Disney Fired James Gunn…And Quickly Rehired Him. Three Years Later, Gunn Reflects On The Whirlwind
There was a time when Disney fired James Gunn and he wasn’t going to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. It was a dark time for fandom. Gunn, who’s always pushed the boundaries in his comedy, went a little too far when he was younger, and posted some unfortunate tweets. In 2018, a group of right-wing personalities dug up the tweets and flooded them over the internet. Later that day, Disney decided to fire Gunn. Shortly after that, Warner Bros hired him for The Suicide Squad. And shortly after that, Disney rehired him for Guardians Vol 3 and a Guardians of the Galaxy Christmas special. But that firing has kind of become infamous, and not an interview goes by where James Gunn isn’t asked about that time Disney fired him.
When Disney Fired James Gunn From Marvel Studios, it Was a Shock…for Marvel Studios
(Image: Marvel Studios)
Marvel executive producer, Kevin Feige, has a pretty good relationship with the directors of the MCU. And that kind of trust is helpful when all of a sudden your job is on the line. “I called Kevin the morning it was going on, and I said, ‘Is this a big deal?’ And he goes, ‘I don’t know.’ That was a moment. I was like, ‘You don’t know?’ I was surprised,” Gunn recalled in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “Later he called me — he himself was in shock — and told me what the powers that be had decided.”
That’s right. When Disney fired James Gunn, not even Feige had a say in the decision. Even though he has literally made Disney billions of dollars. Probably closer to a trillion if you count merchandising. However, “there’s no doubt Kevin Feige is way more involved with editing than people are at Warner Bros,” and makes most of the creative directions at Marvel. As Gunn describes, “ gives more notes” but that “you don’t have to take them and I don’t always take them.” When it comes to a major decision like firing one of the most beloved directors in your franchise, Feige is the last person who should have been shocked “by the powers that be.”
Cancel Culture May Have Influenced Disney’s Decision – But He Isn’t Angry About That
Image via screengrab
After Disney fired James Gunn, people who worked with him united in his defense, especially the Guardians of the Galaxy themselves. As for himself, Gunn released a statement, saying he “ the business decisions taken today,” He also pointed out that the tweets “don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”
But when asked if he was a victim of cancel culture, Gunn didn’t decry the actions. Instead, he acknowledged that we need to be able to cancel some people:
“It’s such a bigger issue than that. Because cancel culture also is people like Harvey Weinstein, who should be canceled. People who have gotten canceled and then remain canceled — most of those people deserved that. The paparazzi are not just the people on the streets — they’re the people combing Twitter for any past sins. All of that sucks. It’s painful. But some of it is accountability. And that part of it is good. It’s just about finding that balance.”
Though Disney fired James Gunn three years ago, it still feels fresh, maybe because he has this little film coming out this summer: The Suicide Squad, which will feature James Gunn’s biggest action scene yet. Now, when it comes to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, will he go even bigger. Or maybe Disney will let him make the Guardians of the Galaxy Christmas Special the R-rated film we all know it should be.
(Featured Image: Marvel Studios)
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.