Well, folks. They tried.
Following an emotional open letter written and signed by the entire Guardians of The Galaxy cast and an ongoing support movement from fans of the franchise, a new report over at Variety makes it pretty clear: the odds of James Gunn being rehired to direct Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 3 are very slim, indeed.
Gunn, you'll recall, was recently fired off the project following the discovery of dozens of offensive, years-old tweets written by the director (punchlines included references to rape, child molestation, AIDS and the Holocaust), all of which proved a bridge too far for Disney. Despite the deletion of the tweets, multiple apologies, and the fact that, y'know, these tweets were written long before Gunn was ever working for the Maus Haus, the director was quickly terminated from the franchise. He has since kept his distance from social media.
"The studio recognized that Guardians cast members such as Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana stopped short of threatening to quit the series, but there is widespread belief that the actors will show up for future installments, regardless of their personal feelings about Gunn. For one thing, most are under contract and would face legal action if they opted out of a sequel."
"As for replacing Gunn, Disney feels no pressure to immediately find a new director, according to sources, and is willing to wait until the right A-list filmmaker comes along. For one, the studio never gave the film an official release date, even though it was widely expected to hit theaters within the next two years. Depending on how long it takes to land the right director, Disney may in fact wind up pushing back the film’s original February 2019 start date."
Insiders tell Variety that the decision to fire Gunn, made at the highest levels of the company, is unlikely to be reversed despite the public showing of support for Gunn from both fans and castmembers. Insiders also reiterated that the studio was caught off-guard by the tweets, which they maintain they weren't aware of at the time of Gunn's hiring.
You can head on over to Variety to read the rest of their report, but that's the gist here: Gunn's probably not coming back, they're looking for an A-lister to replace him, it may be getting delayed, and Disney doesn't seem too concerned about the possibility of the cast walking off the job thanks to the iron-clad contracts they signed. How you feel about this will largely depend on how you felt about Gunn's firing in the first place, and we encourage all of you to share your opinions on that - and the above - in the comments below.
Stay tuned for more on Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 3 as it becomes available.