James Gunn Nearly Made a ‘Creature of the Black Lagoon’ Movie

May 14, 2023

James Gunn is one of the hottest filmmakers right now, thanks to his successful Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy and his ambitious DC Universe project. However, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, before Gunn became the king of comic book adaptations, the filmmaker also had his movie ideas shut down by big studios. That was the case of a Creature of the Black Lagoon Gunn took to Universal, which could have given us a unique take on the beloved Universal Monsters franchise.

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What Is ‘Creature of the Black Lagoon’?

Released in 1954, the first Creature of the Black Lagoon movie revolved around a group of scientists discovering a creature that links aquatic and land species. Baptized as Gill-man, the animal became one of the most beloved monsters in the golden era of Universal Monsters, as important for the evolution of horror cinema as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Invisible Man. However, even though Creature of the Black Lagoon established the archetype of the humanoid aquatic monsters, Gill-man never got the same opportunities as its Universal Monsters pals. The original movie received two sequels, Revenge of the Creature in 1955 and The Creature Walks Among Us in 1956. After that, Universal tried to remake the original film and reboot the franchise multiple times without ever allowing any project to enter the production stage.

Gill-man showed up for several crossover movies involving the Universal Monsters, including 1967’s Mad Monster Party?, 1972’s Mad Mad Mad Monsters, and 1987’s The Monster Squad. Still, almost seven decades have passed since Gill-man had a movie of his own to star in. Yet, over the decades, Gill-man would keep his prestigious position as the ultimate aquatic creature. For instance, Gill-man would be an obvious inspiration for Mike Mignola’s Abe Sapien, a character made famous beyond comic book circles thanks to Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of Hellboy. The filmmaker would also launch The Shape of Water in 2017 as a drastic reimagining of Creature of the Black Lagoon in which del Toro wonders what would happen if the monster got the girl. Still, despite all that, we are waiting for a new Creature of the Black Lagoon horror movie. Tragically, Universal didn’t give Gunn a chance to tackle the project.

Before the MCU, James Gunn Wanted to Use Gill-Man for a Movie

Image via United Film Distribution Company

Before Gunn became one of the most beloved filmmakers in Hollywood, he was just an emerging writer trying to make an impact in Hollywood. After a couple of movies that failed to win big at the box office, Gunn wrote the script for 2002’s live-action Scooby-Doo, the film that would put him on the Hollywood map. After that, Gunn also wrote the screenplay for 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, a remake of George Romero’s classic of the same name that served as the directorial debut of Zack Snyder. Thanks to Dawn of the Dead, Snyder showed the world his talents as a director. Meanwhile, Gunn proved he had a unique voice when it comes to dealing with the scary and the bizarre.

After the success of Dawn of the Dead, it would be fair to assume big studios would be eager to give Gunn some money to remake other classic horror movies. However, that’s not what happened. As Gunn revealed in an Instagram Q&A that took place in 2021, he tried to use Dawn of the Dead as leverage to set a meeting with Universal Studios, with the goal of proposing a remake of Creature of the Black Lagoon. Sadly, Gunn’s pitch was refused.

Looking back, it’s fortunate that Gunn’s Creature of the Black Lagoon never took off. If it did, his filmmaking career could have taken a different path, and we might not have his marvelous Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. And without his MCU experience, Gunn would not have delivered The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, arguably two of the best DC live-action adaptations in history. Finally, without his deeply moving DC productions, Gunn would not have become co-head of DC Studios and developed his new DCU plan.

We are delighted that Gunn’s career developed as it did, and we are excited to see what he does next. Still, it’s funny to think about the executives that refused Gunn’s Creature of the Black Lagoon. Looking at Gunn’s achievements, these people must have realized they made a huge mistake by not giving the filmmaker the keys to the kingdom. Still, while Gunn didn’t get to write his Creature of the Black Lagoon script, his upcoming projects will give him plenty of opportunity to play around with aquatic creatures.

The DCU Will Give James Gunn the Chance to Explore Other Creatures

Image via DC Studios

As co-head of DC Studio, Gunn is responsible for dealing with the label’s most-beloved heroes in his DCU storyline. That’s why Gunn is writing and directing Superman: Legacy, the highly-anticipated return to theaters of the Man of Steel. However, Gunn thrives when creating stories that involve monsters, weirdos, and misfits, as both Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad prove. That’s why his DCU plan is filled with bizarre creatures that can more than make up for the Creature of the Black Lagoon pitch Universal refused.

First of all, Gunn has written the script for every episode of Creature Commandos, an upcoming animated series featuring the monsters of DC. The Creature Commandos team has big-shot monsters such as Eric Frankenstein, but the team also includes Zoe Chao as the voice of Nina Mazursky, which is basically DC’s version of Gill-man.

Furthermore, one of the biggest movies James Gunn is supervising for the new DCU is Swamp Thing, another classic amphibian creature on the DC hoster. And since Gunn already revealed that Swamp Thing is inspired by Alan Moore’s comic book run of the character, we can expect it to deal with existential horror. So, while Gunn is not officially attached to writing Swamp Thing, the movie would be the perfect opportunity to revisit his ideas for Creature of the Black Lagoon. We would love to know more about Gunn’s Creature of the Black Lagoon movie-that-never-was. Still, we can’t say we are sad about how things turned out for the director. After all, DC gave Gunn many fascinating creatures for the filmmaker to play around with.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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