‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ director James Gunn applauds Marvel’s growing embrace of low-budget storytellers

Saturday, 22 April 2017, 01:35:37 AM. The writer-director is especially impressed with small-film directors like Ryan Coogler who can make the leap to a Marvel blockbuster.

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“Guardians of the Galaxy 2” writer-director James Gunn, left, and star Michael Rooker on the red carpet this week in Hollywood. (Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

WITH THE announcement this week that “Captain Marvel” has found its directing team in Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Marvel Studios continues to extend its trust in directors known more for low-budget storytelling than blockbuster effects.

James Gunn, who himself was best known for smaller films like “Slither” before signing with Marvel, applauds the trend.

“That, I can stand behind,” Gunn tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs by phone Thursday, while promoting his “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2″ (due out May 5), the sequel to his 2014 smash.

Gunn himself had been in the business for a couple of decades when Marvel called — his projects ranged from “Dawn of the Dead” (2004) to “Super” to “Scooby Doo” — yet he’s especially impressed with talents who make the Marvel leap quickly.

“I think it’s incredible that they do one or two low-budget movies and then” handle a blockbuster, says Gunn, who is particularly impressed with Ryan Coogler and Taika Waititi, who are directing the forthcoming “Black Panther” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” respectively. Coogler had directed two feature films (including “Fruitvale Station”) prior; and before 2014, Waititi (“Hunt for the Wilderpeople”) had worked mostly in TV.

“In Ryan and Taika, I know both of those guys, and their two movies from that year [2014] happened to be my favorite movies from that year: ‘Creed’ and ‘What We Do in the Shadows,’ which is so good and so action-oriented and funny and emotional. Taika was the perfect choice for a Marvel movie.”

“I trust those guys to make wise choices,” adds Gunn, about Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige and his team. “They’ve made some not-so-wise choices, but they’re getting better and better at it.”

And what Gunn takes from that is a sense of the belief studio executives have in him — a trust than runs through the entire process.

“In the same way that I cast Chris Pratt [for “Guardians"], Kevin cast me,” he says. “So it’s a wonderful talent that they have, and I hope that they keep making smart choices.”

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