James Gunn helped make some of the MCU’s strangest oddballs into a multi-film hit as the director and writer of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, but after an online controversy led to his firing, hiring by comic rival DC, and eventual reinstatement by Disney, he’s almost more familiar for the drama around him than for the drama he creates on screen.
Now that the director’s work on The Suicide Squad is starting to find its way into the news, Gunn has decided that now’s the time to clear the air about everything that went down with Marvel, Disney, and his own behavior.
Speaking with Deadline in his first interview since his rehiring, Gunn initially compared the crumbling relationship with Disney to a failed marriage — something to learn and grow from. Gunn explained that “the initial conversations with [Disney head Alan Horn] weren’t, ‘Let’s figure out if I should come back.’ It was, ‘Let’s talk about this.’” And though it “felt as if my career was over,” there were still those willing to work with him. “Technically my fears were allayed immediately,” Gunn remembered, “Jason Blum was doing a [San Diego Comic-Con] panel when the announcement happened and he said, ‘I’d hire James Gunn right now.’”
And that’s just where the support began — from both inside and outside the industry. Some were Guardians alumni while others were simply fans. “[Support] from my girlfriend Jen; my producer and my agents; Chris Pratt calling me and freaking out; Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan, all calling and crying. Sylvester Stallone FaceTime-ing me. And, of course, Dave Bautista, who came out so strong,” Gunn remembered.
Now, Gunn will have the chance to work with them all again — so what’s the best part of his return? “Rocket is me, he really is, even if that sounds narcissistic,” Gunn explained of his “very strange and attached relationship to Rocket.” As he plans to come back to the MCU, the fan-favorite, non-humanoid duo is going to get some closure.
“Groot is like my dog. I love Groot in a completely different way. I relate to Rocket and I feel compassion for Rocket, but I also feel like his story has not been completed,” Gunn said. “He has an arc that started in the first movie, continued into the second and goes through Infinity War and Endgame, and then I was set to really finish that arc in Guardians 3.” Rocket’s gone through plenty of growth over the last few movies, but with Groot’s dusting in Infinity War, fans haven’t gotten to see the buddies they know and love.
Now Gunn is ready to finish what he started - and answer some questions remaining from Endgame. Questions like those raised by the Russo brothers in their response to questions about Gamora's fate. "We don’t know whether she was dusted or whether she survived," Joe Russo said. "That’s probably a question that Guardians will answer." In fact, Anthony chimed in, "Quill doesn’t know either." But James Gunn? Oh, he definitely knows.
The Suicide Squad — which Gunn refers to simply as a “sequel” — is planned to come out on Aug. 6, 2021 while Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 won’t even start production until 2020.