James Gunn has opened up about Disney firing him as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as well his feelings on the Mouse House’s equally surprising decision to rehire him. Until now, Gunn has remained largely silent on the high-profile issue, revealing little beyond his gratitude to be back on the project.
Gunn was meant to direct the third Guardians installment, as he had done with the previous two. However, Disney fired Gunn as the director last July after some old, offensive tweets resurfaced. Many were shocked by the company’s decision, although the director himself took full responsibility for his actions. Many fans were outraged and the petition to rehire Gunn amassed several hundred thousand signatures. An open letter voicing support for the auteur was signed by the Guardians of the Galaxy cast, although some actors were more vocal about their disapproval of Disney’s choice than others. Despite the apparent lack of effort being made to hire a replacement, many assumed that would be the end of the story. Then, after much speculation about the franchise’s future, Disney wound up rehiring Gunn a few months ago.
Gunn has shared his feelings with Deadline, opening up about the entire experience of being both fired and rehired to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He talked about his discussion with Disney's Alan Horn in regard to hiring him back and how it left the director feeling "teary-eyed." Gunn admitted that prior to their conversation, he thought Guardians was “long gone.” He even likened the situation to his divorce, stating:
“I would hate to look back on the six years that my wife and I were together and think, Oh, what a waste of time. Instead, I think it was a time when I really grew a lot and we were really good to each other. There were some problems, and we just weren’t supposed to be married, but it was well worth living that six years with my ex. 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.”
Gunn continues to take responsibility for his firing, explaining that “Disney totally had the right” to let him go. The director also discussed the immense pressure of the situation and how it made him feel. He explained:
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.
Gunn then went on to say that although it was a terrible day, it was also a great one, in that he realized how loved he truly was. The filmmaker was touched by the outpouring of support from his friends, family and others in the community.
Gunn may have worried that his career was over, but he learned rather quickly that this was not the case. Not only will he direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but he is also helming The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros. Prior to Gunn’s rehiring, Disney’s competitor scooped up the filmmaker to direct the movie, which is set to give the franchise a complete overhaul. Although he is hard at work on the DC film, Guardians 3 will still begin filming earlier than expected.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had a redemptive arc woven into its DNA from the very beginning, both in the fictional story of Tony Stark and with the very real way in which Robert Downey Jr. turned his life around after being cast in the role. Gunn now has his own opportunity for redemption and fans are overjoyed to see him given that chance. He not only had a major hand in shaping the cosmic side of the MCU, but also made household names out of some of Marvel’s most offbeat characters. It’s exciting to consider where Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will take them.
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