At this point, we all have to accept that James Gunn is not going to return to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Less than a year after his controversial firing, Warner Bros. and DC have already snatched up Gunn's talents to write and direct The Suicide Squad, which is said to be less a sequel to David Ayer's film and more a reboot. Considering The Suicide Squad's August 2021 release date is six months after Guardians 3's intended production start date, the schedules wouldn't line up, even if Disney management had a change of heart. Maybe Gunn is able to return to Marvel for another movie (Adam Warlock, perhaps?), but someone else is going to have to direct the final Guardians movie. But how do you make a movie that seemingly no one wants to direct?
Furthermore, why would you want to direct it? James Gunn is respected by his fellow filmmakers, and his firing was at best hypocritical. This is not a defense of his old, offensive tweets, which are bad enough you could reasonably argue Disney shouldn't have hired him in 2012 in the first place, but the fact that Disney management only took issue eight years later, after Gunn had stopped making such jokes and apologized for them, because certain conservative Twitter personalities feigned disingenuous outrage is certainly a chilling proposition. While Gunn has accepted the consequences of handing his script off to another director, it's understandable that most directors would feel weird about filling in for him.
The number of directors who've said no to the job just keeps growing. Paul Feig felt he'd be taking something away by directing, calling Guardians of the Galaxy "James' franchise." Rocket Raccoon actor and A Star is Born director Bradley Cooper has said doesn't want to direct anything he doesn't write himself. Travis Knight was at one time the studio's top pick, but he's disinterested in doing more sequels, his brief sojourn into franchise filmmaking with Bumblebee being a one-off to raise money for his stop-motion studio, Laika.
This past week, Edgar Wright, Chris Miller and Taika Waititi rejected Twitter suggestions to direct the film, all suggesting James Gunn make it instead. You could predict such a response from Wright and Miller, both members of the "fired by Disney" club from their time on Ant-Man and Solo, respectively. Waititi's response is a bigger surprise, since, after Thor: Ragnarok, many felt he was the best possible replacement for James Gunn. He was actually going to be one of the directors suggested in this article before he chimed in on Twitter! So, with all these resolute no's, who could possibly say yes to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and not completely mess it up? We have thoughts on five directors and directing teams who, in lieu of a James Gunn-directed sequel, could provide the next best thing.
First, we have to talk about the most obvious (some would say "most boring") choice. Anthony and Joe Russo are the only directors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to handle the Guardians characters aside from Gunn thus far (though Gunn was heavily present in developing the Guardians scenes). They did a pretty great job with them, too. The Guardians-focused segments of Avengers: Infinity War are easily some of the film's liveliest and most entertaining. The Russo brothers clearly get these characters, and, working off Gunn's script, they could easily turn around a strong closing chapter to the trilogy.
What the Russos' plans with Marvel are after Endgame remain a mystery. After finishing Phase Three with a bang, they could feel like they'd accomplished everything they wanted to in that universe and might want to do something different. We know their next directing gig is going to be the PTSD drama Cherry, based off the bestseller by Nico Walker. Will they want to return to the MCU on Guardians 3, or have they already passed?