James Gunn Fires Back at Fans Calling Him a Nepotist

By Jennifer McDonough Updated:
James Gunn, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn

Acclaimed director and DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn remarked on certain groups who labeled him a nepotist (one who practices favoritism on the basis of family relationships).

Since James Gunn's hiring at DC Studios in October 2022, Gunn has faced a host of criticism from fans, who have, among other things, condemned the fact that the director/producer often pulls from the same talent pool when developing new movies or shows.

One such actor is Sean Gunn, who played Kraglin Obfonteri in his brother’s Guardians of the Galaxy films for Marvel and has also been tapped to portray multiple roles in Gunn and Safran’s revamped DC Universe

The director has also faced backlash from casting his wife Jennifer Holland in both the DCU (as recurring ARGUS operative Emilia Harcourt) and MCU (as Administrator Kwol in Guardians 3.) but Gunn has staunchly defended those decisions as well.

James Gunn Defends Casting His Brother in Projects

James Gunn, Avengers, Justice League
James Gunn

Speaking to OneMan, DCU head James Gunn fought back against critics who claim he engaged in nepotism by hiring his brother Sean Gunn in multiple television series and films. James Gunn deemed those allegations “ridiculous:”

“It's the most ridiculous thing in the world. My brother was in a TV show for seven years ['Gilmore Girls'] making much more money than I was making those days. Me and my brother have been making movies since I was 11. Saying that he is not a person that I know inside-out and that he's not the best actor I have worked with, it would be ridiculous.“

Sean Gunn played Kraglin in James Gunn’s MCU installments. He also made a brief cameo in The Suicide Squad as Calendar Man while also providing the voice and motion capture performance for Weasel in the same film. The younger Gunn brother is also attached to Creature Commandos as the voice actor for GI Robot, while also reprising his role as Weasel.

James Gunn continued, mentioning that it’s important for his process that he works with people that he knows, including Steve Agee and Chris Pratt:

“They called me a nepotist because I worked with Steve Agee. He is a friend of mine of course, but he's also the funniest guy I know. Chris Pratt is one of my best friends. He's one of my groomsmen. It's important for me to work with people that I know. The way that I can talk to them and we can communicate so openly, it's part of the creative process. Anybody who makes movies will say this.“

Gunn previously went on record as saying he just prefers to work with professional actors who he personally has good working relationships. This ultimately saves him time in not needing to repeatedly explain his filmmaking and writing styles to newcomers.

Gunn Values His DCU and MCU Actors

James Gunn has no doubt explained countless times why the same faces always pop up in the things he directs. It’s clear that he likes working with his friends and the people he respects.

And really, is there something seriously wrong with that? Adam Sandler has repeatedly made comedy movies that are just thinly veiled excuses for him to pal around on-set with his buddies and no one really bats an eye.

Gunn seems to be a man of integrity. He didn’t even originally want to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 if he couldn’t include Michael Rooker’s Yondu, whom Gunn killed off in Vol. 2, citing his friendship with the actor.

James Gunn is currently deep into the casting process for 2025’s Superman: Legacy. His latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now playing in theaters everywhere.

- About The Author: Jennifer McDonough
Jennifer McDonough has been a writer at The Direct since its 2020 launch. She is responsible for the creation of news articles and features. She also has a particular affinity for action figures and merchandise, which she revels in discussing in the articles she writes, when the situation calls for it.