It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours in the Marvel fanbase.
At the top end, it’s been alleged that Disney fully intends to stand by its decision to terminate James Gunn’s MCU contract, leaving Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 without a director (for now) and the franchise’s cosmic series in need of a new shepherd.
Before things started to unravel for the ousted filmmaker, though, Gunn delivered two crowd-pleasing hits in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, which have a combined box office total of $1.6 billion. And it’s now been revealed that James Gunn enjoyed the cinematic equivalent of free rein while crafting his cosmic sequel, as Marvel brass seemingly had no creative input on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
I didn’t ever have an ending for what Guardians 2 was supposed to be. I didn’t have a single story point that was ever discussed with Marvel before I wrote the story. So, where that movie ends up, with Nebula going off and doing her thing, that’s what I mean by people, we kind of do our own things. We write our own little story, and then it goes off to these guys, and I gave [the Russos] a script very, very early on, and they were like, ‘That’s perfect, because that works great for us with where Nebula is, what we want to do with the story’, and it goes off. And I think that is the fluid nature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s that moving from story to story and letting a Russo brothers movie be a Russo brothers movie.
It’s a testimony to the fluid, dynamic nature of the MCU that Joe and Anthony Russo, directors of Avengers: Infinity War, were able to continue the story of Nebula (and many other characters) without treading on Gunn’s toes, story-wise.
Alas, now that Disney has closed the door on James Gunn for good, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise will be trusted to another director in the not-so-distant future. Jon Favreau, Taika Waititi and even the Russo Brothers were all name-dropped as potential replacements, though it’s looking increasingly likely that the Mouse House will cast its net beyond Marvel’s pool of directors in order to locate Gunn’s successor.