Disney reportedly rehires James Gunn to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Director James Gunn.
(Image credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Staff)

Nearly eight months after firing James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Disney has suddenly changed its mind.

Gunn, who was removed from the Marvel sequel in July 2018 when offensive jokes he made on Twitter years earlier resurfaced, has been rehired to direct the movie, reported Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter on Friday.

This is jaw-dropping news for a number of reasons, one being that Gunn had previously been set to write and direct The Suicide Squad for Marvel Studios' competitor, DC, which seemed to close the door on any potential return to Vol. 3. Even before that, though, Disney had shown no signs that it was considering a reversal, with CEO Bob Iger telling the Reporter in September that he has never "second-guessed" the decision.

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But Disney had faced criticism for its move, especially considering the tweets were dug up by far-right personality Mike Cernovich because Gunn is a vocal critic of President Trump. The cast of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies spoke out against the decision at the time, saying in an open letter that "we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality."

Strangely, Deadline reports that the decision to bring Gunn back was made "months ago." Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn reportedly met with Gunn several times and was "persuaded" by his apology; Gunn had said that his old tweets were "totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative" and that he has "regretted them for many years since."

The plan is now for Gunn to work on both The Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the Reporter says, meaning he'll be making extremely similar comic book films for competing studios back-to-back. DC's film will reportedly come first, and it's set for release in 2021.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.