And the pendulum has swung again in Disney’s favor.
Variety reports that following a courtesy meeting with Guardians of the Galaxy film series director James Gunn, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn has chosen not to reinstate Gunn as director of the third film in the series. The decision seemingly brings a month of drama, which began when Horn fired Gunn over edgy tweets the director posted ten years ago, to a close.
To review: the tweets, which Gunn admits were in bad taste and reflected poorly when viewed against his personal history and his constantly stated hatred of pedophiles, were used by extreme right-wing groups in bad faith to paint him as a pedophile. Horn, seeing the words “Disney” and “pedophile” in headlines moved quickly to remove Gunn as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Seeing their tactic — first utilized during the GamerGate saga — successful, the right-wing groups moved on to other targets like Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon and The New York Times recent hire Sarah Jeong.
Back at Disney, attempts were made to see Horn reverse his decision, including phone calls with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and an appeal to the bottom line as replacing directors could cause a costly delay. Additionally, the Guardians cast issued a joint statement showing their support of Gunn with Dave Bautista going the extra step to say he will break his contract should Marvel opt not to use Gunn’s script for the sequel. With the cast and schedule situation in mind, it appears Gunn’s script will be used. And according to previous reports, Gunn may return to the Marvel fold someday for another project. As his tweets predate his work as a Disney contractor by as much as ten years, his is not in violation of his contract; which has led to an extended exit negotiation.
If Horn’s word is final, Marvel must begin the search for a replacement director. But considering how much of himself Gunn invested in the Guardians series, finding a suitable replacement will be difficult.