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 nearly more familiar for the drama around him than for the drama he creates on screen.
Speaking with Deadline, Gunn went over how his firing by Disney impacted his life and how he viewed himself. "This wasn't a free speech issue", Gunn said. I really believe he is a good man and I think he hired me back because he thought that was the right thing to do ... There was never any argument of that.
"I don't blame anyone", he says of his initial reaction to being sacked. That first day. I'm going to say it was the most intense of my entire life.
Gunn said he had a lot of anger at himself and did a lot of soul-searching in the wake of his firing, but that he ultimately he had to let go of that rage in order to heal and move on. But I just wanted to be comfortable saying goodbye and splitting up, and that's where my head was at, even in the very early meeting we had, a week or two weeks after it all happened. "It felt as if my career was over", he added.
Gunn also talked about the "outpouring" of love he received from those around him after the firing.
"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. As much as I wasn't reading the news, I was feeling the shrapnel constantly through all of the texts and calls from my friends and family who were so upset at this or that. Gunn mentioned that when the chairman of Walt Disney Studio, Alan Horn, invited him back to helm Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Gunn got "teary-eyed in his office".
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. I had to realize what I needed to do differently in my life.
Of the characters in "Guardians of the Galaxy", Gunn said he was most sad about not getting to finish the story he started with Rocket (Bradley Cooper). "Because in the same way where I know what I've done wrong, I know that I've done a lot of wrong things in my life, things that led to this moment". The tweets were 10-years old and unearthed by some hardcore Right Wing conservatives and Disney felt they needed to act fast after just firing Roseanne Barr and cancelling the supremely successful Roseanne revival series.
Gunn is excited to be able to finish the Guardians' - and especially Rocket Raccoon's, a character he says he is especially attached to - story arc that he began with the first film, an opportunity he had grimly accepted was lost even though Marvel had said they would still use his script for Vol.3.