Last summer, James Gunn was on top of the world. And then he wasn’t. The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise filmmaker was fired by Disney after offensive joke tweets from his past resurfaced, and despite fan outcry defending Gunn, it looked like his days with Marvel were over – especially when word broke that he was heading over to DC and Warner Bros. to direct the Suicide Squad sequel. But in March of this year, Marvel and Disney reversed their decision, and rehired Gunn to helm the third Guardians entry. In a new interview, Gunn gets candid about his Guardians of the Galaxy firing and rehiring.
After his firing, and eventual rehiring, James Gunn kept mostly quiet, save for a few words on social media. Now, in an interview with Deadline, Gunn is opening up about the experience. Gunn admits that as time passed, he thought there was no chance in hell he’d be asked to return to Disney. “I was writing Suicide Squad and thought of Guardians 3 as being long gone,” the director says.
But Disney’s Alan Horn ended up giving Gunn a second chance, something Gunn is grateful for. “I really believe he is a good man and I think he hired me back because he thought that was the right thing to do,” he says of Horn. “I got a little bit teary-eyed in his office. And then I had to go tell Kevin Feige I had just decided to do Suicide Squad, so that made me very nervous.”
After all is said and done, Gunn takes full responsibility for the entire experience, and never held a grudge against Disney for firing him:
“I don’t blame anyone. I feel and have felt bad for a while about some of the ways I spoke publicly; some of the jokes I made, some of the targets of my humor, just the unintentional consequences of not being more compassionate in what I’m putting out there. I know that people have been hurt by things that I’ve said, and that’s still my responsibility, that I wasn’t as compassionate as I should be in what I say. I feel bad for that and take full responsibility. Disney totally had the right to fire me. This wasn’t a free speech issue. I said something they didn’t like and they completely had the right to fire me. There was never any argument of that.”
While he admits that the day he was fired was “the most intense” day of his entire life, and that he worried his career was over, his “fears were allayed immediately” when Jason Blum got up at a panel at Comic-Con and said he’d be happy to hire Gunn in the wake of his sudden firing.
“The studios, for the most part, said, ‘We’d love to have you,’” says Gunn. “They called within the first two days. But I didn’t believe it. That’s the thing that I have to be honest about. On some theoretical level, I was like, ‘Well, maybe I do have a future.’ I’m a fairly logic-oriented person and that helped, but emotionally, there was not a whole lot there to hold onto.”
Of course, everything worked out in the end. Gunn is now set to make both The Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Of the Suicide Squad sequel, the filmmaker claims that he hasn’t had as “much fun writing a script since maybe Dawn of the Dead.”
As for Guardians 3, Gunn reveals that what he’s most excited about is finishing Rocket Raccoon’s arc. “Rocket is me, he really is, even if that sounds narcissistic,” says Gunn. “I relate to Rocket and I feel compassion for Rocket, but I also feel like his story has not been completed.”
The Suicide Squad is due out August 6, 2021, and the Gunn-produced BrightBurn will hit theaters May 24, 2019. No date has been revealed for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 yet.
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