In 2014, "Guardians of the Galaxy" made James Gunn a household name. As a film director, Gunn has earned a die-hard fandom by injecting irreverent comedy, dynamic music, and high energy into his work. Now one of Hollywood's top directors, he is known for his work in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), which includes the "Guardians" trilogy, "The Suicide Squad," and the "Peacemaker" series.

Born into a family of lawyers, Gunn developed a fascination for filmmaking as a little boy and started making short zombie movies when he was just 12. He began his career in the mid-1990s when he joined Troma Entertainment, an independent film company, where he learned the various aspects of show business: direction, scouting, scriptwriting, and distribution of films. Since then, he's won multiple awards for his contribution to film, including a Critics' Choice Award for Best Action Film and The Filmmakers Showcase Award at the 2007 Saturn Awards.

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In 1994, Gunn moved to New York, where he enrolled in Columbia University's MFA program. While he studied prose writing at Columbia, he applied for a part-time job filing papers at Troma Entertainment, America's leading B-Movie production company. While making $400 a week, he was given a crash course on the mechanics of filmmaking. At Troma, he learned how to write screenplays, produce films, scout locations, direct actors, distribute films, and even create his own poster art. He ended up writing the screenplay for a movie called "Tromeo & Juliet," which became a cult hit, playing in theaters around the world. Nonetheless, Gunn was careful to complete all of his school work as well. In 1995, he graduated from Columbia with an MFA in writing.

As one of the Columbia’s most successful and influential recent graduates, Gunn's accomplishments continue to help shape the identity of the university, particularly with regard to the arts. As a sign of support, in 2014 Columbia ran a special article on their main site for the School of the Arts, drawing attention to Gunn's then-current film, "Guardians of the Galaxy." Looking ahead, it's very likely that Hollywood will continue to feel the influence of Columbia's first-rate arts program.