Marvel's Phase 4 slate has undergone a lot of changes since it was first put together. Obviously, many of those were due to the COVID-19 crisis interrupting filming and forcing cinemas around the world to close for an extended period of time, but there was another major shift even before the pandemic began.
In July 2018, Disney fired James Gunn from directing Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 due to backlash against old tweets of his that had resurfaced. They then rehired Gunn for the job in 2019, but by that point, he had already begun preparing for The Suicide Squad over at Warner Bros. Therefore, filming on the third Guardians film (which had already been pushed back after the initial announcement) would not be able to begin for quite a while.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 - which still has yet to start shooting - was originally supposed to be a 2020 release but is now looking likely to be a 2023 one.
However, the wait seems to be worth it for the cast, especially Drax actor Dave Bautista, who was very vocal about his opposition to Disney's decision to fire Gunn in the first place.
DAVE BAUTISTA COMMENDS DISNEY'S DECISION REVERSAL
In an interview with JoBlo, Dave Bautista was asked about his reaction to Gunn being reinstated as director of the third Guardians movie. In response, he commented on how it was "a big statement for Disney to go back on a decision like that" and that he is "very proud" of the company because of it:
"Obviously, I’m happy. Ecstatic. But, also I think it’s a big statement for Disney to go back on a decision like that. Like, I think that’s a huge statement, a very political statement. It’s not something they needed to do, not at that point, but they basically stepped back and did the right thing and I think that’s a huge statement. So, not to sound condescending, but I’m very proud of Disney. I’m sure that wasn’t easy for them, because they’re basically admitting to the world they made a mistake, they’re wrong. But, also, what that statement says goes a long way"
Bautista also said he's hopeful that his situation will "deter people from making rash decisions like that from the past:"
"So, hopefully that’ll stop-I don’t know if it’ll stop, but maybe it’ll deter people from making rash decisions like that from the past and people will see political attacks like that for what they are, cause that’s all it was really. It was a political attack and it was a rash decision, it was a bad decision. It empowered really horrible people. So, I think for them to go back when they didn’t have to at that point was a huge step. I’m very proud of them."
DISNEY'S PRIOR DILEMMA WITH JAMES GUNN
With the advent of social media, there are many more opportunities for celebrities to publicly state things they may later regret. Online platforms also give the public a louder voice than it would have otherwise, and people are now able to share their disdain for things others have said and done much more easily than ever before.
Obviously, decisions have consequences, even online ones. However, companies can make choices they later regret as well, and going back on them isn't always easy to do (whether from a practical, financial, or public image perspective).
While there have been a lot of different opinions on the James Gunn situation, it's clear that the cast and crew are happy to have him back in the director's chair for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Obviously, this shouldn't be (and likely wasn't) the only factor in Disney's decision reversal, but it's likely that this experience has made them much more hesitant to make high-impact choices like this before taking time to think things through.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has yet to enter production, but James Gunn's The Suicide Squad will be released in cinemas and on HBO Max August 6, 2021.