James Gunn $50,000 Bet – Is It Enforceable? The Answer Might Surprise You

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So last week James Gunn made a $50,000 wager with me in the event my scoop about Peter Quill’s father is true. I thought, an attempt at misdirection. Many of you trolled me and said why would he give away that kind of money? Well, he legally doesn’t have to in the event I am proven true. How so? Read below. I reached out to AGENT TREVOR, our fanboy legal analyst to look into and the following is what he came up with.

Mr. Gonzalez,

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving weekend! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you – I’ve been playing catch up with some motions and hearings, so I’m just now able to get to this. I saw your exchange on Twitter between the HeroicHollywood account and James Gunn regarding Mar-Vell, but thought I would still give you some information in case the scoop turns out true.

I went back and watched the Q&A session Mr. Gunn did on Facebook wherein he mentioned the $50,000 and the rumor. At about 7:00 in the video, he begins “debunking spoilers,” and at about 7:15, indicates that he’s done responding to rumors because he doesn’t want to have to deal with a situation where a spoiler is true. At 7:20 Mr. Gunn goes on to say:

“The rumor you read today, if you read it, was absolutely 100% not true, if it’s true I’ll give the person who came up with this rumor 50,000 dollars out of my own pocket, and I think that kind of proves that it’s not true because I don’t want to give away 50,000 dollars…”

Here’s a link to the video, in case you don’t have one handy.

I. WAGER

What Mr. Gunn offered in that video is best described as a wager. However, in California (and many states – it’s unclear exactly where Mr. Gunn was when he made the video; I believe he just left Florida a few days ago based on his Twitter and Facebook posts, though) the law is pretty clear, and has been since 1940:

“An agreement for a bet or wager, i.e., one in which the promisor agrees to perform on the happening of a condition, and for which performance he or she receives no agreed exchange, is illegal.” (Kyne v. Kyne (1940) 16 Cal.2d 436, 438; Schenck v. Hirshfeld (1913) 22 Cal.App. 709, 710; Szadolci v. Hollywood Park Operating Co.(1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 16, 21.)

Now, that doesn’t mean illegal in the sense that he or you will be charged with any crime. What it means is that any wager is not enforceable in the courts. For instance, if Mar-Vell is actually the father, and you were to file a lawsuit against Mr. Gunn in California, it would be dismissed as unenforceable.

II. REAL WORLD APPLICATION

Notwithstanding the above rule, people make friendly wagers all the time. Just look at George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s wager regarding Star Wars and Close Encounters. They bet each other 2.5% of their respective movies. Mr. Spielberg is still making money from that wager today. (Source: Business Insider).

The only reason Mr. Lucas continues to pay Mr. Spielberg is because he’s an honorable guy. Just like every other non-sanctioned wager in California, the honor system rules.

Mr. Gunn seems like a really good guy, who doesn’t like lying to people. That’s his basis for not addressing any more rumors for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2: He doesn’t want to have to deal with a situation where a spoiler or scoop is true, and he’s put in an impossible situation: lying to fans or dealing with Marvel’s security team. In the event that your scoop is correct and he is pulling a J.J.-John-Harrison fast one on us, he seems like the kind of guy who would honor the wager.

I would suggest saving his video separate from Facebook (in the event he takes it down for whatever reason), and if Mar-Vell actually is the father, call him out (in a friendly way) online and on the site. I have a feeling he’d pay up.

III. ISSUES

The only real problem I see here is Mr. Gunn never specifically mentioned you or HeroicHollywood. Mr. Gunn said he would give $50,000 to “the person who came up with this rumor.” It’s possible “this rumor” means your video scoop, but a quick Google search shows people speculating that Mar-Vell is the father in 2014. If he was so inclined, Mr. Gunn could find the most popular one of those early articles and offer to give the cash to that person instead. People have been speculating since Yondu called Peter’s father an asshole.

Further, Mr. Gunn has proven to be fast and loose with the source material. Drax was originally human, but changed to alien for the movie. We know that the Captain Marvel Mar-Vell is Kree, but in Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova Prime said Peter’s father was something they hadn’t seen in a long time. Xandar’s war with the Kree just ended, so it’s unlikely she would have said that if he had traces of Kree in his DNA. It’s entirely possible that Mr. Gunn took Mar-Vell and reworked him as something else – maybe an Eternal or who knows what – and renamed him, creating an original character based off of Mar-Vell. The back story can be similar, but with enough tweaks to render him not Mar-Vell. So even if the scoop was correct in that it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Mar-Vell, it’s not Mar-Vell as revealed in the scoop.

I hope all this helps. Keep up the good work. There are a lot of us who don’t mind scoops, and actually look forward to them!

Best,

Agent Trevor

Umberto Gonzalez

Umberto Gonzalez

Umberto Gonzalez has been covering the fanboy beat & breaking scoops for 14 years with numerous Hollywood trade, newspaper, & magazine mentions to his credit.