James Gunn is back with Marvel Studios, and calls are growing for Marvel Comics to also rehire Star Wars comic book writer Chuck Wendig. A prolific author, Wendig first got involved in Star Wars when he wrote the Aftermath trilogy of novels. His inclusion of LGBTQ characters led to his becoming the target of a vocal online campaign, and Wendig took on the trolls on social media directly.
In October last year, this online debate ultimately got Wendig fired from Marvel Comics. Marvel execs considered his tweets to be both too political and too vulgar; they fired him from both the upcoming Shadow of Vader miniseries and another project that was yet to be announced. An unrepentant Wendig went public about the reason for the firing, which he considered to be completely independent of Lucasfilm. In Wendig's view, it was the wrong call. As he pointed out, it encourages the trolls, convincing them that - if they can just goad and abuse an artist into responding - they can achieve their goal and get them fired. "It does set a troubling precedent," Wendig wrote. "One we’ve seen already – James Gunn, Jessica White, and so on – of folks fired because they riled up the wasp’s nest of asterisk-gate."
Disney has relented with James Gunn, impressed by the director's maturity and re-hiring him to helm Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. That's inevitably led to similar calls for Marvel Comics to do the same with Chuck Wendig, another victim of an online campaign of harassment.
Of course, it's entirely possible that Marvel will indeed relent; but it has to be noted that there are significant differences between Gunn's case and what happened to Chuck Wendig. The most obvious is that Gunn was fired by Disney, whereas Marvel execs were the ones who decided to fire Wendig. That's actually an important distinction, because there's been some concern that Marvel Comics is taking a more conservative approach to their hiring and firing recently; in September last year, Marvel canceled feminist writer Chelsea Cain's Vision comic just two months before its release. If these concerns are accurate, then their re-hiring Wendig is a lot more unlikely.
Both Gunn and Wendig were targeted for their anti-Trump leanings, but in Gunn's case he was fired because of old social media comments that were unearthed. In contrast, Wendig fought his own corner on social media and, to be fair to Marvel, was pretty vulgar. Where Gunn has been repentant, Wendig clearly doesn't believe he did anything wrong in the first place. Gunn didn't attempt to defend his actions, but instead accepted responsibility for what he'd done in the past and he didn't have a bad word to say about Disney over the last few months. In contrast, Wendig went public with the whole affair, and made it abundantly clear that he feels Marvel made a mistake. The truth is, as a celebrated author, to Wendig comics were only ever an extra string to his bow; he enjoyed making them, and he'd like to write them again, but his focus was still on his novels. As a result, when he felt Marvel had been out of order, he had no qualms about airing his concerns in public.
The examples of Gunn and Wendig are similar on a superficial level; both the director and the writer were fired as a result of right-wing social media campaigns. But there are crucial differences, and these make it unlikely that Wendig will return to Marvel Comics. Still, the reality is that just a month ago nobody would have predicted James Gunn's return to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3; Wendig's return is theoretically possible as well. It's just not particularly probable.