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Gunn Explores the Darker Side of Costumed Crimefighting in ‘Super’

29 Jul, 2011 By: John Latchem

James Gunn

As superheroes dominate the movie landscape, why shouldn’t we take a look at the darker side of the genre?

That question inspired writer-director James Gunn (Slither, Dawn of the Dead) to make the dark comedy Super, in which a lonely guy, played by Rainn Wilson, gets a vision from God to don a costume and fight crime in the streets in hopes of winning back his wife (Liv Tyler), who left him for a local crime lord (Kevin Bacon).

“I think of Super as a reaction to comic books because I’m a huge comic book fan,” Gunn said while promoting the film at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International. “Watchmen changed my life, and all of these sort of deconstructionist tales have always been of a big interest to me. Doing one in movie form seemed like a natural thing.”

And if some scenes in the film seem really messed up, well, the director takes full responsibility for that.

“I never really set out to make a movie that was f***ed up, but I didn’t hold back while I was writing this film,” Gunn said. “This movie was never about wanting to make a movie that appealed to a certain demographic or making a certain group of people happy. It was just about telling the truest story I could, and that’s what happened to come out of me.”

Gunn first wrote the film in 2002 and notes his script existed before another comic book property to which his film is often compared: Kick-Ass, which was adapted to film in 2010.

In fact, Gunn said, Super was almost made in 2005, with John C. Reilly in the lead.

“The people that were financing it didn’t think John C. Reilly was a big enough star to make the movie at that time,” Gunn said. “And when the movie re-emerged, it was because my ex-wife, Jenna (Fischer, Wilson’s “The Office” co-star), called me up and said, ‘I really want you to make that movie: Have you ever thought of Rainn?’

“He just seemed perfect. It was just an instant bond over an understanding of the script. I still don’t think that there’s ever been someone who understands a movie exactly like I do in the way that Rainn does.”

Another challenge involved re-casting the villain just before cameras starting rolling. They eventually landed Bacon, who stars as another comic book villain in X-Men: First Class.

“We got him about a week and a half before we shot,” Gunn said. “There was another actor who was going to be in that role, and he started to be a problem. I just couldn’t take the risk, so I let him go. And we started searching frantically for someone, and we came up with Kevin.”

Gunn said he loved the chance to work with someone he considered an icon of the industry.

“I loved Diner when I was a kid, and he’s sort of a crazy character in that,” Gunn said. “[So I liked] taking that and sort of expanding it outward into a more f***ed up individual.”

Super hits DVD ($24.98) and Blu-ray ($29.98) Aug. 9 from MPI Media Group and IFC Midnight. Gunn said he thinks the extras on the Blu-ray are all top notch.

“Miranda Bailey, our producer, actually shot and directed a fantastic piece about the movie,” Gunn said. “The commentary by me and Rainn is a lot of fun, and very honest and real, and so I like that.”

Gunn also discussed a deleted scene of a quiet moment between Wilson and Tyler that Gunn said had to be cut for pacing.

“As a scene it’s amazing, but it just didn’t work in the film,” Gunn said. “It slowed things down, but I loved it as a scene itself so I’m happy people get to see that.”

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