It's official: James Gunn will not be returning to helm the final installment of the Guardians trilogy.
According to Variety, following what is described as a "courtesy" meeting between studio chairman Alan Horn and Gunn, Disney has ultimately decided to stand by Horn's initial decision and will not reinstate Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The meeting took place nearly a month after Disney shocked fans by parting ways with the filmmaker following the discovery of some unnerving jokes Gunn made nearly a decade ago on Twitter concerning pedophilia. Despite Gunn's apology, the studio ultimately found his tweets to be both unacceptable and against its family-friendly image.
Also, while reports may have suggested otherwise, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is said to have stood by Horn's decision to fire Gunn. In recent weeks, outlets have reported Feige was one of the few people inside of the studio attempting to get Gunn reinstated.
As to where this leaves production on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it remains unclear. The film was originally set to begin production in January, but with the studio needing to find a new director, it's entirely possible production will be pushed back slightly. Marvel and Feige are expected to begin the search for a new director once Feige returns to town. While the studio is expected to use Gunn's script, it's more than likely whichever director is brought in to direct the feature will opt to tweak things to their liking, which could also halt the production schedule temporarily.
In recent weeks, the Guardians cast has been very vocal regarding their support for Gunn, even releasing an open letter pleading for his reinstatement as director. There is no word on whether the entire cast will return, including Dave Bautista, who has been incredibly outspoken against Disney's decision to part ways with Gunn.
Marvel Studios had yet to officially announce a release date for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, although it was thought to hit theaters in 2020.