James Gunn Opens Up On His Removal From Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: It Was Incredibly Intense

Even as Avengers: Endgame continues to pile up box-office dollars, nearing $2.5 billion worldwide, not all has been smooth sailing for Marvel Studios. Last year, they were hit by an unexpected turbulence when Disney fired James Gunn, removing him from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Disney made the call by acting promptly and quickly on decade old tweets by Gunn making light of sensitive topics when the said tweets were pointed out by an alt-right figure on social media. Earlier this March, Disney finally relented and reinstated Gunn as the director of the upcoming Vol. 3.

Gunn has been largely silent about the matter, taking things in his stride. He minimized his social media activity, lay low and accepted an offer from “rival” studio Warner Bros. to direct the DC Comics-based The Suicide Squad. Now, for the first time since his dismissal, the directer opened up about the situation, how he felt after the removal and how he coped with the unfortunate scenario of being separated from the film-franchise he helped nurture.

That first day… I’m going to say it was the most intense of my entire life. 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.

To the director’s pleasant surprise, he received a lot of love and support from his close allies, including the entire cast of Guardians of the Galaxy. This helped him cope with the situation and realize to a certain extent, what happened needed to happen for him to completely feel the love and support that he felt and received.

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.

He was also appreciative of Disney Chairman Alan Horn and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige who never considered another director to take over the franchise, fully believing that Guardians of the Galaxy should begin and end with Gunn, and not someone like say, Adam McKay or Taika Waititi.

I was about to sit down and talk about The Suicide Squad with DC and I was excited about that. Alan asked me to come talk to him. I really believe he is a good man and I think he hired me back because he thought that was the right thing to do. I’ve known him a little, going back to the Scooby-Doo movies. I’ve always liked and admired him. I was touched by his compassion.

You hear in Hollywood that everybody’s cutthroat. That’s true of a section of this industry, but there’s also a lot of really good people. I’m always attracted to finding that goodness in places we don’t expect, often in the characters in my movies. I got a little bit teary-eyed in his office. And then I had to go tell Kevin Feige I had just decided to do The Suicide Squad, so that made me very nervous.

The entire interview is a great read in which Gunn reflects on his mistakes and his learnings and how he emerged from the incident stronger. His demeanor and mature handling of the situation both publicly, and in private meetings that happened as early as a week or two after the incident among other things is probably what led Disney and Marvel to reconsider their decision. The complete interview reflects Gunn’s humility and groundedness and really convinces you that this is no longer the man that once wrote jovially and provocatively about highly serious and sensitive issues.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is currently without a release date but is expected to begin production once James Gunn is done with The Suicide Squad. For now, click on the movie title to read all news about the series, right here on Appocalypse.