Last summer, James Gunn was in the midst of preparing for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the closing installment of the Guardians trilogy. What happened after that can only be described as a whirlwind of crazy. First he was fired by Disney for some old tweets that were dug up. Then he was hired by WB to write The Suicide Squad, which eventually led to him directing as well. Finally, he was rehired by Disney to finish the Guardians trilogy.
The filmmaker, who is usually vocal on social media, has been silent about those recent events. At least up until now. Gunn is now opening up about what has happened to him, how he thought he would never be rehired, and the status of both The Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. See what he had to say below.
Speaking to Deadline, Gunn acknowledges how outspoken he has been online, and had repeatedly apologized for some of his poor tweets. He also accepts full responsibility for his actions and the consequences that came with it.
“I don’t blame anyone. I feel and have felt bad for a while about some of the ways I spoke publicly; some of the jokes I made, some of the targets of my humor, just the unintentional consequences of not being more compassionate in what I’m putting out there. I know that people have been hurt by things that I’ve said, and that’s still my responsibility, that I wasn’t as compassionate as I should be in what I say. I feel bad for that and take full responsibility. Disney totally had the right to fire me. This wasn’t a free speech issue. I said something they didn’t like and they completely had the right to fire me. There was never any argument of that.”
Gunn says the firing was one of the most intense moments of his life. While he says he has had other intense days, it was nothing like the firing. And despite some of those awful tweets that he made in the past, he still experienced an outpouring of love and sympathy from those very close to him, which includes the Guardians of the Galaxy cast.
“And then came this outpouring of real love. 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. In order for me to have fully felt that love for the first time, the thing that needed to happen was the apparatus by which I was feeling falsely loved had to be completely taken away.”
Gunn thought that his firing would stigmatize him and that other studios would not hire him ever again. But that wasn’t the case with Blumhouse and WB, the latter of which brought him in to write The Suicide Squad.
“Technically my fears were allayed immediately; Jason Blum was doing a [San Diego Comic-Con] panel when the announcement happened and he said, ‘I’d hire James Gunn right now.'”
This was followed up by:
“The studios, for the most part, said, ‘We’d love to have you.’ They called within the first two days. But I didn’t believe it. That’s the thing that I have to be honest about. On some theoretical level, I was like, ‘Well, maybe I do have a future.’ I’m a fairly logic-oriented person and that helped, but emotionally, there was not a whole lot there to hold onto. That was good for me, too, because what I needed to do was stop making my career be what makes me worthwhile and start making me just be OK as myself. That is what I concentrated on. I concentrated on the fun.”
The best thing that could have come out of this is what Gunn is now writing in The Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
“The Suicide Squad, 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.”
Gunn came awful close to being unable to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. While many of the cast have already talked about the script, the filmmaker talked about what regrets he would have had if he couldn’t direct it:
“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.”
You can find much more on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 right here, and more on The Suicide Squad right here if interested.