The exit of James Gunn from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is far from over. We’re now a couple of weeks removed from when Disney announced that Gunn had been fired from directing Guardians of the Galaxy 3 over offensive tweets he had posted years ago, but the debacle is ongoing. The entire Guardians cast subsequently released a statement in support of Gunn, saying they advocated for his rehiring, and Dave Bautista has gone so far as to say that he’ll ask to be released from his contract if Disney doesn’t use Gunn’s existing Guardians 3 script.
We now have a bit of clarity on the matter via THR, which reports that Disney does indeed plan on using James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy 3 script, even if he won’t be rehired as director. The Guardians franchise has undeniably been very personal to Gunn, and the filmmaker planned on wrapping up a trilogy of sorts with Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3. Filming wasn’t set to begin until early 2019 so the script no doubt still needed tinkering, so it’ll be interesting to see if Disney/Marvel Studios brings someone else in to get the script into shooting form—assuming Guardians 3 does indeed move forward.
THR notes that Gunn is currently locked in complicated negotiations with Disney over his exit. He didn’t have a “pay-or-play” deal, which means the filmmaker gets paid whether the movie gets made with him/her or not. But he also didn’t breach his contract, so a settlement must be reached on how much Gunn deserves to be paid for his services, especially if they use his script. THR estimates that to be in the $7 million to $10 million range, if not higher.
As long as these negotiations continue, Gunn won’t be taking on another project. But that doesn’t mean he’s not in demand. THR says the Slither filmmaker is drawing interest from a variety of sources, from Warner Bros. (which maintains the DC Universe…) to Oscar-winning producers. Gunn is not permitted to entertain other offers while his negotiation with Disney is ongoing, but it sounds like he’s going to have a lot of options once this ridiculous ordeal is over.
As previously reported, Disney is unlikely to rehire Gunn as director, so it’ll be interesting to see A. Who they get to take his place and B. What Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has to say about the matter. Gunn’s firing was made at the Disney executive level, not at Marvel, so that puts Feige in a tight spot.
More will be revealed soon, and I have no doubt that Gunn will land on his feet, but this has been a discouraging situation all around. I suppose the use of Gunn’s script should come as some minor comfort, but even then his sensibilities are so specific, it’s nearly impossible for Guardians of the Galaxy 3 to feel like a “James Gunn movie” without him in the director’s chair.