Gunn will direct GotG Vol. 3 after he completes Suicide Squad 2.
James Gunn has been reinstated as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy 3 after he was fired following a Twitter scandal last summer, Deadline reports and IGN can confirm. Gunn will direct the project after he concludes his work on Warner Bros.’s Suicide Squad 2, which he is also slated to write and direct.
According to Deadline, the decision to rehire Gunn actually “was mulled and actually made months ago, following conversations with Disney studio leadership and the team at Marvel Studios.” The site says the decision to reverse the firing of Gunn came after Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn and Gunn met “on multiple occasions to discuss the situation. Persuaded by Gunn’s public apology and his handling of the situation after, Horn decided to reverse course and reinstate Gunn.”
Following his firing from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Gunn came on board to write and direct Suicide Squad 2, which won’t serve as a direct sequel to the David Ayer movie but instead a relaunch with new characters and cast members. As recently as March 6, reports were coming out that Idris Elba is in talks to join the upcoming DC title, replacing Will Smith as Deadshot. WB’s Suicide Squad 2 is slated for an August 6, 2021 release date.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s production, which was supposed to begin in fall 2018, was put on hold following Gunn’s firing and a replacement director was never found. Interestingly, Deadline writes that, despite reports to the contrary, Marvel “never met with or considered any other director” for the movie, despite repeated speculation that both Taika Waititi and Adam McKay were being courted to direct. Kevin Feige revealed in February that Gunn’s script was still going to be used for Vol. 3.
Gunn was originally fired by Disney on July 20th following the resurfacing of controversial tweets he made about topics such as rape and pedophilia, primarily during the years of 2008 and 2009. At the time, Horn released a statement that said, “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’s firing was met with immediate backlash both from his Guardians of the Galaxy cast members and fans. Dave Bautista, who plays Drax, has been the most outspoken of the Marvel stars, repeatedly bringing up that he considered the firing to be the wrong call from Disney. Meanwhile Chris Pratt, who plays Star-Lord, tweeted after Gunn’s firing: “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters. Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. JAMES 1:19.”
Back in October, fans spent $4,000 on a billboard in Anaheim, Calif. — only four miles from Disneyland — to petition Disney to rehire Gunn. A Change.org petition to rehire Gunn got 430,000 signatures at the time of this article’s publish.
Gunn’s tweets were surfaced by a conservative news website, The Daily Caller, timed to his planned appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, which was later canceled. The subsequent online backlash against Gunn led to Disney’s decision to fire him. At the time, Gunn released a statement that read:
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time. Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 does not currently have a planned release date, though it was originally intended to hit theaters in 2020 as part of the early wave of Disney’s post-Avengers: Endgame films. The original cast, including Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bautista, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel are expected to return.
What do you think about Gunn’s reinstatement as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Did Disney make the right call? Let us know in the comments below!
Terri Schwartz is Editor-in-Chief of Entertainment at IGN. Talk to her on Twitter at @Terri_Schwartz.