s life; more specifically, they date back to the hangover of his Troma days, when he was making overtly edgy, contrarian, and controversial comments and jokes.

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“This is from back in his Lollipop Chainsaw/Super/PG Porn days. He was definitely putting on a specific persona at the time. Still kind of a Troma guy at that point. Also who spent the time to scroll through 11 years of his comments on photos? This was difficult to find,” one wrote. “This post is pretty much from the exact era the posts that got him fired from Disney are from. Back then he made edgy and purposely shocking jokes simply because they’re edgy and shocking,” a second commented.

Other fans don’t see why Gunn’s opinions on previous DC movies should matter. “I find it quite disturbing that there are people looking at comments from 11 years ago on internet accounts, to be honest,” one wrote. “These comments are from 2012. If this is a reason to be mad at Gunn and the future of DC, please, seriously, get a life,” another commented.

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“Who cares? Can we stop digging up directors’ decade old opinions? People did it to Snyder too and it was annoying as hell then too. People’s opinions on movies change. I had similar opinions on Batman ‘89 too but now I love it,” a third wrote.

You can check out our other DC coverage here and our other hubs below:

The Batman Part II | Joker 2 | Superman: Legacy | The Brave and the Bold | The Sandman Season 2

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