James Gunn came totally out of the left field for Marvel and absolutely smashed it with Guardians Of The Galaxy. A little-known (outside of comics fans) title was suddenly hailed as Star Wars for a new generation and everything looked primed for a stratospheric career.
Now, ahead of the release of The Suicide Squad, director James Gunn has given a lengthy interview with The New York Times where he openly discusses how it nearly all went wrong for him.
In July 2018 Gunn found old tweets of his containing bad taste and inappropriate jokes had been uncovered by internet offense archaeologists and were now being weaponized. Suddenly two successful Guardians Of The Galaxy movies were not enough to save him. He apologized for the tweets and took responsibility. He then spoke about what happened next:
“It was conveyed to me by Kevin Feige [the Marvel Studios president]. 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.”
Gunn went on to talk about “Cancel Culture” and gave a surprisingly nuanced answer, given what happened to him. He also mentioned accountability. Something potentially refreshing in this world of non-apologies from carefully managed PR representatives:
“I understand people’s preoccupation with that term. But it’s such a bigger issue than that. Because cancel culture also is people like Harvey Weinstein, who should be cancelled. People who have gotten cancelled and then remain cancelled – most of those people deserved that. The paparazzi are not just the people on the streets – they’re the people combing Twitter for any past sins. All of that sucks. It’s painful. But some of it is accountability. And that part of it is good. It’s just about finding that balance.”
He also revealed that as soon as the sacking broke, Warner Bros. was on the phone and he was offered a Superman movie. Man Of Steel 2, finally? He turned down that offer and decided to do The Suicide Squad instead. He felt it suited where he was, personally, more than tackling Superman.
Disney and Marvel eventually re-hired him to come back for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. It is widely known that Dave Bautista said he was done as Drax if Gunn didn’t return. Marvel was also probably nervous about one of their promising stable being embraced by DC and Warner Bros.
One day we are sure what else happened behind the scenes will all be revealed.