EXCLUSIVE: Superhero movies have long featured redemption and second chances, and it appears that life has now followed in the footsteps of the arts. James Gunn has been hired again by Disney to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and I’ve confirmed this with Marvel and Gunn’s team.
Following discussions with Disney studio leadership and the team at Marvel Studios, the decision to rehire Gunn—who was fired by Disney last July after alt-right journalists made public a flurry of ten-year-old social media missives that made light of pedophilia and rape—was considered and ultimately made months ago.
Why did you change your mind? Alan Horn, president of Walt Disney Studios, met with Gunn several times after the firing to talk about the issue. Horn made the decision to change course and restore Gunn after being persuaded by Gunn’s public apologies and subsequent handling of the circumstance.
The filmmaker never did anything but blame himself for the poor judgment shown at a time when he was emerging from the Troma film factory and seeking to be a provocateur, even though the social media posts were unjustifiable. There were no reports of Gunn ever acting in the way he made fun of. Kevin Hart took a defensive stance that made him decide not to host the Oscars, but Gunn fell on his sword early and frequently and never retaliated against Disney.
Although Disney’s rapid response was totally expected when the social media posts were first revealed by sites like Fox News, Gunn’s missives were ultimately poorly selected words rather than acts. These media publications claimed that Gunn’s letters were revealed to be retaliation for Gunn’s outspoken criticism of President Donald Trump.
Gunn’s decision to write and film the Suicide Squad sequel for Warner Bros. and DC hampered his return to Guardians of the Galaxy 3. After Gunn completes Suicide Squad 2, Marvel Studios has agreed to start production on Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Even though it was rumored that Vice director Adam McKay and Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi were in the running, Marvel Studios never spoke with or considered any other directors for Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 has received zero attention from Marvel Studios, which has shifted its attention to Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. Destin Daniel Cretton was chosen by Marvel this week to helm Shang-Chi.
Gunn had written a script before being fired, and Marvel has since announced that it will be utilized for the third Guardians of the Galaxy film. As he supports the May 24 release of Brightburn, the David Yarovevsky-directed film starring Elizabeth Banks and produced by Gunn, I anticipate him to affirm all of the above.
There will undoubtedly be a chorus of people complaining about Gunn’s return, but the Guardians will gain from it in terms of creativity. The whole ensemble of the movie expressed their open wish for Gunn to return, claiming that those satirical tweets did not reflect his actual behavior. Chris Pratt, Zoey Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, and Pom Klementieff all lobbied for Gunn’s return in an open letter, demonstrating how much the ensemble loves him.
The incident damaged the cast’s sense of camaraderie with the director and suspended a popular franchise. Marvel has done a tremendous job of letting its directors add their own personality to each franchise, and probably no one director has left such a strong mark on a brand as Gunn has on Guardians. Over $1.6 billion was made globally from the first two movies, with the sequel outpacing the first.
Soon after Gunn’s dismissal was made public, supporters started circulating a petition pleading with Disney to change its mind. On October 31, a fan-funded billboard promoting Gunn’s rehire was put up in Anaheim, California.
Disney is just days away from finalizing the purchase of Fox’s assets, and while the firm will always put family first, it is somehow comforting to know that there is room for second chances and for a talented director to have a chance to redeem a reprehensible oversight.
Gunn is represented by UTA and The Safran Group.
Gunn apologized as follows in July of last year: “My remarks from almost ten years ago were, at the time, completely unsuccessful and terrible attempts to be provocative. Since then, I have regretted them for a very long time.
This is due to the fact that they were not only foolish, not at all amusing, incredibly insensitive, and not at all controversial as I had anticipated, but also because they don’t accurately represent the person I am now or have been for a while. No matter how much time has passed, I concur with the business judgments made today.
I accept full responsibility for how I conducted myself back then, even all these years afterwards. Beyond expressing my deepest remorse, all I can do at this point is strive to be the best person I can be: welcoming, understanding, devoted to equality, and far more careful with my public pronouncements and my responsibilities to our public dialogue. I once more extend my sincere apologies to everyone in my sector and elsewhere. Liebe to allen.