Last July, a series of unnerving tweets made by Guardians of the Galaxy writer and director James Gunn from nearly a decade earlier resulted in Disney's controversial decision to cut ties with him. The tweets, which touched on pedophilia and rape, were cited by Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn as "indefensible and inconsistent" with Disney's values, and ultimately led to his decision to fire Gunn from the franchise. In the almost year since then, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been put on the back-burner, with Gunn's next move to sign on to helm The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros. and DC.
Following his firing, Warner Bros. made it very clear that the studio did not have a problem with bringing Gunn on board for a potential project despite his resurfaced tweets. It wasn't entirely surprising, then, when Gunn was hired to pen a sequel to Suicide Squad, an announcement made with the caveat of there being potential for him to direct the film as well, a development that followed shortly thereafter.
Obviously, Disney's decision to bring Gunn back into the Marvel Studios fold is good for the director on a personal level, and for the studio considering fan reaction to his firing in the first place. But how does Gunn's return to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 affect The Suicide Squad in a positive way?
It's pretty simple; Disney's decision to rehire Gunn for Vol. 3 helps to remove any gray cloud that might have hung over his work on The Suicide Squad.
When Disney initially fired Gunn, the studio's decision was met with plenty of backlash, despite Gunn's acceptance of it all. Fans -- and fellow creatives -- were outraged that a studio would fire someone that had worked for them on multiple films, simply because an alt-right journalist had unearthed decade old tweets and reframed them out of context. To complicate matters further, in trying to figure out who could possibly replace Gunn it became clear that the only option -- at least, for fans -- was Gunn, as unlikely as it might have seemed. In fact, as time went on, and it became clear the studio had yet to secure a new director, Gunn's fellow Marvel creatives -- including Thor: Ragnarok director, Taika Waititi -- threw their support behind Gunn.
Still, in recent months, it seemed as though Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 had become a low priority for the studio, with the film still unscheduled and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige continuing to stress it'll happen despite being unable to promise when it would actually come to be. Unlike Ant-Man and Thor: The Dark World, which had their own director issues after Edgar Wright and Patty Jenkins left those films, Guardians pre-production came to a halt almost immediately after Gunn was fired, and no replacements were ever officially in contention. It ended up casting a pall over the project, suggesting it may actually not happen at all -- especially as Gunn seemingly moved on with Marvel's biggest competitor -- Warner Bros. and DC.
Ironically, though, Gunn's return to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a blessing for both Marvel Studios and DC Films. Not only does Marvel get to bring Gunn back into the fold and allow him to complete his trilogy, the studio gets to right a major wrong it made nearly a year ago. But perhaps, more importantly, Gunn's reinstatement as director on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has the biggest positive effect on The Suicide Squad. While many have been excited to see what Gunn will do with that property, especially as its being hailed a soft reboot following the poorly received first film, there was still something of a dark cloud hanging over Gunn's hiring on that project, despite the studio fully throwing its support behind the director.
Despite Gunn having moved on, the focus was still on Guardians and Disney. While many were eager to see Gunn back on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, feeling as though Disney's initial reaction was rash and not thought out, there was still a vocal group that was in support of Horn's decision to cut ties with the director. Even as time went on, the controversy never fully died down, especially as other directors continued to openly talk about Gunn's firing online. On one hand, keeping the conversation going probably helped to led to Gunn's reinstatement. But on the other hand, had he not been re-hired, keeping the conversation going would have resulted in it being a continued topic even as Gunn moved on to direct The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros. and DC, and that wouldn't have been fair for that project.
But now that he's confirmed to direct both -- with The Suicide Squad set to come first -- it's safe to say Warner Bros. is the bigger winner of the two. Sure, Marvel gets Gunn back to complete the trilogy he envisioned, but Warner Bros. gets to see Gunn make his true comeback with The Suicide Squad, which he'll begin production on later this year, before moving on to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 sometime next year, and he'll make that comeback after having been vindicated by his original employer, not while he's still fighting for it.
Gunn is confirmed to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Suicide Squad, with the latter expected to go into production first for a potential 2021 release.