Months after a manufactured controversy about crude tweets saw Disney eject Gunn from the third movie in his Marvel cosmic series, Marvel Studios has confirmed that, shockingly, the director will return after all.
Deadline reports that Gunn and Marvel have now confirmed that he will helm production on the third Guardians movie, and that the actual decision made to re-hire Gunn—brought about by Gunn’s apology over his prior tweets and through extensive talks between the director and Walt Disney Studios president Alan Horn—occurred months ago, despite allegations at the time that Disney was still not ready to bring the director back on board. io9 has confirmed with Disney that the details of Deadline’s report are accurate.
Gunn was removed from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in July of last year, after right-wing commentators resurfaced years-old crude commentary Gunn had made on social media, targeting the director for his outspoken disapproval of Donald Trump as part of what became a pattern of bad-faith harassment campaigns by internet trolls over the last year. Gunn immediately apologized for the tweets, but at the time, the apology was not enough for Disney.
Furor from both fans and members of Guardians cast in the months that followed led to production on the third movie in the saga—always rumored to be Gunn’s last with the current iteration of the cosmic superhero team that first ventured out in 2014's surprise smash hit movie—being put on hold, allegedly while a replacement for Gunn was sought out.
According to Deadline however, Marvel never actually met with another director for Guardians, despite rumors that Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi or Ant-Man’s Adam McKay could step in. Although complications arose when Gunn was snapped up by Warner Bros. to write and direct the DC Comics sequel The Suicide Squad last October, Kevin Feige’s team at Marvel Studio and Horn’s at Disney were willing to wait for Gunn to become available again before bringing him back to the fold.
Production on Guardians for Gunn will begin after production has concluded on The Suicide Squad, which is currently expected to hit theaters in August 2021.
Update: James Gunn has now weighed in, with his first tweet since July 19, 2018.
I am tremendously grateful to every person out there who has supported me over the past few months. I am always learning and will continue to work at being the best human being I can be. I deeply appreciate Disney’s decision and I am excited to continue making films that investigate the ties of love that bind us all. I have been, and continue to be incredibly humbled by your love and support. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Love to you all.
Correction: A previous version of this article credited Adam McKay to Ant-Man and the Wasp. McKay wrote the script to the first film, Ant-Man, while Paul Rudd and Chris McKenna wrote the sequels. io9 regrets the error.
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