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All The Damage Firing James Gunn Has Had For Marvel

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Marvel and Disney’s firing of James Gunn from the Guardians of the Galaxy 3 has already had a significant effect on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the decision was apparently made in an effort to preserve the brand's image, the true impact will leave longer lasting effects for the company beyond his mere absence from the MCU.

It has been over three months since the Guardians of the Galaxy director was fired from the MCU following attention brought to old tweets he had written which joked about controversial topics like rape and pedophilia. As well as being let go from directing the upcoming third installment of the Guardians series, Gunn was also dismissed from his role in helping Marvel expand its planned Cosmic Universe. The firing led to a PR nightmare for Disney, in part due to the politically contentious circumstances surrounding the unearthing of Gunn's tweets. An array of stars came out in support of Gunn, as well as an overwhelming wave of criticism directed at Disney and Marvel from all corners of the industry and internet. A Change.org petition urging Disney to re-hire Gunn has received over 422,000 signatures as of the writing of this post.

Related: Why Rehiring James Gunn Is Harder For Disney Than Fans Realize

Disney remains steadfast in their decision to fire Gunn, and three months on from his departure, it’s become clear that he won’t be returning to the MCU. Yet the ramifications of that choice are evident throughout every corner of Disney and Marvel’s business plan. Not only is the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy series in limbo but the wider expansion of the MCU post-Avengers 4 is in question and the political aftermath of Gunn’s absence remains a hot-button topic. It seems clear to many that his firing was a decision made without much thought for the long-term game plan of the MCU, and now Disney must grapple with the aftermath. The damage firing James Gunn has had for Marvel goes beyond a few weeks of awkward headlines.

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Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Was Delayed

James Gunn confirmed he was returning to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 during the press tour for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with it eventually becoming clear that the film would release in 2020 (likely in Marvel's May slot). Everything was gearing up for an early 2019 production start-date, but that was thrown off entirely by Gunn's firing.

At first, it wasn't clear what the impact on the film would be, with hopes of Gunn being rehired or a quick replacement. This ended up not being the case, and eventually, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was put on indefinite hold, delaying it at the very least. The latest rumors suggest the film won't roll cameras until 2021, although even if it's sooner the film will still be delayed by a year or more.

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Many have speculated that, rather than delaying the film, Marvel will scrap a third Guardians movie altogether and do a Thor-focused story to make up for the gap in their cosmic universe expansion. That would mean the Guardians’ story ends at the fourth Avengers movie, leaving room for the group to be completely snapped from existence even after Thanos is inevitably defeated. Yet, while the film has undergone the expected reshoots, that kind of change seems a little drastic and reactionary when Guardians of the Galaxy 3 still has plenty of value without James Gunn.

Page 2: How Marvel (And DC's) 2020 Plans Changed

Key Release Dates
  • The Avengers 4 / Untitled Avengers Movie (2019) release date: May 03, 2019
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
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