Disney reportedly did not actively seek a replacement for James Gunn on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 before his rehiring earlier this week. After bringing Marvel's intergalactic band of misfits, the Guardians of the Galaxy, to the MCU in two well-received movies and subsequently contributing to their appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, anticipation was certainly high for James Gunn's third GOTG adventure. Unfortunately, the resurgence of distasteful tweets from the director's past led to Disney firing Gunn - a move that was roundly panned by the entire industry and, most significantly, the main Guardians cast themselves, with some even pledging not to return without Gunn's involvement.
Eight months on from his dismissal, many MCU fans had solemnly resigned themselves to the fact that Gunn would not be returning to the franchise, and the director's involvement in The Suicide Squad for DC initially appeared to confirm just that. In an unexpected twist however, reports emerged this week that Gunn had been officially reinstated by Disney to work on GOTG3 and the man himself posted a heartfelt message on social media in response to the news. Naturally, this led to a host of speculation from observers as to why the Mouse House would pull such a drastic U-turn.
Various sources are now reporting that Disney never actually began their search for a replacement director on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. According to both THR and Deadline, Marvel and Disney didn't seek, consider or speak with any other directors with a view to replacing Gunn between his firing last July and the reveal of his return earlier this week.
It's important to note that this has not been confirmed by the studio themselves and it's entirely possible that Disney could've discussed replacing Gunn in private without the media getting wind of any potential candidates. Nevertheless, there remain plenty of question marks surrounding the situation, with Marvel Studios giving little away and Gunn himself remaining understandably quiet on Twitter since the incident began. Perhaps the biggest question is whether Disney always planned to rehire Gunn once the heat on him had ebbed away, thereby explaining why they never sought a replacement, or whether Gunn's firing was originally intended to be permanent but behind-the-scenes factors, such as the feelings of both the cast and fandom, forced Disney into choosing between rehiring the director or scrapping GOTG3 entirely.
Fans may never discover the full picture regarding James Gunn's situation at Disney, but one thing most will agree on is that the director's return is hugely positive news for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn possessed a clear affinity for the central band of characters and brought a certain humor and tone to the MCU that another director would've struggled to replicate. Had another figure taken Gunn's place in the director's chair, the scrutiny placed on them would've made it near-impossible for the film to garner a positive reaction. With Gunn at the helm once again, the GOTG series can continue more or less undisturbed.
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