In a surprising reversal, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who was fired from the project last year for a series of controversial tweets, has reportedly been re-hired by Disney for the series’ third installment. Deadline reports that the decision was actually made several months ago, and suggests the information was leaked now so that Gunn can discuss it as part of the upcoming press cycle for the May release Brightburn, which he produced.
Gunn, who directed and wrote or co-wrote the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, is the closest thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to a bona fide auteur, and though Guardians Vol. 3, which was slated for release next year, would still have used Gunn’s script, many expressed doubt that another director would be able to seamlessly pick up where he left off. The movie’s cast was vocal in their support for Gunn, with Dave Bautista, who plays Drax the Destroyer, going so far as to say he would quit the franchise before making a Guardians movie for anyone else. And directors who were rumored to be in consideration to replace Gunn were likewise cool on the prospect. “For me, those are James Gunn’s films,” said Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waiti. “Going into something like that with his stamp all over his films would be like going into someone’s house and saying, ‘Hey, I’m your new dad, and this is how we make peanut butter sandwiches now.’ It feels kind of awkward.”
Gunn’s tweets, which were first resurfaced by right-wing trolls Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, made repeated jokes about pedophilia, and the ensuing furor led to Gunn’s ouster. He was subsequently hired by DC Comics to direct the sequel to Suicide Squad, and it’s not yet clear which movie will come first or how the scheduling will be worked out. But with Avengers: Endgame a little over a month away, Marvel is due for a major announcement about what comes next, and Gunn’s Guardians 3 is sure to be at the top of that list.