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James Gunn uses a classic Steve Carell movie to defend Superman Legacy

How do you stop people being mean about your Superman movie? If you're James Gunn, you compare it to a Steve Carell comedy movie, of course.

Superman from the Superman Legacy comics, with Steve Carell in 40-Year-Old Virgin and Anchorman

Steve Carell movies are always guaranteed to improve my mood if I’m feeling a little down. They’re a hell of a lot of fun, but it seems the comedy classics of Carell have another use, at least if you’re James Gunn, that is.

The DCU hasn’t even started properly yet, and we’re at least 18 months away from the release of Superman Legacy, but fans are already unhappy. The problem is that Gunn’s decision to include other DC characters, such as Hawkgirl and Metamorpho, in one of the most important new movies in Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters has fans fearing the focus will be taken away from the Man of Steel.

Gunn isn’t worried, though. Over on Threads, the filmmaker put forward a bizarre case study to put fans’ minds at ease: “I don’t understand this fear. There are less characters than in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Did you think Steve Carell got enough time?”

I mean, yeah, I guess? The 40-Year-Old Virgin cast boasts the likes of Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Christine Keener, Leslie Mann, and even has a Jonah Hill cameo. And yet, it’s still one of the best comedy movies in my (frankly unwieldy) Blu-ray collection.

The fact that Carell is surrounded by all that talent does not diminish his role in the film at all. Quite the opposite, in fact, with many of my favorite moments from the 2000s movie involving the whole ensemble (real ones will know the waxing scene like the back of their hand).

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Of all the films in the world, why Gunn has referenced that particular movie, I can’t for the life of me say. Can you imagine Christopher Nolan saying, “What do you mean there are too many actors in Oppenheimer? You loved Barbie, and look how many people are in that film?” Comparing Superman Legacy to The 40-Year-Old Virgin is so inane and random that it almost harms Gunn’s argument in a way, as anyone making a comedy movie has a far different MO to those who are putting together superhero movies.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin, as an example, is a standalone story involving a world of unknown characters who all have a part to play in Andy’s (Carell) sexual enlightenment. We need those side characters to flesh out his story and to push him towards his end goal.  A Superman movie, on the other hand, comes with a pre-existing set of expectations and very strict ones, at that.

In essence, Superman Legacy — or any solo superhero film for that matter — could technically succeed with the central hero, their closest ally, and, of course, a great DC villain, too. If you’re going to throw in any other big-name heroes (or bad guys), you better have a good reason for doing so, as superhero movies can very easily become overcrowded.

Personally, I think the upcoming DC movie is in very safe hands with Gunn, and I’m sure he knows what he’s doing when it comes to filling out his cast. But for any fan who has watched the DC movies in order (like me, sadly), there have been enough sub-par films crammed with unnecessary cameos that the concerns are not entirely unwarranted.

Speaking of pointless cameos, let’s look into the Aquaman 2 release date, shall we? I just hope we’re wrong when we say that DC has doubled down in the wrong direction. We’ve also put together a list of five things we want to see from James Gunn’s DCU, and one thing we don’t. But, if you prefer the other superhero universe, though, you might want to see what The Marvels has to offer.