Disney is giving James Gunn another chance. After firing the director from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 over controversial tweets last summer, the company has put him back in charge of the upcoming Marvel film.
The 52-year-old behind the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films will now write and direct the third installment, as well. Deadline reported Disney’s reversal on Thursday, March 15, after confirming the news with both Marvel and Gunn’s representatives.
Gunn originally lost the job in July 2018 after old tweets of his, which referenced pedophilia and rape, resurfaced in the media. “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” Disney chairman Alan Horn said in a statement to Us Weekly at the time.
For his part, the filmmaker owned up to his controversial social media history in a tweet one day prior. “Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo,” he wrote at the time. “As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.”
He added: “It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over. In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies. … I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today.”
Guardians of the Galaxy stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff and Michael Rooker wrote an open letter later that month asking Disney to rehire Gunn. Fans also voiced their support for the director through an online petition and a crowdfunded billboard in Anaheim, California.
Disney actually made the decision to reinstate Gunn months ago, after Horn met with him to discuss the situation on multiple occasions, according to Deadline.
2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 grossed more than $1.6 billion worldwide. In addition to his duties on the GOTG franchise, Gunn is also a producer of this year’s upcoming films Avengers: Endgame and Brightburn, and he’s attached to a new Suicide Squad film scheduled for 2021.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is slated for release on February 2021.