James Gunn Reveals How He Was (Temporarily) Fired From Guardians 3 Over Twitter Controversy

Rocket crying over Groot in Guardians 1

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a well-oiled machine over the past few years, recently extending to the small screen and racking up a slew of Emmy nominations in the process. But there were some speed bumps along the way, including the temporary firing of Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn. Years later, Gunn revealed exactly how was he fired over his infamous Twitter controversy.

For those who don’t remember, James Gunn landed himself in hot water back in the summer of 2018, where offensive tweets from a decade ago resurfaced. The backlash was a quick one, with Marvel Studios firing the filmmaker, before eventually doing an about face and bringing him back into the fold for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3-- as well as additional content for Disney+. Now Gunn has opened up about what that experience was like, saying:

It was conveyed to me by Kevin Feige. I called Kevin the morning it was going on, and I said, 'Is this a big deal?' And he goes, 'I don’t know.' That was a moment. I was like, 'You don’t know?' I was surprised. Later he called me — he himself was in shock — and told me what the powers that be had decided. It was unbelievable. And for a day, it seemed like everything was gone. Everything was gone. I was going to have to sell my house. I was never going to be able to work again. That’s what it felt like.

Filmmaker James Gunn might have a few horror movies under his belt, but having his career seemingly ripped out from under him was likely the most terrifying aspect of his career so far. While we know that this all worked out in the end, it was clearly a chilling moment for Gunn back in 2018.

James Gunn’s comments to The New York Times help to peel back the curtain on that mysterious and unprecedented time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His brief departure from Marvel allowed the acclaimed director to pivot over to DC for The Suicide Squad. While Warner Bros. moved fast with that deal, the shock of being fired from Guardians of the Galaxy was no doubt anxiety-inducing.

The Guardians of the Galaxy’s time in the MCU is currently available on Disney+, which will also be home to the Guardians Holiday Special and upcoming Groot shorts. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.

Later in his same interview, James Gunn went on to explain how he was changed by his Twitter controversy, and temporary firing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Gunn immediately apologized for his offensive jokes one the tweets resurfaced years ago. And now he’s elaborated on the effect of that rocky time, saying:

I’m more considerate of people’s feelings today. I had talked about this a lot before those tweets were [resurfaced]. They are awful things, that’s what my sense of humor was back then. But before this ever happened, I realized that I had closed myself off to things I thought were schmaltzy because I didn’t want to be vulnerable. This attitude — I can make a joke about anything, look how great I am — that’s just not the fullness of me as a human being. And I learned that long before I got called out for the tweets.

There you have it. It looks like James Gunn definitely looked inward after his controversy, which made him fear for his career. In the end Gunn was hired back, after the cast of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise stood in solidarity with their fearless leader. In addition to finishing the trilogy with Guardians 3, there is also supplemental material coming to the streaming space.

While Marvel fans are eagerly anticipated James Gunn’s return to the MCU, first he’ll be bringing his DC debut to theaters with The Suicide Squad. And for those who can’t wait to catch up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, the motley crew of heroes will pop up in Thor: Love and Thunder before the upcoming Gunn projects are completed.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is currently expected to arrive in theaters May 5th, 2023. In the meantime, check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.