James Gunn unpacks Guardians of the Galaxy Disney firing for the first time

The director goes into detail about losing and then reacquiring the Guardians 3 job.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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Jennifer Bisset
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James Gunn speaks out about his firing from Disney.

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It's been a big year for James Gunn.

The writer and director of the hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy films saw his employers at Disney fire him mid-last year for offensive joke tweets that resurfaced from a decade ago.

While actors threatened not to return if his completed script for the third film in the series wasn't used, Gunn moved on to other projects, namely The Suicide Squad. But amid the shock and the potential upending of his career, the only feeling Gunn hooked onto was blame of himself.

Then, less than a year after his firing, he was reinstated. Speaking to Deadline, Gunn detailed what he'd learned from the experience and why it was so important to him to return to the Guardians of the Galaxy world.

"I don't blame anyone," Gunn said of the controversial tweets. "I feel and have felt bad for a while about some of the ways I spoke publicly; some of the jokes I made, some of the targets of my humor, just the unintentional consequences of not being more compassionate in what I'm putting out there.

"Disney totally had the right to fire me."

Of the moment he'd found out he'd been fired, Gunn said, "It felt as if my career was over."

Gunn describes the love he felt from the cast in the fallout. "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.

"That amount of love that I felt from my friends, my family, and the people in the community was absolutely overwhelming."

In particular Gunn attributed the importance of him returning to Guardians 3 to finishing the character arc for Rocket the racoon. "Rocket is me, he really is, even if that sounds narcissistic. 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. 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."

To read the entire interview, head to Deadline.

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