James Gunn re-hired as 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' director

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Forget Mary Poppins Returns: James Gunn returns, y’all! The writer/director behind the Marvel Studios blockbusters Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was unceremoniously fired from the third installment in the franchise last summer after years-old social media posts filled with offensive jokes resurfaced. Gunn himself reacted to the news on Twitter, writing: “I deeply appreciate Disney’s decision and I am excited to continue making films that investigate the ties of love that bind us all.”

Gunn’s exit last July sent shockwaves throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the entire Guardians cast — including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and Dave Bautista — signing a statement requesting his reinstatement. Bautista went even further with an open letter, going so far as to suggest that he’d quit Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in solidarity.

Initially, those pleas fell on deaf ears at the Walt Disney Company, which owns Marvel Studios. At the time, the company had just parted ways with Roseanne Barr after her own self-destructive Twitter habits led to the cancellation of the reboot of her classic ABC sitcom. Disney president, Alan Horn, seemed adamant about not reversing his decision on Gunn, who subsequently struck a deal with Warner Bros. to write and direct a sequel to the 2016 DC Comics-derived hit, Suicide Squad. In the meantime, other names were tossed about as potential replacements — including Thor: Ragnarok‘s Taika Waititi and Anchorman‘s Adam McKay — but little progress was being made.

James Gunn on the set of 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. (Photo: Jay Maidment/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Per Deadline, which broke the story of Gunn’s Guardians re-hiring, Disney and Marvel came to an agreement about his rehiring months ago, based on the groundswell of support the filmmaker enjoyed from within the studio, as well as the contrition he repeatedly displayed in public and in the press. The website also reports that the director will still meet his new squad before reuniting with his galactic squad. Production on The Suicide Squad — now headed up by Idris Elba, instead of Will Smith — is expected to begin this fall, and Disney agreed to push back the 2020 release date of Vol. 3 to accommodate Gunn’s schedule.

Gunn’s return to the Milano for Vol. 3 means that he’ll be the first director to direct an entire Marvel trilogy, making him the studio’s answer to Christopher Nolan. Twitter is predictably cheering the news.

Other Marvel directors weighed in with their congratulations as well, including Doctor Strange‘s Scott Derrickson and Ant-Man‘s Peyton Reed.

Crank up the ’70s soul tunes and show off your best dancing moves: the Guardians gang is back together. All of them… even Gamora.

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