Last year, Disney announced the shocking firing of writer-director James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Alt-right trolls had weaponized some old tweets from Gunn that he had already apologized for, and the resulting faux-outrage on their part prompted Disney to fire Gunn. Then, just as surprisingly, this past March, Disney rehired Gunn for Guardians 3. Throughout this entire period, Gunn has remained largely silent, going off social media and not giving interviews.
But now in an interview with Deadline, he talks about his firing and how he was brought back into the fold. For his part, Gunn doesn’t seem to harbor any grudges about the whole thing, and his positivity and maturity on the matter is pretty inspiring. Here he compares the process of being fired as similar to his divorce, and how he didn’t want to be consumed by the negative emotions that would overshadow the good times:
Yes. I was writing Suicide Squad and thought of Guardians 3 as being long gone. I guess it was a possibility for a while, but 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.”
But I would hate to look back on the six years that my wife and I were together and think, Oh, what a waste of time. Instead, I think it was a time when I really grew a lot and we were really good to each other. There were some problems, and we just weren’t supposed to be married, but it was well worth living that six years with my ex.
I wanted to feel that way about Disney. 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.
He also talks about balancing the disappointment over losing Guardians with the outpouring of support he received from people in his life:
So a part of that day was the worst of my life, and a part of it was the greatest day of my life. I certainly haven’t been perfect in my spiritual journeys since that time, but I have been better…
The truth is I had a lot of anger at myself and I really had to try to put that aside. Because in the same way where I know what I’ve done wrong, I know that I’ve done a lot of wrong things in my life, things that led to this moment. I had to realize what I needed to do differently in my life. That was a part of all of this.
But in the same way I needed to not be lashing out at whoever fired me, or whoever spread links online, or cut up pictures to look like this or that, I also had to let go of some of that rage towards myself as well. Otherwise I just wasn’t going to be able to make it through.
But it looks like Gunn’s drive for creating hasn’t slowed at all. After coming on board to write and eventually direct The Suicide Squad, Gunn says it’s one of his most enjoyable experiences working on a screenplay:
The Suicide Squad sequel, it just instantly started flowing. I don’t think I’ve had as much fun writing a script since maybe Dawn of the Dead. That’s what this whole movie has been like.
And as for returning to Guardians 3, while Gunn obviously didn’t share any details on the plot, he did say that it will provide a conclusion to Rocket’s arc, which means a lot to Gunn since Rocket is the character he closely identifies with:
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.
There’s no release date yet on Guardians of the Galaxy 3, but production is expected to begin sometime next year.