Director James Gunn, who helmed the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films, was fired from the third film last July. He was axed after old social media posts came to light in which he joked about rape and pedophilia, and made other shocking comments.
Gunn was backed by numerous cast members in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series, and while no other director was named to replace him, Disney — a company with a family-friendly brand to protect — stuck with their decision.
Now, they have reversed it. Gunn will indeed direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Deadline reported Friday. Gunn will both write and direct the film, which does not yet have an official release date.
According to the report by Deadline‘s Mike Fleming, Jr., the decision to bring Gunn back was “mulled and actually made months ago” after extensive discussions between Disney corporate brass and the leaders of the Disney-owned Marvel brand. Disney boss Alan Horn, Deadline reports, met with Gunn several times. Impressed with his contrition, Horn ultimately okayed the director’s return to the project.
The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out in 2014, with the second arriving in 2017. Both were massive hits, despite the Guardians characters not being household names outside of comic book enthusiast circles.
Gunn, following his departure from the third Guardians film, signed on to direct Suicide Squad 2. That film will still happen, with Gunn directing, and he will begin work on Guardians after it’s completed. The original script, one that Gunn wrote prior to his firing, will reportedly be used.
Following the firing — which followed Mike Cernovich and other right-wing journalists digging up aforementioned old tweets — Gunn issued an emphatic apology.
“Many people who have followed my career know, when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo,” Gunn said at the time, per The Hollywood Reporter. “As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.”
Following the release of this month’s hit Captain Marvel, the next Marvel Cinematic Universe film is Avengers: Endgame, which arrives in theaters at the end of April. Spider-man: Far From Home arrives July 5. Marvel has not announced its release road map for 2020 and later, but expected projects include a sequel to Black Panther, a Black Widow standalone film, a Doctor Strange sequel, The Eternals, and Shang-Chi, which Destin Daniel Cretton was recently hired to direct.