With what felt like just a snap of the fingers last summer, James Gunn’s brimming career was suddenly in jeopardy. After being presented with an archive of joke tweets from the director making light of pedophilia and rape, Disney promptly fired him from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Though Gunn would go on to finish the script, it looked like his involvement in the franchise he’d helped create was terminated. Stars and fans of the movie alike quickly launched a viral petition to bring him back though, and in a shocking turn of events, Disney did just that.
Now, in an interview with Deadline, the director has spoken out for the first time about the experience and the lessons he learned. And from the looks of it, he learned them the hard way.
When asked how he came to grips with losing the series he’d brought to the screen, this is the comparison he made:
“It was like the break-up of my marriage. I got divorced, and then had those conversations with my ex-wife: “Let’s get along as well as we possibly can and be kind to each other because we’re both a large part of each other’s lives.”
Diplomacy during this time would end up being an important factor in Gunn’s being brought back. Throughout the unemployment period, the usually outspoken filmmaker claimed and maintained sole responsibility for his actions, directing most of his frustrations back at himself.
“The truth is I had a lot of anger at myself and I really had to try to put that aside. 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,” Gunn said.
“But in the same way I needed to not be lashing out at whoever fired me…I also had to let go of some of that rage towards myself as well. Otherwise I just wasn’t going to be able to make it through.”
One of the most difficult things Gunn had to cope with losing the franchise was also losing the characters that came along with it; characters like Rocket Raccoon, who the director says he relates to the most.
“I was set to really finish [Rocket’s] arc in Guardians 3. [Not being able to finish that story] was a big loss to me.”
Though Gunn’s script would’ve been the one used to reign the third installment regardless, there’s obviously a connection the writer/director would’ve missed had he not been at the helm of the upcoming project. However, that’s not something he’ll have to worry about anymore. That period of dread’s now over, and Gunn has his spot at the top of the Guardians once again – this time, with a new perspective.
“There’s a lot of really positive stuff that’s coming out of all of this, and one of those positives is I was able to learn. People have to be able to learn from mistakes. If we take away the possibility for someone to learn and become a better person, I’m not sure what we are left with.”
For more, you can check out the full interview here, and wait to see what Gunn comes up with once Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hits theaters in 2021.