In a remarkable turn of events, Disney has reinstated James Gunn as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Disney fired Gunn in July 2018, after old, offensive tweets from the filmmaker were resurfaced by conservative personalities online. The firing was controversial, with Guardians of the Galaxy stars including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and Dave Bautista signing an open letter asking for the filmmaker to be rehired. Bautista, in particular, had been outspoken in his support of Gunn.
Marvel Studios put Guardians 3 on hold, though Marvel head Kevin Feige and others involved have maintained they intended to make the film happen. Guardians 3 never had a release date, but Gunn previously said it would open in 2020.
In the weeks after firing Gunn, Disney began putting feelers out for new directors. But by mid-fall, the search seemed to have petered out, with many thinking that the project was on the backburner. What almost no one knew was that Marvel/Disney had gone back to Gunn and made a deal … in secret, according to insiders.
After the firing, Gunn moved on to Warner Bros. and DC to write and direct The Suicide Squad, which has Idris Elba set to star, with the filmmaker meeting with him earlier this month after Will Smith exited the franchise.
When Gunn was fired, he issued a statement apologizing for his previous tweets.
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,” his July 2018 statement read. “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