Guardians 3 Director Defends Gender-Swap Decision Amid Backlash

By Jennifer McDonough Updated:
Guardians 3 Marvel Studios MCU

James Gunn reacted to those who questioned his decision to gender-swap a key Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 character.

Marvel Studios’ latest entry into the MCU has made waves. Indeed, Guardians 3 has been the most critically praised Marvel movie in over a year.

Fans loved its emotionally resonant story, in-depth characterizations, and over-the-top action sequences. But it was impossible to please everyone.

James Gunn Reacts to Cosmo Controversy

Cosmo in Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn took to Twitter to respond to those who took issue with Cosmo the Spacedog being female in the movie. On the pages of Marvel Comics, the character has always been portrayed as a male dog; however, Cosmo was swapped for the big-screen blockbuster.

On Twitter, Logan78106803 inquired of Gunn: 

“Why did you make cosmo a female when he had always been known as a good boy”

Gunn defended his decision, referencing the real-world dog Laika, who was one of the first animals in space:

“Because Cosmo is based on Laika, the Russian dog, who was a female, so I gender-swapped her back.”

Notgoingsane also tweeted their views on the situation, believing that the gender change didn't serve a purpose in the movie:

“But it makes no sense why to change it. Keeping it wasn't inaccurate as the comic is a male dog It serves no purpose to change it. The original comic was a male dog you are not 'changing it back' because it was never a female in the first place. Only inspired by.”

In his reply, James Gunn namedropped other Guardians characters, such as Drax and Mantis, who he modified from their comic versions:

“I’d rather honor the real dog who died in outer space. Cosmo would not exist without Laika. By the way, I changed Mantis, Drax, High Evo, and others from humans to aliens, which seems a bigger change. Why does it upset you so much?“

That same Twitter user doubled down on their complaint:

“Because the whole point of an adaptation is to adapt. You adapt the source material as I stated. And I hate comics changing established characters as well (unless they state its a multiverse thing.)”

And Gunn had none of it, emphasizing the process of adaptation:

“It’s always a multiverse thing. That’s what the MCU is - a different version of Earth 616. And, again, you should look up the meaning of ‘adapt.’“

James Gunn is no stranger to gender-swapping characters, having done so with Daniela Melchior's Ratcatcher II in The Suicide Squad.

Ratcatcher is traditionally depicted as male in DC Comics and was altered to be female in the film adaptation, only for the portrayal to receive acclaim upon the movie's release.

Marvel also continues to gender-swap characters when it serves the story, having recently done so with Moon Knight's Scarlet Scarab through the character of Layla, Olivia Colman's Sonya Falsworth in Secret Invasion, and Zawe Ashton's Dar-Benn in The Marvels.

Gunn Continues To Shoot Straight

James Gunn is no stranger to calling out people on Twitter. Whether it be because they’re spouting falsehoods or being impolite, Gunn is usually there to set the record straight.

This is an element of his personality that will be interesting to observe as he further settles into his leadership position as CEO of DC Studios. He’s already cleared up several misconceptions about the pre-production process of 2025’s Superman: Legacy.

It’s refreshing to see a creator, especially one who is so high up on the totem pole, be so willing to respond to individuals on Twitter, which, incidentally, he often does in a more friendly capacity to those who are more respectful.

And as for Cosmo, while the character may be male in certain continuities, it’s admirable that Gunn wanted to honor Laika, the real-life canine, in his movie. And does her gender really matter all that much, either in the context of the film or the grand scheme of things? 

Cosmo’s character turned out to be popular among fans and she even gets a memorable moment in Guardians 3 to showcase her powerful telekinetic abilities. Plus, she also earns herself a spot on the new Guardians roster, as showcased in Vol 3’s mid-credits scene.

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now playing In theaters everywhere.

- In This Article: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release Date
May 05, 2023
- About The Author: Jennifer McDonough
Jennifer McDonough has been a writer at The Direct since its 2020 launch. She is responsible for the creation of news articles and features. She also has a particular affinity for action figures and merchandise, which she revels in discussing in the articles she writes, when the situation calls for it.