With James Gunn No Longer Directing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, What Comes Next For The Franchise?

Last Friday, Disney fired James Gunn and while the fallout continues, what does his departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe mean for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Here's everything we know so far...

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Much to the shock of, well, everyone, Disney fired James Gunn on Friday when some Tweet he actually already apologised for back in 2012 resurfaced. The whole situation is bizarre, especially as Disney must have known about them before he started work on Guardians of the Galaxy and his firing definitely feels like it was a rash decision which could very well backfire on the studio in a big way.

Hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition demanding that Disney re-hire the filmmaker and everyone from Dave Bautista to Jim Starlin and Michael Rooker have made it clear that they are not happy with what's happened to Gunn. The possible ramifications of Tweets like these being used against someone years later 
is obviously worrying but what about the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

While this entire thing is obviously bigger than that, Gunn's firing is going to hurt both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and the Marvel Cosmic Universe, something Gunn was expected to take charge off following the release of the threequel. Below, you'll find everything we know so far about the situation and what we believe comes next for the beloved franchise after this shocking news broke last week...

Taika Waititi Takes Over And Throws Thor Into The Mix

Ever since Gunn was fired, there's one name which has repeatedly come up in regards to who could take over the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and that's Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi. There's no denying that he would be a good fit for and seeing as the God of Thunder's interactions with the Guardians in Avengers: Infinity War were so much fun, a mashup of some sort definitely has potential.

It may not be the Guardians movie some fans want and it would be vastly different to what Gunn had planned but the box office potential would be huge and
throwing Thor into the mix could help moviegoers forget the initial scandal surrounding Vol. 3 (which would no doubt be retitled and then taken in a very different direction). Whether or not Waititi would want the job is another matter. 

Disney Rehires James Gunn

After the Roseanne Barr scandal, it definitely feels like Disney overreacted in regards to how they handled Gunn's dismissal, especially as those Tweets first resurfaced in 2012 when he was hired to direct Guardians of the Galaxy and he actually apologised at the time. Given the backlash to their decision and the support for Gunn, it's entirely feasible that the studio could reverse its decision.

Releasing a statement saying they believe Gunn has changed as a person since making those crude jokes and explaining that he's inspired millions with the positive messages in the Guardians movies could set things right and see him brought back into the fold (Kevin Feige will no doubt fight his corner too). Unfortunately, I find it hard to imagine Disney backing down given Alan Horn's comments. 


Various Cast Members Refuse To Return

Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana have yet to release statements regarding Gunn's firing beyond some vague remarks on Twitter but Dave Bautista has not shied away from expressing anger and while he's no doubt under contract for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, he could still refuse to star in that or ask for his role to be made much smaller because he doesn't have any interest working for another director.

Of all the cast members, I think he's the one who is most likely going to turn down the chance to star in a Guardians movie without Gunn at the helm, especially as it was the filmmaker who gave him his big break in Hollywood and they've become close friends. Money talks at the end of the day but I wouldn't be at all surprised if a number of actors have already shared concerns about the future with Feige.


Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Is Put On Hold

Now that Gunn has completed the script for Vol. 3, work on the threequel was expected to begin in earnest this fall with shooting starting as soon as next January so it could meet that rumoured 2020 release date. Unfortunately, it now seems unlikely that the movie will meet its release date because Marvel will have to take some time to figure out what they're going to do with the beloved series. 

There's so much negativity surrounding the movie following Gunn's firing, it's hard to imagine any news on it being embraced by fans right now and a shortlist of directors popping up online in the next few months could backfire on the studio in a big way just like when Edgar Wright was fired from Ant-Man and Peyton Reed received the brunt of fan frustrations. As a result, it could be placed on hold.


Same Script, Different Director

Here's an interesting predicament for Marvel. Right now, they have a completed script for Vol. 3 which was written by James Gunn so do they use that or would keeping his screenplay but not him as the director make them total hypocrites? After all, if they're worried about there being backlash over him working on the movie, how can you have "Written by James Gunn" be the first thing audiences see?

With that in mind, I fully expect Marvel to find a new writer to take charge of the movie, something which will change the dynamic of the threequel in a massive way, especially as it seems unlikely they'll find someone capable of dreaming up a soundtrack for specific scenes which would then go on to be a best-seller by itself. Honestly, the franchise might end up unrecognisable without Gunn at the helm.

Back To The Drawing Board

So, taking everything we've said into account, it could be that Marvel is now going to go back to the drawing board and completely reinvent the franchise. That might mean no catchy soundtrack and a whole new look for the team and while that may seem just wrong, the Russos handled the characters perfectly well in Avengers: Infinity War so that's proof that the heroes can survive without Gunn.

Throw in the fact we're entering a whole new era of storytelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe when Phase 4 launches and it's fair to say that a soft reboot for the team could work in that setting. Sure, it means dropping a lot of Gunn's ideas and not necessarily finishing the trilogy as he planned but I would be very surprised if Marvel isn't currently mulling over ideas for what exactly comes next.


No More Marvel Cosmic Universe

Bear in mind that James Gunn was supposed to take charge of the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe following the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, developing spinoffs and new movies set in outer space and revolving around characters like the original Guardians and Nova. Well, those plans are no doubt being put on hold right now as who else can Marvel trust to take on that role?

While Kevin Feige would have no doubt been heavily involved, he probably understands that Gunn is best suited to expanding the world the Guardians call home and bringing in an outsider to do that in his place might not work. As a result, plans for a Marvel Cosmic Universe may be put on hold as the studio instead refocuses its efforts on telling stories which are very much grounded on Earth.


The Guardians Find A New Home

In recent years, Marvel Comics has used characters from the Fantastic Four in other titles due to Ike Perlmutter not wanting to give the heroes the spotlight and essentially promote heroes owned by Fox. That means The Thing has been a Guardian and the Human Torch joined the Inhumans, so what if Marvel Studios chooses to the do something similar with this lot in the MCU moving forward? 

For example, Rocket and Groot could join The Avengers and Star-Lord could show up elsewhere along with Gamora before an eventual reunion takes place (which would be welcomed by fans and probably long overdue by that point). It's not an ideal solution by any means but it would allow these characters to live on in the MCU while the studio figures out their franchise's future after Gunn's departure. 


Fans Boycott The Movie

This is a very real risk for Marvel Studios and could be why they choose to hold off on working on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The negativity surrounding Solo: A Star Wars Story and Justice League proved that behind the scenes drama can have an impact on box office takings as both fans and regular moviegoers alike will sour on a release if they know that it may not be all it's cracked up to be. 

Plus, knowing what critics are like, they could choose to crap all over the threequel just because Gunn isn't involved; remember how many of them said Ant-Man would have been a better movie with Edgar Wright at the helm? That wasn't at all relevant to that film but it still had an impact on their verdicts so when you throw in the fact that fans could turn on the franchise, Marvel may be
on trouble.

Avengers 4 Reshoots Set Up Something New For The Team

This is a long shot and would be very reactionary on Marvel's part but we know Avengers 4 reshoots are scheduled for later this month/next month, so Marvel could change the way the story arc for the Guardians wraps up in order to delay their return and put Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on the backburner. They could even kill the team but that seems a tad ridiculous and a real overreaction!

Either way, it would make sense for Marvel to sew some seeds here for the team's future and reshoots might be required if there's already something in there which ties into what Gunn was planning. It's hard to say, though, but this is certainly one possibility. What do you guys think? As always, let us know your thoughts on the franchise's future and our ideas in the comments section down below. 

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