James Gunn Says Warner Bros. ‘Offered Whatever I Wanted’ After Disney Firing

Zack Sharf

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With “The Suicide Squad” now in production, writer-director James Gunn has become the rare filmmaker to direct comic book movies in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe. Gunn’s deal to direct “The Suicide Squad” famously closed after he was fired by Disney from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” for controversial jokes made on social media over a decade ago. Gunn recently revealed on Instagram (via The Playlist) that “The Suicide Squad” took shape because Warner Bros.’ offer to join the studio was as open ended as possible.

Replying to a fan question about Warner Bros.’ offer, Gunn said, “I was basically offered whatever I wanted. I most wanted to do ‘Squad.’” That Warner Bros. gave Gunn free reign to choose a film project is a testament to how eager the studio was to court the writer-director once his relationship with Disney fizzled out. Disney severed ties with Gunn prior to production on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” beginning. Gunn had already written the script.

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Disney’s firing of Gunn led to a storm of backlash from the industry, most notably from Gunn’s own “Guardians” cast members Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista, among others. Gunn had previously apologized for his insensitive jokes several years ago. Gunn’s firing prompted speculation about which director would take over the “Guardians” franchise. Disney severed ties with Gunn on July 20, 2018. Come March 2019, Disney had announced it was reinstating Gunn as “Guardians Vol. 3” director.

“That first day, I’m going to say it was the most intense of my entire life,” Gunn told Deadline earlier this year about being fired. “There have been other difficult days in my life, from the time I got sober when I was younger, to the death of friends who committed suicide. But this was incredibly intense. It happened, and suddenly it seemed like everything was gone. I just knew, in a moment that happened incredibly quickly, I had been fired. It felt as if my career was over.”

Part of Gunn’s new deal to direct “Guardians Vol. 3” is that he would be able to finish production on Warner Bros.’ “The Suicide Squad” first. That movie is now in production and already has an August 6, 2021 release date.

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