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Disney's Decision On James Gunn Will Define The MCU

Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn and the Avenger

After Disney fired James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (and, by extension, the entire MCU) due to a series of controversial tweets the writer/director had written nearly a decade ago, the response has been divisive, to say the least. In fact, Disney may well have defined the MCU for its foreseeable future on account of their decision.

Between 2008 and 2012, Gunn had written a number of tweets intended to be humorous that referred to both pedophilia and rape. After Mike Cernovich discovered the tweets and released them via social media, Disney reacted with a "zero tolerance" approach, firing the writer/director from the upcoming third installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy series - the screenplay for which Gunn had already completed. Gunn has since released an official statement apologizing for his actions, various celebrities have stood out in his defense, thousands of fans have signed a petition to reinstate him as director, and even the entire cast of Guardians of the Galaxy pledged their support of Gunn in an open letter. However, these reactions are only the beginning of imminent (and potentially torrential) domino effect-esque consequences.

Related: Why James Gunn Was Fired From Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Marvel Studios is no stranger to facing massive (sometimes abrupt) changes that alter the course of their overall trajectory, and the Disney/Gunn situation may well mark the tipping point of how the future of the MCU evolves. For better or worse, the future of the MCU will never be the same after this.

The MCU Was About Redemption... Until It Wasn't

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy

The characters in the MCU may be imbued with special abilities that set them apart from the average human (i.e. super strength, the power of flight, telekineses), but they're still incredibly relatable. Audiences may be wowed by these powers, but its best aspect of the Marvel formula that keeps them hooked; the idea that defeating the odds is a wholly conceivable possibility - even (or especially) when those odds stem from a shady past.

In fact, Marvel Studios has actively honored redemptive arcs well before the MCU was even conceived (and not just in terms of action taking place on camera, but behind the scenes as well). Prior to 2008's Iron ManMarvel decided to have their success ride on the back of someone whose reputation in Hollywood was hardly glowing: Robert Downey Jr. Today, he's the comeback story of the century, but in the not-so-distant past, Downey Jr. was a far cry from the man he is today. Addiction, rehab, and jail time nearly killed the prolific actor's career for good, but he did as any hero in the MCU would do and redeemed himself. So, sure, the MCU is a multi-billion dollar enterprise with international appeal, but it's built on the backs of underdogs. It's honed in on the human element of its characters (warts and all), and the superpowers have only ever been a fancy polish on an already beloved product.

More specifically, the Guardians of the Galaxy series especially lives by this formula. The characters in this series are made up of a group comprised of criminals who were once famously referred to as "a bunch of a-holes," and yet... they overcame the worst parts of themselves. So, when the studio in which this sort of formula exists ignores said formula, it's evident that something is wrong. If James Gunn's entire creative future is riding on some poor choices he made in the past, then the MCU's entire MO is essentially as artificial as Ultron's brain.

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Key Release Dates
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 release date:
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
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