Today, James Gunn is the guy known for creating slightly off-beat, and surprisingly emotional, comic book movies like The Suicide Squad and The Guardians of the Galaxy, before that, he was the guy who wrote a pair of off beat live-action Scooby-Doo movies, and he clearly has a complicated relationship with those films.
The two live-action Scooby-Doo films written by James Gunn have become sort of cult classics over the years, not in the least because they were written by Gunn, who has since become a much bigger name. We know that the first movie especially was never the film that filmmakers quite wanted to make, and maybe that’s why Gunn is giving the movies a hard time on Twitter following the announcement they’re coming to Netflix in October.
The Original Plan For The Live-Action Scooby-Doo
The original live-action Scooby-Doo was, for the most part, a movie geared toward a family audience that would have been enjoying any of the multitude of versions of the cartoon that inspired it. There was a bit of innuendo thrown in, but from what we have learned in the years since, the movie was originally planned to be something quite different. The original Scooby-Doo was shooting for a PG-13 rating, being a film designed for fans who had grown up with the cartoon, but who had very clearly grown up.
As Gunn specifies in a response to this original post, the PG-13 movie literally never happened. Scooby-Doo originally got an R-rating, and following the cuts and changes that were made from that, the film ended up as a PG movie.
The first Scooby-Doo was originally intended (by me, the producers & the director, Raja Gosnell) to be PG-13, but we never got a PG-13 rating. The first rating from the MPAA was R, & then a bunch of stuff was changed, & that cut ended up being rated PG. https://t.co/sfZO79kErKSeptember 20, 2022
Changes included reducing the amount of cleavage on screen via CGI and removing explicit references to Velma being gay. There were apparently Scooby-Doo test audiences that took issue with the idea of taking the property, that had a general audience, and making a movie that was not for that general audience.
In the end, it all worked out, at least in some way. The first Scooby-Doo was successful enough that it earned a sequel, though Gunn’s plan for a third movie would never see the light of day, after the second film, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, didn’t do quite as well at the box office. Gunn has said the money he made from the film was significant, allowing him to buy a house, and that’s certainly worthwhile.
The movies were also James Gunn’s first big studio projects, after cutting his teeth on movies for Troma. A direct line can be drawn between these films and the place in Hollywood that he is in today. There would likely be no Guardians of the Galaxy, at least not James Gunn’s version of them, without the kids from Mystery Inc. These movies are important to him, even if they didn’t quite turn out as he planned.