James Gunn has been reinstated by Walt Disney Studios as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, EW has confirmed. The filmmaker will go into production on the movie after completing work on Suicide Squad 2.
Gunn directed the first two Guardians films as well as co-writing 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and writing 2017’s Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He also wrote the script for the third installment of the superhero saga. Disney dropped him as the director of Guardians 3 last July after old, offensive tweets by the filmmaker were unearthed and publicized by conservative pundits. Gunn apologized for the tweets and later the same month the Guardians of the Galaxy cast issued a statement expressing their shock at Disney’s severing of ties with the filmmaker. In August, however, Variety reported that Disney was upholding its decision to fire the filmmaker, even after an alleged meeting between Gunn and Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.
Friday on Twitter, Gunn expressed his gratitude to fans. “I am tremendously grateful to every person out there who has supported me over the past few months,” he wrote. “I am always learning and will continue to work at being the best human being I can be. I deeply appreciate Disney’s decision and I am excited to continue making films that investigate the ties of love that bind us all. I have been, and continue to be incredibly humbled by your love and support. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Love to you all.”
In an interview with EW last week, Guardians cast member Dave Bautista hinted that Gunn would return to Guardians 3. “I think a lot of people who even made the decisions, they realized they made a harsh, rash decision that was probably not the best decision,” he said.
“Also, his phone was ringing the day after with Marvel. So, he’s bouncing back big time. I think in the next six, eight months, next year, you’re gonna see James Gunn bounce back in a huge way, which is gonna be a huge statement and real vindication,” Bautista added. It turned out to be literally one week.
The wrestler-turned-actor said he was not going to let go of his grudge against the alt-right pundits who got Gunn fired. “For myself as well, I will ride off his coattails of vindication,” Bautista said. “And don’t believe I won’t rub it into a few people’s faces, because he deserves it. He was wronged.”
Bautista acknowledged the jokes were bad taste, but insisted the filmmaker should not be forever defined by shock-wisecracks made many years ago. “Things that were acceptable 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, are not acceptable now,” he said. “At the end of the day, he was making jokes and he was being provocative and he was looking for that shock value, but they were just jokes. And he’s a good, decent person.”
Additional reporting by Anthony Breznican.