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James Gunn is returning to Marvel Studios. Deadline reports that, less than a year after he was fired from the company following the resurfacing of offensive tweets from years prior, Gunn has been rehired as the writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the franchise he launched back in 2014.
Gunn's rehiring is a decision that was reportedly made some time ago after meetings with Walt Disney Studios presidents Alan Horn, who was convinced by Gunn's public apology and refusal to attack Disney over its decision to fire him.
Gunn was let go from Marvel in the midst of San Diego Comic Con last July after alt-right websites resurfaced years-old tweets from his account that featured posts making light of pedophilia and rape. In a public apology regarding the tweets, Gunn made it clear that the statements were meant as provocative jokes in keeping with his image as a shock filmmaker at the time, and did not reflect his values or lifestyle.
Though a number of conservatives called for the firing and praised Disney's decision, the resulting support for Gunn was also swift and massive. A fan petition to rehire him garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures, various filmmakers came to his defense, and even the Guardians cast got in on it. Dave Bautista, who plays Drax in the films, was a particularly outspoken defender of Gunn, and made it clear that he would not stay silent about Gunn's firing. Eventually, the entire main Guardians cast — including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Michael Rooker, and Bautista — released a statement of support for their director.
Gunn's return to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will not conflict with his work at Warner Bros. on The Suicide Squad. The new arrangement with Marvel will allow Gunn to complete that film — which will feature a new direction and new characters for the DC Comics antihero team — before moving back over to Guardians. His script for Vol. 3 was reportedly always going to be used for the film even before his rehiring, and despite reports that Adam McKay (Vice) and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) were considered, Disney never came close to hiring another filmmaker for the project, which was instead pushed indefinitely.
So, thanks to a rather surprising reversal from Disney, Gunn is coming back home to the Marvel cosmic franchise he helped build, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe's future post-Endgame looks just a little bit brighter.
UPDATE: Gunn posted to Twitter for the first time since July after this news broke, expressing thanks for all the support that led to the decision, and to Disney for their reconsideration.