Directing Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3 – Who’s Getting The Gig?

This whole high-profile firing of directors is becoming a thing, isn’t it?

I refer, of course, to the recent firing of director and writer James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. As widely reported, Gunn has been fired due to various off-colour jokes he made on his twitter account between 6 to 10 years ago, many of them making fun of very taboo topics such as 9/11 or pedophilia.

In a statement released to the press, Alan Horn, the Walt Disney studios chairman, stated:

The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.

I must confess, I’m a little put out by this decision. Gunn’s risque and inappropriate writings of the past have been known for years (he even apologised for it in 2012). Disney and Marvel didn’t seem to have too much of a problem when they first hired him for the original GOTG. (Though it is possible they weren’t aware of these specific tweets).

To be fair, long term, Gunn will be absolutely fine. Because this entire uproar has been over bad jokes, it won’t take too long for him to land on another project, even if it isn’t a Disney one. However, it does beg the question as to how long past mistakes should be held over a person’s head. Disney seem to have placed their flag at the decade-mark, but could it be longer? Will people now start hunting down old AOL chat logs to try and “expose” the mistakes of those they don’t like or agree with?

Admittedly, Disney’s decision is sort of understandable, considering what the Disney-owned TV network, ABC, did to Roseanne Barr in light of her tweets. But surely there’s a huge difference between a person who makes the same mistake over and over again (as Roseanne did); and one that made their mistakes nearly a decade ago and has repeatedly apologised for it?

From a film-making point of view, it’s also difficult not to compare this situation to the very public firing of directors Christopher Lord and Phil Miller from their roles on Solo: A Star Wars Storyespecially considering that Marvel and Lucasfilm are both under the Disney umbrella. Like Solo, there’s just no way this firing doesn’t have a massive impact on GOTG Vol. 3. True, certain aspects could be seen as much easier in Gunn’s case. After all, GOTG Vol.3 is still in pre-production and a replacement director should be very easy to secure.

But in other ways, the situation might be a tad more difficult. Assuming they don’t use Gunn’s original script, it’s highly unlikely they’re going to be able to fire the starting gun on their original production date of early 2019. That also has a huge knock-on effect on future productions (both Marvel and otherwise), as well as completely messing up actor’s schedules. In addition, it’s tough to avoid the fact that, having already worked with Gunn on two insanely successful films, the cast and crew might have some serious disagreements with this firing. Maybe not enough to bring down the entire film (unless these people really REALLY love James Gunn); but individuals like Dave Bautista (who plays Drax) have already made their feelings very clear.

Interestingly though, it seems that all the media outlets are reporting that Disney are the ones that fired Gunn, NOT Marvel. As such I’m wondering what on earth Kevin Feige is doing right now. Is he okay with Gunn’s firing? Did Disney consult with him? It’s entirely possible that, as we speak, Feige is fighting tooth and nail to get Disney’s decision overturned.

But for now Gunn is gone and the hunt begins for his replacement. Personally these are my top choices.

Taika Waititi

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The most obvious choice, but understandably so. Hell, Waititi pretty much made his own Guardians movie when he took on Thor: Ragnarok. Not only did he make the best Thor movie, but he also shepherded it to a worldwide gross of over $850 million. And when you look at his previous movies, like What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, it’s clear that his farcical approach to comedy would fit well within the world universe of the Guardians. Factor in that he also wrote the above three films, and it bodes well if he were to also take on the job of writing GOTG Vol. 3.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

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Again, someone strongly familiar with comedy-action would be a great advantage in bringing GOTG Vol. 3 to the screen. And there aren’t many directors that reach the same level as Lord and Miller. While they’ve done astounding things with their animated fare, their work on 21 Jump Street and its sequel is what best shows that this duo have what it takes to enter the Guardians universe.

Michelle MacLaren

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I have serious doubts if Marvel would hand over the reigns of such an established franchise to someone making their feature debut, but if they were, they could do a lot worse than selecting Michelle MacLaren. Though she’s only worked in television, her skill on episodes of Westworld and Game of Thrones; as well as her 20 years of directorial experience, shows that she has the vision to pull off the scale needed for GOTG Vol. 3.

Matthew Vaughn

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Back in September 2017 Matthew Vaughn admitted he was in negotiations to direct a sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel. However it’s been nearly a year with nary a peep from either him or Warner Brothers. If the negotiations have fallen through, then Marvel would have hit the jackpot. Considering Vaughn did (in a row) Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and Kingsman: The Secret Service, there’s no question the man has the talent to pull off the balance of action and comedy needed for a third Guardians movie.

Kay Cannon

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Considering that Marvel have often looked at the world of television during the search for directors (to great success I might add), it wouldn’t be a bad choice to take a look at Kay Cannon. While mostly a writer, her extensive experience from 30 Rock, New Girl and the Pitch Perfect trilogy strongly illustrate what she could bring to the Marvel universe. And with the recent release of her well received feature debut, Blockers, there’s little doubt Cannon could bring a unique touch to GOTG 3.

Edgar Wright

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I can’t imagine this guy ever returning to Marvel after his experience on Ant-Man, but stranger things have happened. Despite Wright’s long directorial career in the United Kingdom (as well as his secondary career as the co-God of geek culture alongside Joss Whedon); he only really took off worldwide with the success of last year’s Baby Driver. Fortunately that movie proved Wright has an insane eye for action and could easily pull off a Guardians movie. Whether or not Marvel and he can kiss and make up first remains to be seen.

Wes Anderson

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Because, fuck it. I want to see what Anderson would do with a Guardians movie.

So what are your thoughts? Was Gunn treated fairly? And who do you think would be the best choice to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

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