In some truly surprising entertainment news, Deadline are reporting that James Gunn has been reinstated as the writer-director of Guardians of the Galaxy 3, a claim the site says they have confirmed with both Marvel and Gunn’s teams.
James Gunn was fired last July by Disney after an alt-right journalist dug up some of his old tweets that revealed some very upsetting jokes made regarding paedophilia and rape. Executives at Disney had been asked repeatedly about the decision, particularly regarding the potentially dangerous precedent set by bowing down to bigoted bloggers and ‘journalists’ targeting people for speaking out against Donald Trump, but they remained steadfast in their decisions. According to Deadline, the decision to bring Gunn back on board ‘was one that was mulled and actually made months ago, following conversations with Disney studio leadership and the team at Marvel Studios.’ After the firing, Gunn reportedly met with Walt Disney Studios president Alan Horn, and he made the decision to reinstate Gunn. This story comes after it was revealed that Gunn has signed on to DC’s Suicide Squad sequel-slash-reboot, and Deadline claims that he will commence production on the third Guardians of the Galaxy film after he’s done with that job. That means he will join Joss Whedon as the only other director to have worked on both the Marvel and DC universes.
Personally, I think this was the right choice to make. Gunn’s tweets were gross and hurtful and I don’t blame anyone for still being offended by them. I certainly am. I also don’t think he should ever have been fired for them, especially since their return to the spotlight was the result of a bad faith hit-job by a right-wing bully that set an insidious precedence for corporations and their relationships with creators who dare to be politically vocal. I know a lot of people will be grumbling that Gunn didn’t really suffer and that there are people out there who have faced much more harmful ire than he did. Both points are true, and it was never in doubt that Gunn’s career would be okay in the long-term. The problem here was how one of the most powerful entertainment entities on the planet gave in almost instantly to a far-right agenda, and the long-term effects that could have had on thousands of people.
It also feels worth noting that Gunn showed genuine contrition for his sh*tty rhetoric. He didn’t pull a Kevin Hart and double down, nor did he play the victim (and he had previously apologized for said offensive jokes years prior to last summer’s scandal).
Gunn should be rehired, although if I were him, I would be tempted to just take the DC money and run. My guess is that, as well as actually understanding why the initial sacking was wrong, Disney were keen to take him back because A) the Guardians films are big money makers and helped to shape the MCU in large part thanks to his creative leadership, B) the franchise is a big part of their long-term plans both in and out of the films (there is set to be a Guardians attraction at Epcot) and they need Gunn’s guidance for that, and C) they couldn’t get any other directors to take a meeting to take on that gig. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting that responsibility.
I’m sure this decision will anger some, but I think it’s a positive step forward for Disney. It’s nice to see a mega-corporation beholden to nobody actually learn from its mistakes once in a while.
UPDATE: The man himself confirms it on Twitter.
Header Image Source: Getty Images.