James Gunn has opened up about being re-hired by Marvel following his sacking from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise in 2018, with Marvel boss Kevin Feige also weighing in on the saga.
In July 2018, Gunn, who had directed the first two Guardians films for Marvel, was removed from the franchise amid backlash over historical bad-taste tweets.
Gunn had previously apologised for the tweets, which contained jokes about rape and paedophilia. However, they then resurfaced in what was widely reported to be an attempt to get him fired by right-wing social media users, who were unhappy with his negative comments about then US president Donald Trump.
The following year, Gunn was rehired by Disney to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, as well as a Christmas special for Disney+.
Gunn, and members of the Guardians cast, recently spoke about the whole experience in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
According to Gunn, the decision to re-hire him came at the behest of then Disney film chairman Alan Horn.
Horn was central to the intial decision to fire Gunn, and had issued a statement at the time claiming that Gunn’s tweets were “indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values”.
However, the cast of Guardians, including Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldaña, immediately rallied behind Gunn and lobied for his return.
In the interview, Feige stated that they never interviewed anyone to replace Gunn during his absence. “We didn’t even put a preliminary list together just because we couldn’t do it,” he said. “We couldn’t stomach it.”
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According to Gunn, he heard that Horn was regretting the decision, and having trouble sleeping over it.
“It’s a 100 percent because Alan Horn felt sick. He did it because he thought it was the right thing to do,” said Gunn.
Horn, meanwhile, refused to comment on Gunn’s tweets on the rehiring decision, but praised the director’s conduct around the time of the firing.
“Everything he did subsequently was first class,” Horn said. “He was such a gentleman about it in the ensuing months that we just brought him back. It felt like the right thing to do. I hold him in absolute high regard.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is out in cinemas on 3 May. The film has been receiving strong reviews from critics, with The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey dubbing it the “best Marvel movie in years”.