In his first major interview since he was fired (and later rehired) by Disney, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has said he felt as if his career “was over” after the company removed him from the third film in the Marvel franchise last summer.
“That first day… I’m going to say it was the most intense of my entire life,” Gunn told Deadline. “There have been other difficult days in my life, from the time I got sober when I was younger, to the death of friends who committed suicide. But this was incredibly intense. It happened, and suddenly it seemed like everything was gone. I just knew, in a moment that happened incredibly quickly, I had been fired. It felt as if my career was over.”
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.
Gunn told Deadline that it was this support which put him back on his feet.
“And then came this outpouring of real love,” said the director. “From my girlfriend Jen; my producer and my agents; Chris Pratt calling me and freaking out; Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan, all calling and crying. Sylvester Stallone FaceTime-ing me. And, of course, Dave Bautista, who came out so strong. That amount of love that I felt from my friends, my family, and the people in the community was absolutely overwhelming.”
After his firing, Gunn was hired to write and direct The Suicide Squad and in March of this year was reinstated by Disney as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. In the interview, the filmmaker said that the script for The Suicide Squad “just instantly started flowing.” He also recalled his sadness at the thought that he wouldn’t be able to complete the Guardians trilogy and the story of the raccoon-like Rocket.
“I relate to Rocket and I feel compassion for Rocket, but I also feel like his story has not been completed,” said Gunn. “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.”
Gunn’s next project is the superhero-horror film Brightburn, which he produced, and is released May 24.