On July 20, 2018, James Gunn got a call from a shocked Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirming that Gunn was fired by "the powers that be" at Disney as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The reason for his firing was the resurfacing of several decade-old crude jokes he had made on Twitter.
Thankfully, Warner Bros. snapped up Gunn three months later to direct The Suicide Squad. Then, five months after that, Marvel Studios hired Gunn back to direct his threequel after a massive campaign from fans and MCU actors.
However, the immediate aftermath of his firing was a painful period mitigated by several Guardians colleagues.
The Guardians Saved James Gunn
In an interview with Empire, James Gunn described Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as "much, much more emotional" due to the personal journeys of everyone involved in making it.
Between Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and its sequel, Gunn was fired from Marvel Studios by Disney before being reinstated eight months later, following an outcry led by fans, but most importantly, the cast.
Gunn mentioned this time as a "journey...into the belly of the beast" and how his friends from the films "saved me [him]:"
“We went through this journey where we went into the belly of the beast, and I was thrown out – and the people that I gave life to by hiring, saved me and brought me back into the fold.”
The director described how they "pulled me [him] onto the life raft" and how their reunion at Comic-Con was a reminder "of this whole emotional journey" they had all been on:
“They pulled me onto the life raft. And now we’re able to finish all of this together. So when they see this footage [at Comic-Con], they’re reminded of this whole emotional journey we’ve all been on.”
Gunn described the aftermath of his firing as "hard," but that "the things I [he] think[s] of from that time are the love that I [he] got from my family and friends."
He recalled how Saldaña and her husband "came over to fix me [him] a meal the night after it happened" and "how Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff came over to just hang out:"
“But the things I think of from that time are the love that I got from my family and friends. I think of how Zoë Saldaña and her husband came over to fix me a meal the night after it happened. How Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff came over to just hang out with me, to be my friend.”
Gunn said in addition to the story in the threequel, it's also a story "of this group of people who made each other's careers" and how "none of [them] were big stars" aside from Zoë Saldaña:
“We have this other story, of this group of people who made each other’s careers at the same time. We grew up together in that respect. None of us were big stars when it started out. Zoë [Saldaña] was the biggest.”
How James Gunn's Firing Is Ironic
It's awful how James Gunn was pushed out of Marvel Studios, along with the turbulent time after his firing. So it's good to learn how much support he had from the friends he made while making the films.
But it's undeniable that Gunn's firing has become the pinnacle of irony since conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich sparked his ouster in the first place using Gunn's old tweets intending to end his career. Despite that, it directly led Gunn to be hired by Warner Bros. to direct The Suicide Squad, leading to him being chosen to co-head DC Studios.
This is not to mention that Gunn was rehired to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 regardless. Although, that hasn't stopped some from trying to get Gunn fired over those same tweets again, which is doubtful to work twice.
Fans can see Gunn's swan song with Marvel Studios when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is released in theaters on Friday, May 5.