Disney Exec Who Fired James Gunn 'Couldn't Sleep at Night' After Ousting, Says Director

By Russ Milheim Updated:
James Gunn, Disney, Guardians of the Galaxy

According to a new interview, one high-level executive at Disney couldn't sleep after firing James Gunn roughly five years ago.

On July 20, 2018, the man who made the Guardians of the Galaxy as famous as they are today was fired from the highly anticipated third entry. Why?

Well, conservative personalities resurfaced old tweets from the prolific filmmaker, ones which simply made the director look pretty bad. The catch was that these tweets were mostly posted back in 2008 and 2009—the difference of a decade changes nearly everyone.

Eventually, Disney saw that its choice was the wrong one and brought Gunn back on board. As it turns out, the decision had really gotten to one particular person.

The Inconceivable Firing of James Gunn

James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy

In a new interview with Empire Magazine, director James Gunn and the Guardians of the Galaxy cast spoke about the trying times of the director’s firing back in 2018, while also revealing that the choice never sat well with former Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, who was the one who decided to fire Gunn in 2018 before ultimately rehiring him in 2019.

Pom Klementieft shared how the whole fiasco “didn’t make sense at all:"

"We couldn't imagine a third 'Guardians' directed by anyone else… It didn't make sense at all. I mean, James changed my life. I'll be grateful for him forever."

Karen Gillan pointed out that the whole Guardians cast talked “and formed a plan:”

"We talked to each other as a cast… and formed a plan. All of us were on the same page: we didn't really want to do it without him."

This led to a statement from the whole group supporting Gunn and his future endeavors despite the choice made by Disney.

So what happened for the big decision to be reversed? As Gunn puts it, “it didn’t just go away:”

"What happened was I got fired and it didn't just go away… Maybe if it just went away, it wouldn't have been on people's minds. But the fans didn't let it go. The press didn't let it go. The cast didn't let it go. It made it hard to ignore."

Gunn went on to say that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was "on [his] side the whole time" and how he’d heard from others that Disney executive Alan Horn “was struggling with it, ethically."

The filmmaker noted that Horn “is a good man” and that he'd heard the executive “couldn’t sleep at night” after it happened. 

After months of being outside, on March 15 2019, Gunn was reinstated on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Not only that, but he was given the opportunity to tell stories over with rival DC Studios.

Chris Pratt admitted that “it’s wild the way things work out:”

"Honestly, it's wild the way things work out… It was painful. But it takes serious wisdom to understand in that painful moment what a blessing something can be."

James Gunn is Living His Best Timeline

While noting how Alan Horn couldn't sleep might have been hyperbole, the sentiment remains just as strong: firing James Gunn was simply the wrong decision to make. Thankfully, even a massive corporation like Disney was eventually able to see that.

The horrific chain of events really turned out well for Gunn.

Not only did it give him the opportunity to make The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, but his time with Warner Bros. also opened the door to becoming the co-lead of DC Studios itself. Getting to return to the MCU to finish out his Guardians trilogy was the cherry on top.

In a way, things might not have worked out as well for the filmmaker if he hadn't been briefly fired for eight months by Disney.

While Gunn is hardly the first to be let go due to something like a string of questionable tweets, he is one of only a handful of examples who many felt deserved the redemptive arc he was given.

Because of it, fans can watch his swan song for the Guardians of the Galaxy in just under a month when Vol. 3 releases on May 5.

- In This Article: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release Date
May 05, 2023
- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.