Will Marvel stick to that 2020 release window?
However you feel about it, the following is undoubtedly true: James Gunn is out. In the wake of his old tweets, Disney and Marvel Studios have severed all ties with the man, throwing into limbo the fate of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. These films have always been so distinctively James Gunn in terms of tone. Now begins the uneasy process of finding a new voice to craft the ongoing saga of … um …. whichever Guardians end up surviving Infinity War. It’s not the first time a marquee Marvel franchise has faced such a transition. See: The Russo Brothers taking over the Avengers movies from Joss Whedon. But it’s never happened quite like this before.
It’s worth stepping back for a moment to re-assess what exactly we knew about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 prior to Gunn’s firing, like, for example, has this movie ever been formally confirmed?
The answer to the latter is yes. For obvious reasons, Marvel has been tight-lipped about its post-Infinity War slate, but GotG 3 is one of the few titles the studio has confirmed. Here’s what Kevin Feige told Collider during the Ant-Man and the Wasp press tour late last month:
“[Writer/director] James [Gunn] has delivered a draft and we begin official pre-production on that very, very soon. It’ll be shooting early next year. Captain Marvel finishes in about two weeks, Spider-Man[: Far From Home] starts in about two weeks, and then Guardians 3 will start early next year.”
Gunn had indicated this third installment would be the end of the trilogy revolving around this particular iteration of the Guardians but hadn’t ruled out future movies, likely involving a slightly different team line-up (ala the rotating Avengers roster) and/or possibly branching further out into Marvel’s cosmic side.
Whether Marvel decides to continue on in that direction without Gunn is unclear but, again, not unprecedented. There would be no Ant-Man movie without Edgar Wright, not with the years he spent developing the project long after Marvel had lost any pressing interest in it. However, the moment he became a problem the studio moved on without him. The same could happen here.
The more immediate question is whether they’ll even use Gunn’s script, the one he apparently he just submitted to the studio, albeit likely as a first draft to be revised. Remember, post-Roseanne ABC and Disney would only agree to make a spin-off about the other characters on the show if they could be guaranteed Roseanne Barr wouldn’t profit from it in any way. They didn’t want to be accused of publicly scolding while continuing to enable behind the scenes, even if forced to through contractual arrangements. Transplanted to Marvel now, is Disney PR strategy again going to be so scorched Earth as to do everything possible to keep Gunn’s name from ever appearing in anything connected to Guardians 3?
Should there be a new script, then, won’t filming need to be pushed back? And is there anything Dave Bautista can do to signal his disapproval of the whole thing other than through a tweet? Won’t they miss their release date now?
Funny thing about that: Guardians 3 has never had an official release date. We’ve all just penciled it in for the May 1, 2020 date MCU staked claim to long ago. The last Guardians film was an early May release. Makes sense the next one will be as well. However, since that’s never been confirmed by Marvel the studio now has some wiggle room to readjust some things if need be without actually having to officially delay any movie further down the release calendar. There are, after all, two other MCU release dates in 2020 – 7/20 and 11/6, neither of which have confirmed titles attached to them.
Logistics. Logistics. Logistics. That will all work itself out.
But let’s get to the real big question: who replaces James Gunn?
The internet has a seemingly unanimous suggestion:
Makes sense. Taika Waititi revived the Thor franchise by making it more like Guardians of the Galaxy. Why not just shift him over to Guardians now? But what if Marvel already had a secret Thor: Ragnarok sequel lined up for him? And when exactly will he finish JoJo Rabbit, in which he’ll play a 10-year-old boy’s imaginary friend who also happens to be Adolf Hitler?
What do you think? Is Waititi the perfect and most obvious choice? Or is he a little too perfect, a little too obvious, whatever that might mean? Or is there no Guardians with Gunn? Or could some new blood actually benefit the franchise? Let me know in the comments.