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Disney Not Rehiring James Gunn is a Big Mistake for Marvel (And Beyond)

James Gunn and Disney Castle

The Problems Created For Disney By Not Rehiring Gunn

The past few weeks have been a public relations nightmare for Disney, a company that is usually considered impervious to the image problems typical of a corporation of this stature. Marvel has been reasonably scandal-free for the past decade, which is no mean feat given its size, cost and the level of talent involved. Arguably, the biggest scandal to happen to the franchise up until Gunn’s firing was Edgar Wright walking away from directing Ant-Man, and even that was rumored to have been an amicable decision.

It’s completely understandable why Disney made the decision that they did. Not only are they a massive company, they’re the only studio in the business whose image is defined so heavily by their family-friendly appeal. Disney likes to keep a tight rein on their team and it would not do for one of their most familiar directors to have these black marks on his social media accounts. To put it simply, it would be a bad image for a family-friendly movie director to have pedophilia jokes under his name.

Related: Why Disney Isn't Rehiring James Gunn For Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Under typical circumstances, Gunn’s firing would not have been hugely controversial, although there still would have been vocal detractors. It was the context of his firing that remains so troubling. The bad faith tactics of reacting so quickly to a conspiracy theorist’s obvious agenda are what have angered so many. Cernovich wanted to hurt Gunn’s career and he knew the way to do it. Giving a victory to the alt-right on any matter is a bad idea, but for one of the biggest entities in film to do so was never going to end well for Disney.

The Problems Created For Marvel By Not Rehiring Gunn

James Gunn Marvel Studios Creative Freedom

For Marvel, who it appears wasn't instrumental in the firing but have stood by Disney, those same PR problems exist, possibly even more so given the acclaim and profits Gunn has given them over the years. To toss him aside so casually without a more thorough internal investigation or deeper consideration for the alt-right context seemed dismissive. Gunn is popular, both within Marvel Studios and with fans, and he has helped to shade the aesthetic and humor of the franchise well beyond its roots. Marvel has a history of director issues, but this one hits harder: for many fans, Gunn is the voice of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and to remove him from the series he made his own would be to rob those characters and that world of its identity.

From a purely creative point-of-view, Gunn’s absence will be sorely felt from the new phase of Marvel. On top of his Guardians work, Gunn was also on board at Marvel to act as a creative adviser for their upcoming cosmic expansion. Gunn was the first director to truly explore the franchise beyond Earth and that gave him the freedom to define it. With the next phase of the franchise delving deeper into the galaxy, particularly with the upcoming Captain Marvel, Gunn would have been a necessary voice in the creative team to ensure success. Without him on board, it seems inevitable that there will be changes.

Page 3: The Big Picture Impact Of Not Rehiring James Gunn

Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
Spider-Man with Marvel and Sony logos
Spider-Man’s Exit From Marvel Studios Explained: Why It Happened & Who’s To Blame

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