When James Gunn took charge of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise in 2014, many were skeptical. While Marvel Studios wasn't known for hiring big-name directors at the time, the announcement of Gunn's hiring still felt like an odd choice to helm the movie which would go on to define the cosmic realm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially after 2012's The Avengers got the ball rolling towards Thanos.
Gunn, then a writer on the Scooby-Doo live-action franchise and as director of dark movies like Slither and Super, would eventually wow fans with his unique blend of comedy and action, truly painting a modern space saga along the lines of Star Wars. However, with crude jokes from years ago resurfacing online, the director was fired by Marvel, leaving fans wondering what would happen to Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
The franchise is viewed as his baby, and he'd already turned in a draft of the script (which, let's face it - Marvel is unlikely to use), so let's look at who can possibly fill Gunn's shoes.
Gunn was given a lot of creative freedom in his franchise, shaping everything from script to music as he made the MCU's galactic scene a place where there was at least as much comedy as action, a mix that worked surprisingly well. Taika Waititi followed a somewhat similar formula for Thor: Ragnarok, shifting the franchise from a full-blown cosmic-medieval narrative to a rollicking, laugh-out-loud galactic adventure.
Waititi showed he can brilliantly merge over-the-top space action and humor, exemplified from how he destroyed Asgard on screen, while building a brilliant buddy-cop relationship between Thor and Hulk, truly changing the dynamic of both characters. From his indie films like the Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do In The Shadows, Waititi is clearly just as fearless and thought-provoking a filmmaker, ergo why he would be well suited to take up the baton.
Peyton Reed can also blend comedy and action to great effect, as seen in his two Ant-Man films. When Gunn started this train in 2014, just a year later Reed was doing the same (although not as grand in scope) through the adventures of Scott Lang, doing so by also relying on a theme Gunn's narrative is steeped in: family.
He's loves bringing emotional superhero stories to life and can handle an ensemble cast, as seen from the expanded roster in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Reed loves the cosmic realm too and he has indicated he'd love to helm a Fantastic Four reboot someday, so while we wait on Disney and Fox to settle their buyout, the Guardians franchise could be a perfect substitute. Reed knows the MCU way as well, making this transition even easier.