Before the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was released, it was seen as a critical gamble for Marvel, but it was one that paid off in spades.
With both movies delivering critical acclaim and huge box office numbers, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 seemed like such a sure thing that it was one of few movies that we knew was a part of Phase Four – even if most of the Guardians were unfortunate victims of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.
But everything has been thrown into doubt by Disney’s decision to fire James Gunn for old tweets making jokes in very poor taste (albeit ones that Gunn had already apologised for in the past), leaving the movie without a director.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
A lot has happened since that decision on July 20, 2018, so here’s a timeline of how everything went wrong for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.
James Gunn fired
After Gunn was fired, cast members Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Pom Klementieff and Karen Gillan posted messages – some of support, others expressing anger at their director’s treatment.
Michael Rooker quit Twitter, while Gunn’s actor brother Sean Gunn (who plays Kraglin) gave his heartfelt reaction to the events, but it’s fair to say that Bautista has been the most vocal in his support of Gunn. More on him in a bit.
Gunn’s firing also sparked a Change.org petition that gained hundreds of thousands of signatures, although was arguably never really going to do much.
Guardians of the Galaxy cast release joint statement
On July 30, the entire cast of Guardians of the Galaxy released a joint statement in support of Gunn, adding that his story is “not over”.
“Being in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies has been a great honour in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support, and gratitude for James. We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2,” it read.
“The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we all know, trust, and love.”
Alongside the joint statement, Chris Pratt wrote that in spite of Gunn’s “inappropriate jokes”, he would “love to see him reinstated as director of Volume 3“.
Reactions from more cast members – including Glenn Close and Kurt Russell – followed and Gunn’s brother later claimed that there was a “lot of lies spread” about the director, before the latest development behind-the-scenes.
Disney WON’T rehire James Gunn
Despite the joint statement from the cast, it was reported that Disney was unlikely to reverse its decision to fire Gunn – something that was confirmed on August 15.
Before the news was confirmed, Bautista continued to speak out against Disney’s decision. “I will do what I’m legally obligated to do but @Guardians without @JamesGunn is not what I signed up for. GOTG w/o @JamesGunn just isn’t GOTG,” he posted.
“It’s also pretty nauseating to work for someone who’d empower a smear campaign by fascists #cybernazis . That’s just how I feel.”
© Getty Images Frazer Harrison
And he wasn’t finished there.
Dave Bautista threatens to quit
The Drax actor followed up his “nauseating” quotes by threatening to quit Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 if Marvel doesn’t use Gunn’s finished script.
“Where I’m at right now is that if [Marvel] don’t use that script, then I’m going to ask them to release me from my contract, cut me out or recast me,” Bautista explained. “I’d be doing James a disservice if I didn’t.”
Fortunately, it was reported that Marvel does plan to use the same screenplay from Gunn for the third movie, although we’ve outlined how that could make finding a new director tricky, especially one that could satisfy fans like Taika Waititi.
Bautista still took the time to criticise Disney (again) for refusing to rehire Gunn as director, while Pratt was a bit more measured in his response by saying it was “a complicated situation for everybody”.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 postponed indefinitely
On August 24, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that production on the third movie had been put on hold. Reportedly, a small group of crew members prepping for pre-production had been dismissed and were told they were free to look for new work.
The report added that the production hold is temporary and will give Marvel and Disney time to ‘regroup’ as they look for a new director.
As for how the potential delay will affect the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bautista believes it could initially impact Avengers 4.
“Guardians 3 is really up in the air and I don’t know what they’re going to do with it. It’s on permanent hold for now, and that may make a difference in what they do with our characters in Avengers 4. To be honest with you, right now I really don’t know,” he told Digital Spy.
“But I know I’m in Avengers 4. I’ve shot most of it already. I do have two days of reshoots. But other than that, I have some really great scenes that I hope they use. But I guess that it remains to be seen what they’ll do with the characters.”
Where are we at now?
In case you weren’t aware that Bautista wasn’t happy with the situation, he revealed earlier this month that he’s not sure that he will return as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.
“It’s a bitter-sweet conversation – um, no it’s a bitter-bitter conversation because I’m not really happy with what they’ve done with James Gunn,” he noted. “They’re putting the movie off. It’s on hold indefinitely. To be honest with you, I don’t know if I want to work for Disney.”
However, Bautista has also said that he’s still up for a Drax spin-off movie as he feels that his character’s backstory has “been lost and overlooked a little bit”.
“I really wish they would because I think there’s a story to be told there and I think the fans would really love to see that story, even if it’s not me portraying Drax, I still think it is an interesting story to tell,” he added.
Elsewhere, Glenn Close followed up her earlier comments about Gunn’s firing by saying it’s “hard to think” of the Guardians franchise without Gunn, while Michelle Yeoh – who starred in the second movie as Aleta Ogord – said she was “horrified” by the whole situation.
© Marvel Studios
“You’re talking about things that he said in the archives. If he had said it yesterday, or today, or something like this then you can make a big fuss but why dig up something now? I don’t understand at all. It’s so unnecessary, what good does it do?”
So, basically, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 doesn’t have a director, has a cast that aren’t too happy about the whole situation and might not even be coming out anytime soon.
And there was one final twist in the offing.
James Gunn moves to DC
In an unexpected move, Gunn was confirmed as the new writer of Suicide Squad 2 on October 11 and he’ll potentially direct the Worlds of DC offering as well.
We’ve outlined why it will prove to be a great decision from Warner Bros and with it billed as a “completely fresh take”, there’s a chance that there could be a cast overhaul as well so could Gunn go back to his Guardians? Bautista already seems up for it.
Over to you Marvel and Disney.
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