Soon after his hiring to helm the first Guardians of the Galaxy film in 2012, a blog post from 2011 by Gunn resurfaced. Criticized by many for being homophobic and misogynistic, an online petition was launched to fire the director before principal photography on the first film even began. While Disney and Marvel Studios were certainly aware of the blog post and resulting petition, Gunn was retained and signed to direct Vol. 2 and, later, Vol. 3 after the filmmaker delivered an apology reaching out to organizations such as GLAAD. This suggests Gunn's firing this past year is more a product of politically volatile times and less about the content of the filmmaker's offensive jokes.
The other strong argument for Gunn's reinstatement is the existence of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's screenplay. Gunn had reportedly delivered a script to Marvel Studios weeks before his sudden firing, intending to begin filming January 2019. While Gunn was let go from the project, Marvel Studios retained the script, with Sean Gunn indicating that the studio intends to use elements of James Gunn's screenplay when production on the sequel eventually moves forward.
With a new director signing on to the production, the incoming filmmaker will likely want to avoid the shadow of Gunn's departure while maintaining the vision and style of the first two films. That is an incredibly daunting tonal balance. As the original writer and director of the previous two films, Gunn is still the best filmmaker suited for the job.
The possibility of Marvel Studios rehiring James Gunn is a highly unlikely one. The director's firing was seen by many as a political, face-saving move by Disney after it fired Roseanne Barr from her ABC sitcom following the offensive comments she made online earlier in the year. And, by all accounts, Gunn appears to have moved on, entering final negotiations with Warner Bros. to write and direct a Suicide Squad relaunch, tentatively titled The Suicide Squad, for the DC Extended Universe after first being approached by the studio for the project this past October. Gunn certainly has a longstanding connection with the MCU's Guardians of the Galaxy, but the studio would have to make the unlikely decision to bring him back, even more improbable given Gunn's new commitment with a rival studio.
As the MCU prepares for its future beyond Avengers: Endgame, one of the few properties confirmed to continue in some capacity following the eagerly anticipated blockbuster is Guardians of the Galaxy. With its quirky tone, punk rock visual energy and irreverent sense of humor, it re-emphasized the importance of comedy in the MCU without compromising its own emotional stakes. Narratively, it opened the entire cosmic side of the MCU to audiences, which has become increasingly more vital with Avengers: Infinity War, Endgame and the forthcoming Eternals. What James Gunn said in the past is, without a doubt, offensive, but if Marvel Studios is looking for a director to best replicate the success of the first two films, he remains the most viable option.