In a genuinely shocking move, Disney has decided to reinstate James Gunn as the writer-director of Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Gunn was fired off of the film last year after old, poor-taste pedophile jokes of his resurfaced online. Gunn immediately apologized, owned up to his mistakes, and explained how much he’d grown as a person since he posted those jokes years prior, but Disney CEO Bob Iger and President Alan Horn made the decision to remove Gunn from the director’s chair on Guardians 3, which had planned to start filming in early 2019.
Per Deadline, Horn and Gunn continued to meet on multiple occasions after his firing, and persuaded by Gunn’s apology and how he handled the situation (he never seemed sour and stated that he understood Disney’s decision when he was removed), Horn has decided to reverse course and reinstate Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Which now poses a huge scheduling problem.
In the wake of Gunn’s firing, the Slither filmmaker was snatched up by Warner Bros. and set to write and possibly direct their DC Comics Suicide Squad sequel. Gunn crafted a script everyone was happy about posthaste, and that film—titled The Suicide Squad—is now due to begin filming this fall.
However, Disney is understanding, and both Disney and Marvel Studios have agreed to postpone filming on Guardians of the Galaxy 3 until after Gunn completes The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros./DC. If this isn’t unprecedented, I’ll be very surprised. We’ve seen actors switch between Marvel and DC before—even Thor actor Idris Elba is now in talks to replace Will Smith in The Suicide Squad—but never a writer-director. Gunn will now have the pleasure of writing and directing a weird DC superhero team-up movie before moving on to writing and directing a weird Marvel superhero team-up movie.
With this agreement, that means Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 probably won’t start filming until late 2020 at the very earliest, so I wouldn’t expect the film in theaters before 2022. But even those dates are fluid, as Chris Pratt‘s schedule continues to fill up and he’s got Jurassic World 3 to start shooting later this year. The important thing is that whenever cameras roll, Gunn will be there.
Deadline says Marvel never met with any other directors for Guardians 3, so perhaps Marvel head Kevin Feige was hoping this thing would work out in due time. Indeed, the resurfacing of Gunn’s old tweets were promoted via right wing media, no doubt in direct response to Gunn’s constant and vocal criticism of the Trump Administration and the GOP in general. So much of the “outrage” over said tweets was the very definition of a bad faith argument.
Through this all, Gunn had already completed his script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which he intended to conclude his trilogy of films with this particular team. Marvel maintained they would use Gunn’s script even if he didn’t direct, but it’s now very nice to know the filmmaker will be back behind the camera as the writer-director of this entire trilogy.