James Gunn Breaks Silence on Disney Firing Him, Rehiring Him, and The Character Arc He's Most Excited About in GUARDIANS VOL. 3

James Gunn recently sat down with Deadline for an interview in which he completely opened up about the crazy drama that unfolded around him when he was fired as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. He also talks about being rehired to direct it, the things he learned from all of the madness, and the story arc for a character of Guardians Vol. 3 that he’s most excited about telling.

When talking about the distasteful posts of his that resurfaced and how he felt about Disney firing him, Gunn said:

“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.

“That first day… I’m going to say it was the most intense of my entire life. There have been other difficult days in my life, from the time I got sober when I was younger, to the death of friends who committed suicide. But this was incredibly intense. It happened, and suddenly it seemed like everything was gone. I just knew, in a moment that happened incredibly quickly, I had been fired. It felt as if my career was over.”

It wasn’t over, though. Warner Bros. snatched him up pretty fast to write and direct DC’s The Suicide Squad. It was while he was talking to WB about that when Disney came to him to hire him back. When asked about how he felt when Alan Horn invited him back to direct Guardians Vol. 3, he said:

“I was about to sit down and talk about Suicide Squad with DC and I was excited about that. Alan asked me to come talk to him. 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. I’ve known him a little, going back to the Scooby-Doo movies. I’ve always liked and admired him. I was touched by his compassion.

“You hear in Hollywood that everybody’s cutthroat. That’s true of a section of this industry, but there’s also a lot of really good people. I’m always attracted to finding that goodness in places we don’t expect, often in the characters in my movies. 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.”

He went on to say that the initial conversations with Alan weren’t, “Let’s figure out if I should come back. It was, Let’s talk about this. It was like the break-up of my marriage. I got divorced, and then had those conversations with my ex-wife: Let’s get along as well as we possibly can and be kind to each other because we’re both a large part of each other’s lives.”

He obviously had the intention of continuing to have a good relationship with Disney, even after all of the crazy drama that went down. He went on to say, “I didn’t want to look back and feel bitter, upset or angry. Of course all sorts of emotions are attached to it. But I just wanted to be comfortable saying goodbye and splitting up, and that’s where my head was at, even in the very early meeting we had, a week or two weeks after it all happened.”

I have to say that I really do like how Gunn handled this whole thing and his attempt to try and keep things on a positive note. That obviously wasn’t something that was easy to do in a situation like that.

Gunn was then asked what characters or themes he was most exited about focusing on in Guardians Vol. 3 and he explained that it was Rocket’s story, because he is that character:

“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.”

Rocket is definitely one of my favorite characters in the MCU, so it’s good to know that the character will get some special attention in this next chapter of Guardians.

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