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The Marvel Cinematic Universe's success is no secret, and serialized storytelling has changed the face of moviemaking. Phase Three has been the most successful yet, and every installment has been a critical and box office success. But it hasn't been void of controversy, especially where Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn is concerned.
James Gunn was fired from the Guardians franchise by Disney this past July, after offensive tweets from a decade ago resurfaced. His absence put Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on hold, and months went by without any notice. But Gunn has since been rehired, and finally broke his silence about what his experience was like. And that includes understanding why Disney decided to distance itself from the director/writer:
I don’t blame anyone. I feel and have felt bad for a while about some of the ways I spoke publicly; some of the jokes I made, some of the targets of my humor, just the unintentional consequences of not being more compassionate in what I’m putting out there. I know that people have been hurt by things that I’ve said, and that’s still my responsibility, that I wasn’t as compassionate as I should be in what I say. I feel bad for that and take full responsibility. Disney totally had the right to fire me. This wasn’t a free speech issue. I said something they didn’t like and they completely had the right to fire me. There was never any argument of that.
Despite how difficult the months following his firing may have been, it seems that James Gunn doesn't have any ill-will toward the House of Mouse. Instead, he acknowledges that his tweets were indeed offensive, and therefore bad for business. While he eventually ended up being reinstated, Gunn also stresses the importance of taking responsibility for his actions.
As soon as James Gunn's tweets resurfaced, the director took to social media to address the situation. He acknowledged their offensive nature, and claimed the past decade of personal development have turned him into a different man-- one that wouldn't make the same jokes. But Gunn was ultimately fired, an event which he thought might ruin his career.
In his same conversation with Deadline, James Gunn spoke about how he felt directly after he was fired and the story went public. And it certainly sounds like a dark and unsure place. As he put it:
That first day… I’m going to say it was the most intense of my entire life. There have been other difficult days in my life, from the time I got sober when I was younger, to the death of friends who committed suicide. But this was incredibly intense. It happened, and suddenly it seemed like everything was gone. I just knew, in a moment that happened incredibly quickly, I had been fired. It felt as if my career was over.
James Gunn had a series of months before any news came from his career, although his firing did make the room for an unexpected collaboration with DC. Because before stepping back behind the camera for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, he'll handle another scrappy group of comic book characters in The Suicide Squad.
While it took some time for James Gunn to be reinstated to finish his Guardians trilogy, he was in contact with the folks over at Disney. He explained he had a meeting and made piece with the studios decision, saying:
I wanted to feel that way about Disney. I didn’t want to look back and feel bitter, upset or angry. Of course all sorts of emotions are attached to it. But I just wanted to be comfortable saying goodbye and splitting up, and that’s where my head was at, even in the very early meeting we had, a week or two weeks after it all happened.
James Gunn's firing was met with major backlash from the fandom, as well as members of the filmmaking world. The Guardians of the Galaxy cast signed a letter in solidarity with their director, and the movie remained in development hell without anyone to get behind the camera. But now Gunn has been brought back, essentially saving Guardians 3 in the process.
Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame
Narratively, there are a ton of threads for James Gunn to pull on for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Avengers: Endgame concluded with Thor joining the group, which he named "Asgardians of the Galaxy". He had a great rapport with characters like Rocket and Star-Lord, and it should be interesting to see how the God of Thunder's inclusion changes the group dynamic.
And while Gamora perished at the hands of Thanos for the Soul Stone, a version of the character from 2014 time traveled during Endgame's third act, and is somewhere out there for the group to find. And if/when they do, everyone but Nebula will have to start fresh, with a new Gamora and a new relationship to forge. This will no doubt especially challenging for Peter Quill, whose feelings are so strong he ruined the battle on Titan in Infinity War.
It should also be interesting to see exactly what James Gunn does with The Suicide Squad, as it isn't a project totally dissimilar to the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Once again, he'll be tasked with bringing a motley crew of comic book characters, likely creating a dysfunctional family unit in the process. This tasked was attempted by David Ayer in the original Suicide Squad, but only certain characters like Harley Quinn and Deadshot managed to really resonate with audiences.
James Gunn is reportedly wanted to look at The Suicide Squad as a reboot, rather than a traditional sequel. But there are also plenty of returning faces attached to the developing blockbuster, including Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerang, Viola Davis' Amanda Waller, and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. But there's also new talent and characters coming, including Idris Elba and David Dastmalchian.
It's currently unclear when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will arrive in theaters, but Marvel Studios is expected to provide a look into the future this summer. The Guardians are in Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.