James Gunn is one of the least likely big-name directors in Hollywood. After getting his start making low-budget horror movies for Troma Entertainment (an independent studio known for making gory schlock), Gunn made his Hollywood debut writing the Scooby Doo movie.
Since then, he’s worked as a writer, producer and director. He’s also built one of the most unique resumes in modern Hollywood, working on everything from family friendly films, big budget comic book movies and gory horror flicks. While not every movie he’s worked on has been a home run, he’s had a fairly strong run as a creative and each of James Gunn’s movies is worth at least checking out.
These are James Gunn movies ranked worst to best.
Related: James Gunn’s Plans for DCEU Movies
James Gunn Movies, Ranked
8. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
One of Gunn’s first major Hollywood gigs was writing the live-action adaptation of Scooby-Doo. The first film, while flawed, was a love letter to the franchise that included plenty of jokes just for the parents. When it came to making the sequel, the studio forced Gunn to tone it down, and the result is a much sillier movie that lacks the heart of the first. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is purely a kids’ movie, which is fine, but it feels like a step down from the first.
How to watch Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed: Stream on HBO Max or Netflix.
Related: How to Rent the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine on Airbnb
7. Brightburn (2019)
Before taking over DC’s film studio, Gunn produced a dark take on the Superman mythos. Brightburn tells the story of a childless couple in Kansas who finds an alien baby in a crashed ship. Since the kid looks human, they decide to raise him as their own. As the years pass, the child begins to develop superpowers, much like Superman. Unfortunately, the kid doesn’t have Clark Kent’s sense of justice and begins terrorizing the town. The film was only produced by Gunn, and while it’s an interesting concept, it’s missing the heart and charm that Gunn is able to insert into the films he typically helms.
How to watch Brightburn: Rent on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Redbox, Vudu and YouTube.
Related: What to Expect From James Gunn’s Superman Movie
6. The Suicide Squad (2021)
DC Studios quickly picked up Gunn after Marvel Studios fired him. While Marvel would eventually rehire the director, it wasn’t until after he signed on to make a sequel/reboot for David Ayer‘s Suicide Squad.
Gunn filled his cast with some of the strangest DC characters he could find (Polka Dot Man, The Detachable Kid, Weasel) and set them loose on an island with a dark secret. Gunn has a lot of fun and there are a lot of unique and crazy set pieces. While the end result is better than the first film, it’s still a bit uneven: There might be too many characters in The Suicide Squad, forcing Gunn to take the story on unnecessary detours at times. Also, while the end fight with Starro is amazing, it feels disconnected from the rest of the film.
That being said, DC clearly liked what Gunn did with the property, as his work on The Suicide Squad led to him being hired to be the creative head of the studio in October 2022.
How to watch The Suicide Squad: Stream on HBO Max.
Related: The Best Superhero Movies of All Time, Ranked
5. The Belko Experiment (2016)
After making the biggest movie of his career, Gunn followed up Guardians of the Galaxy with a small thriller about a group of office workers forced into fighting to the death. The Belko Experiment, written and produced by Gunn, combines comedy and horror.
The result is a mixed bag of dark comedy and heavy drama that doesn’t always fit together. Some of the absurd humor can undercut the tension in the more serious moments, which makes both scenes feel less effective. The end result is a decent film that doesn’t quite live up to its potential.
How to watch The Belko Experiment: Stream on Pluto TV and Tubi.
Related: The Best Horror Comedy Movies of All Time
4. Slither (2006)
Gunn made his directorial debut with Slither, a movie about a town invaded by alien parasites. The film combines gross-out horror with comedy, and the end result is an interesting, if slightly uneven, movie.
Gunn clearly has fun with the body-horror elements of the film, but he sometimes gets too bogged down in paying tribute to previous genre entries. Interestingly, Gunn would revisit the concept of alien parasites infecting humans multiple times later in his career (The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker).
How to watch Slither: Rent from Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Redbox, Vudu and YouTube.
Related: The Best Horror Movies on Netflix
5. Scooby-Doo (2002)
Before taking the director’s chair, Gunn got his start as a writer. After working on some low-budget films, he got his first big break writing the big-screen adaptation of Scooby-Doo.
Unlike the sequel, this film attempts to entertain both kids and adults. There are plenty of in-jokes (Shaggy falls in love with a girl named Mary Jane), and the story often mocks many of the tropes Scooby-Doo was known for. The studio had to reign Gunn in, however, and while the end result is still an entertaining movie, it’s definitely missing some of the charm that Gunn was able to inject into later projects.
How to watch Scooby-Doo: Stream on HBO Max and Netflix.
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4. Super (2010)
Before joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Gunn made his own kind of superhero movie. Starring The Office‘s Rainn Wilson, Super tells the story of a short-order cook whose wife leaves him for a drug-dealing strip club owner. After a “vision from God,” the man becomes a hero named The Crimson Bolt and begins beating up criminals in his town with a large wrench. The film is darkly funny and shows off Gunn’s unique take on comic book movies.
How to watch Super: Stream on Pluto TV.
Related: What to Know About Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
After the success of the first film, fans couldn’t wait to see what Gunn had in store for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. The director has an affinity for strange comic book characters and decided to make Ego, the Living Planet, the villain of the film. Played by Kurt Russell, this version of Ego is a far cry from the silly, planet-with-a-face bad guy from the comics.
Only James Gunn could take one of Marvel’s silliest characters and have him deliver one of the most devastating and heartbreaking lines in any comic book movie.
How to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Stream on Disney+.
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2. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Another movie that Gunn didn’t direct, but wrote, was Zack Snyder‘s Dawn of the Dead, the second major studio film penned by Gunn. Remaking one of the most beloved horror movies of all time was always going to be a difficult task, but Gunn succeeded by not trying to copy the original film. Instead, he took the basic premise and then created his own characters and focused the story on them. Gunn’s writing style paired well with Snyder’s flashy direction, resulting in a surprisingly strong remake.
How to watch Dawn of the Dead (2004): Stream on Hulu.
Related: How to Watch the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
While some fans may prefer the sequel, the first Guardians of the Galaxy still has a vocal fanbase. The fact is, both movies are pretty great, but the first has a slightly tighter story. The Guardians work best when they’re together, and this movie is all about building the group up as a team. The movie is weird (in the best ways), silly, and full of heart. It’s also the film that proved that James Gunn crafts the best soundtracks in the entire industry.
How to watch Guardians of the Galaxy: Stream on Disney+.
Next, find out how to watch every DCEU movie in order.