Today, July 20, 2019, marks one year since Disney fired Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn from upcoming sequel Guardians of the Galaxy 3, so why was he sacked and what's happened since then? Gunn is now set to helm Guardians of the Galaxy 3 once more, but his time in the MCU looked to be over for good this time last year when Disney made the shock announcement that he'd been sacked and the project was put on hold indefinitely.
Although Gunn had already made Guardians of the Galaxy 1 & 2 and written a first draft for Guardians of the Galaxy 3, he was fired on July 20, 2018, when a number of old tweets made by the director were brought to light. Prior to joining the MCU, and thus Disney, Gunn was mostly known as an edgy, provocative filmmaker, and this was reflected by his Twitter account, which was full of crude and offensive jokes. These included topics such as pedophilia, rape, 9/11, and the Holocaust. These tweets were first reported on by right-wing news site The Daily Caller, which was then followed by calls for Disney to fire Gunn from far-right personalities such as Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec.
Disney moved swiftly on the matter, with Gunn fired from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 just a day after the original story on his old tweets had been published. Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, released a statement saying: "The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him."
Gunn then released his own statement, apologizing for the tweets, stating how much he regretted them, that they didn't reflect the person he was now, and that he nonetheless understood the business decision taken by Disney. Despite the disappointment from fans of Guardians of the Galaxy and a show of support from the film's cast, with Dave Bautista particularly vocal about wanting Disney to rehire Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy 3, that did initially seem to be the end of it.
Although Disney and Marvel were committed to using Gunn's script for Guardians of the Galaxy 3, the search reportedly went on for a new director, with the following months bringing a slew of rumors, with names like Taika Waititi, Travis Knight, and Adam McKay all linked with taking on the Guardians of the Galaxy 3 job. However, no replacement was ever announced, and these were accompanied by various reports of Gunn having meetings with Disney about a potential return, either to Guardians 3 or another MCU film, but nothing ever really materialized in the wake of his firing.
Marvel's loss then appeared to be DC's gain when it was announced that Gunn had signed on to write and direct The Suicide Squad back in October 2018, which was not only an exciting move for the DCEU sequel, but seemingly ruled out a return to the MCU once and for all. That was the case until March 15, 2019, when, almost eight months after they fired him, Disney announced they had rehired James Gunn to direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
It represented a major change in thinking from Disney, with Horn supposedly impressed by how genuinely remorseful Gunn had been after his firing, while further reports later emerged saying Disney had never searched for a new director. Many of the obvious choices had distanced themselves from the job in support of Gunn, and with the entire cast and fanbase backing him, Gunn's own apology, and the fact his script was being used, it ultimately made a lot of sense to bring him back for Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
Gunn still has to honor his commitment to The Suicide Squad first, but it's expected that he'll enter production on Guardians of the Galaxy 3 once his work with DC has finished. It's a huge turnaround for Gunn, who emerges as the winner with two big franchises under his command now, but it's also a victory for the MCU since it means Gunn gets to complete his vision with Guardians of the Galaxy 3.