It seems the bottom line may yet see James Gunn reinstated as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Deadline reports back-channel discussions between Marvel Studios and the management at Walt Disney Studios are underway. It is said the cast’s message of solidarity and the suddenly rocky outlook of Guardians‘s future as its own franchise has led to the discussions. No doubt recent reports about Disney rival Warner Bros. looking to hire Gunn away led to second thoughts as well.
As we reported yesterday, Gunn’s offensive comments were posted to his Twitter account almost a decade prior to becoming a Disney contractor; which means he was not in breach of his contract despite Walt Disney Studio chairman Alan Horn’s swift dismissal of the director following an extremist right-wing website’s exploitation of Gunn’s edgelord past in July. According to Variety, this means Disney faces a more complicated exit negotiation as Gunn must still be paid part of his fee. Additionally, Marvel Studios wants to use his script, which may require additional negotiations.
And, it seems, there is a ticking clock. With Chris Pratt’s Cowboy Ninja Viking stalled out at Universal, Marvel Studios is keen to begin shooting Vol. 3 as quickly as possible. While it always seemed as though the film would be the follow-up after Spider-Man: Far From Home, the sudden opening in Pratt’s schedule makes the situation more urgent. But as Pratt and the rest of the cast stand behind Gunn — Dave Bautista even threatened to walk if Marvel abandoned Gunn’s script — it may all be enough leverage for Horn and Disney Studios to reverse their decision and restore Gunn to the director’s chair.
Of course, this may be only a glimmer of hope. But it is definitely a sharp contrast to the certainty Gunn’s firing contained as recently as Monday.