In an absolutely shocking move, Disney yesterday rehired James Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn was fired from his position last year after poor-taste decade-old social media posts resurfaced. Fans, filmmakers, and actors voiced their displeasure over the decision at the time. Now, Gunn is back in the director's chair, but this does raise some questions about when Vol. 3 will hit theaters.
After James Gunn was let go by Disney, it wasn't that long until Warner Bros. scooped him up to write and direct the Suicide Squad reboot. It was a big story at the time that one of Marvel's most prominent directors made the jump to DC. Even though Gunn is back with Marvel, his Suicide Squad movie is reportedly still on, and Marvel is willing to wait for Gunn to wrap that project to finally move forward with Vol. 3.
The Suicide Squad is currently expected to begin filming this fall with a release date set for August 2021. That means Gunn probably won't be able to start production for Vol. 3 until either late 2021 or early 2022. Marvel's normal production schedule usually takes about one year, so that puts Vol. 3 in theaters by 2023 -- six years after the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Thankfully, there may already be some shortcuts Vol. 3 can take. James Gunn had already finished the script before he was fired. There are no doubt some rewrites and tweaks still left to be done, but at least there's a complete draft of the screenplay.
Of course, this is all assuming that The Suicide Squad keeps its release date and shooting schedule. Whether or not that gets pushed backward or forward really impacts what Vol. 3 will do and how much focus James Gunn can devote to it.
As of now, Marvel doesn't have any films slated to release in 2023. It has three films slated for 2022, but it's unclear which of its in-development projects will be attached to the dates. The other films that Marvel has in the pipeline are Black Widow, The Eternals, Shang-Chi, Black Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2, and the inevitable but still unannounced Captain Marvel 2. A movie like Guardians 3 will likely need that prime May real estate, so we will have to wait and see how Marvel's schedule shakes out.
There used to be a big question mark on Guardians 3, but now it's just a little bit smaller as fans can relax knowing the franchise is back in James Gunn's hands. We'll be paying close attention to how this all shakes out so stick with CinemaBlend and we'll keep you updated.