It’s certainly been quite an interesting couple of years for director James Gunn. He was initially welcomed with open arms at Disney but he was eventually fired from being the new “brain” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe due to some controversial tweets. But things have turned for him as Disney announced that they were rehiring Gunn once again.
So.,. what happened? Well, it’s impossible to know the full story because neither James Gunn nor Disney/Marvel are giving any details. But that hasn’t stopped the Internet from speculating what happened behind the scenes. Some believe that the public outcry against his firing was just too loud. Some even have outlandish theories that Disney never really fired James Gunn in the first place and just issued a fake press release and wait until the entire thing blew over.
Me? I’m somewhat in the middle of all of that. I generally believe he was fired but there were some new factors that did lead to his rehiring. But before I do go talk about what I think happened, it’s best to give a recap of the entire situation first.
James Gunn gained some notoriety, or at least some limited geek cred, when he wrote and directed Slither, a low budget horror/campy film that has since gained a cult following. This did catch the eye of Disney and Gunn was hired to direct and write Guardians of the Galaxy. It may have just been another big hit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe but there was just something special about Guardians of the Galaxy as it managed to get fans to be enamored by a walking tree and a talking raccoon with guns.
His rather huge prominence with Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to do big things for him as he was going to be the person-in-charge for Marvel’s “cosmic universe.” Or, at the very least, his work on the Guardians of the Galaxy films were going to be the template for all of that. Whichever way to look at it, this does show that Disney and Marvel had a lot of faith in Gunn’s direction.
Then Disney weren’t so high on Gunn after some old tweets of his from 2008 to 2012 resufaced where he joked about some rather taboo topics, such as rape and child abuse. This raised the ire of some conservatives and Disney was feeling the heat. After all, Disney may be a huge conglomerate that owns pretty much all media nowadays but they still like to keep that family-friendly image. It wouldn’t really serve them if it seemed as if they were supporting a rapist and a child abuser. I mean, that what James Gunn tweeted, right? They felt the need to let him go and they did rather unceremoniously.
This did raise the ire of a lot of fans and it was probably something Disney didn’t foresee. Just hours after his firing, a lot of people voiced their displeasure regarding James Gunn getting canned. Media outlets, such as The Daily Dot, MovieWeb, Vulture and Birth Movies Death, to name a few, derided Disney choice of trying to appease the few people who were “outraged” by Gunn’s old tweets. It definitely came to a head when the entire Guardians of the Galaxy cast wrote an open letter expressing their disappointment.
Even with the controversy surrounding him, James Gunn was never going to be lining outside the unemployment line. In fact, he already was one of the producers of the upcoming film, Brightburn. DC also took this opportunity to snatch him up as they got him to be the writer and director of The Suicide Squad relaunch/reimagining. He was still going to get work but he was definitely going to be missed from the Marvel Cinematic Universe… but not for long! Just a few days ago, Deadline broke the news that Disney has reached an agreement with James Gunn and he was returning to the fold to write and direct the next Guardians of the Galaxy film. That’s the situation as it stands now.
Personally, I’m really glad Disney rehired Gunn as I was one of those people that questioned his firing in the first place. Logically, I understood their position. Disney is still one of those companies that still have this kid-friendly aura around them and they certainly don’t want to alienate anyone. But in my heart, I thought it was an awful decision.
Now, I’m not a huge social media person for various reasons. One of those reasons is I’m lazy. I have enough trouble writing on this blog each and every week! You want me to think of something witty everyday on Facebook, too? But another factor is that I know that anything you put up on the Internet is going to be out there for posterity. You can delete all the tweets in the worlds but there’s going to be someone out there who’ll use their computer wizardry to dig them back up!
Yes, the tweets James Gunn made were rather distasteful but I think the bigger crime is that they weren’t funny. You can say that rape and child abuse is no laughing matter and I’d agree with you… sometimes. There’s such a thing called “dark humor.” Yes, they’re taboo topics but you can still make light of them. If you’ve watched Family Guy, you know what I’m talking about.
Heck, it’s not just Family Guy that pokes fun at these rather dark topics. Comedians have made tons of jokes composing jokes involving sex, rape, racism sexism and prison abuse and they work to varying degrees! James Gunn’s tweets were supposed to be funny but they weren’t. That’s his biggest sin regarding the entire situation! If they were funny, I don’t think he wouldn’t been fired in the first place. But I digress.
To his credit, James Gunn has been rather calm and collected throughout the entire ordeal. He didn’t go on a rant and say that Disney can go suck it, which is what most of the people who sided with him were saying at the time. He was extremely respectful regarding their decision which was very refreshing. I can’t help but think this factored into Disney’s decision to rehire him.
I mentioned that Disney is a company that shirks from controversy and they thought firing James Gunn for those distasteful tweets would get them brownie points from parent groups. This plan certainly backfired as the outcry was much louder than the cheers they got for his firing! I actually admire Disney for sticking to their guns for as long as they did! But when all is said and done, it was only a matter of time before Disney and James Gunn made up because of how it affected how people were starting to look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney was never going to abandon a gold mine like a third Guardians of the Galaxy film and there was very little indication that they were going to try to replace Gunn.
But there is another factor that maybe no one’s talking about. More specifically, that “factor” is Captain Marvel. Yes, I’m going there!
It’s certainly no secret now that Captain Marvel is one of the most divisive films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. No matter how you cut it, Disney has taken a lot of flak for it. There are definitely some people that hate Captain Marvel with a passion and there’s no indication that will let up anytime soon. There’s even that chance that all the bad vibes from Captain Marvel will spill over to the upcoming Avengers: Endgame; that will ultimately all depend on how involved she’ll be in the final product.
Disney definitely needs a win right now because all of this negative attention its getting from that movie. And what better way to get some good press than getting someone back who everyone loves? The timing is rather perfect, don’t you think? Yes, this sounds like a conspiracy theory, I’ll admit that. The timing may all be a coincidence but I honestly wouldn’t put it past Disney. Like I said, they were going to rehire him anyway so why not take this opportunity to distract from the bad buzz surrounding Captain Marvel?
Whatever the reason, I’m truly glad they got James Gunn back into the fold. It was a mistake in the first place so they’re just correcting the errors. Hopefully, Disney learns their lesson and not be too trigger happy with their firings. Oh, and I hope James Gunn does keep his nose clean from now on, though, just to be on the safe side.
What’s your take on the entire James Gunn firing and rehiring situation? Let me know in the comments section below!