When Disney fired James Gunn from directing "Guardians of the Galaxy 3" in July, it came as a shock to many, and was the result of offensive tweets from years ago resurfacing online. However, fans have hoped for the last three months that Disney would change its mind.
Gunn managed to turn the little-known Guardians into fan favorites of the MCU, and the two movies he directed — "Guardians of the Galaxy" in 2014 and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" in 2017 — grossed a combined $1.6 billion at the global box office. In other words, Gunn left his mark on the MCU. If Disney goes forward with "Guardians 3" (it's on hold for the time being), any director who follows him will have big shoes to fill.
Luckily, there are a handful of worthy filmmakers who could be ready for the challenge. We've gathered together a list below of some who could take on "Guardians 3" based on their previous work and Marvel's own tendencies when hiring directors.
There are the obvious choices such as Brad Bird, who already has a relationship with Disney having directed the "Incredibles" movies, and Taika Waititi, whose "Thor: Ragnarok" featured slapstick comedy and space adventure similar to the "Guardians" movies.
There are also less-obvious choices, but Marvel has found success in lesser-known filmmakers like the Russo Brothers ("Avengers: Infinity War") and Jon Watts ("Spider-Man: Homecoming"). Kay Cannon, for instance, proved she has a great understanding of comedy with this year's "Blockers," and Marvel values comedic chops just as much as the ability to direct an action sequence.
And then there are the long shots, the directors who would be more than capable but the studio probably wouldn't consider, or would likely pass given their history or current schedule.
Below are directors who could replace James Gunn on "Guardians of the Galaxy 3":
Credits include: "The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," "Tommorowland," "Incredibles 2"
Bird already has a working relationship with Disney, having directed "Ratatouille" and both "Incredibles" movies, whose themes of family superheroics are on par with the "Guardians" movies. He's also proven he can handle a live-action set-piece or two with "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," one of the best movies in the franchise.
Obvious choice: Peyton Reed
Credits include: "Bring It On," "Yes Man," "Ant-Man," "Ant-Man and the Wasp"
Reed came on the first "Ant-Man" late after original director Edgar Wright left, but he showed a better handling of the Marvel universe and its blend of action and comedy with "Ant-Man and the Wasp." One could assume he'd be right at home if he were to direct a "Guardians" movie.
Obvious choice: Taika Waititi
Credits include: "What We Do In The Shadows," "Hunt for the Wilderpeople," "Thor: Ragnarok"
Waititi's "Thor: Ragnarok" is as close to a "Guardians" movie in tone as any other Marvel movie, which makes him a no-brainer. The only problem is that he's currently filming war-comedy "Jojo Rabbit," which could cause scheduling conflicts.