James Gunn Talks His Firing And Rehiring From Guardians Of The Galaxy

James Gunn

by James White |
Published on

James Gunn's firing from the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise, and his wider role in helping with Marvel's cosmic plans after offensive and inappropriate old joke tweets surfaced sent shockwaves around fandom and beyond. Then, less than a year later, he was reinstated. He hasn't said a lot about the turbulent time beyond being thankful for his return, but he's now opened up to Deadline on the issue.

"I don’t blame anyone," he says of his initial reaction to being sacked. "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."

Gunn admits that while he was worried about his future, the fact that other studios were looking to hire him so soon after the initial Disney debacle gave him hope. "I didn’t know what I believed. The news that I was hired back, it was a big story for a day and then it’s done. When all this happened, it went for days and days and days. As much as I wasn’t reading the news, I was feeling the shrapnel constantly through all of the texts and calls from my friends and family who were so upset at this or that. I finally had to be like, 'Guys, I can’t focus on all the negative stuff right now, it just hurts me.'

"The studios, for the most part, said, 'We’d love to have you.' 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. That was good for me, too, because what I needed to do was stop making my career be what makes me worthwhile and start making me just be OK as myself. That is what I concentrated on. I concentrated on the fun."

Switching gears to talk about his next directing job, The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros. and DC, Gunn says that he's happy with the work he put into writing it, even amidst the chaos. "The Suicide Squad sequel, it just instantly started flowing. I don’t think I’ve had as much fun writing a script since maybe Dawn Of The Dead. That’s what this whole movie has been like."

He's also upfront about what he was most worried about losing in terms of his Guardians future: "When you asked me what was saddest for me when I thought it was gone – and anybody at Marvel can tell you – it’s this very strange and attached relationship to Rocket. Rocket is me, he really is, even if that sounds narcissistic. Groot is like my dog. I love Groot in a completely different way. I relate to Rocket and I feel compassion for Rocket, but I also feel like his story has not been completed. He has an arc that started in the first movie, continued into the second and goes through Infinity War and Endgame, and then I was set to really finish that arc in Guardians 3. That was a big loss to me – not being able to finish that story – though I was comforted by the fact that they were still planning to use my script." For more from the writer/director, head to Deadline.

Gunn will shoot The Suicide Squad first, with that film due on 6 August 2021, and the third Guardians likely to follow in 2022.

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