With Disney firing James Gunn as the helmer of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – a move that’s caused over 275k fans (at the time of this writing) to sign a petition at change.org calling for his rehiring – the hotly-anticipated threequel, which is expected to introduce comic book character Adam Warlock to the MCU, is now in desperate need of a director.
It’s a tricky ordeal, to say the least. The Guardians films, and Gunn’s overall influence on the tone and look of the space-story elements of the MCU (Thor even brightened up and leaned into full comedy with Ragnarok), can’t be overstated. Keeping everything in mind – from the biting banter between the ragtag Guardians team, the surrogate family elements, the carefully-curated ’70s mixtape soundtrack, and Gunn’s specific vision for the next chapter in the tale – Marvel basically needs to find someone who can seamlessly slip into a cursed-blessing of a role.
Here’s a quick rundown of some names that could be in consideration, though based on Vol. 3’s production schedule and some of the current projects these directors are focused on now, it could be a no go. Still, it’s worth a few moments of speculation.
Obviously, the established MCU name most fans are clamoring for is Taika Waititi – the man who Guadians’d up the Thor franchise with the monstrously enjoyable Thor: Ragnarok. Waititi gave everyone an awesome buddy flick/road movie while juicing up the Asgardian lore with a swirling, swashbuckling laugh fest – which also doubled as a polite palate cleanser before the doom and gloom of Avengers: Infinity War.
Unfortunately, Waititi is deep into Jojo Rabbit right now – starring himself, along with MCU-ers Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell – and it’s very unlikely he’d be done in time for the next installment of Guardians (unless its production timeline is pushed, which could yet happen).
Let’s get all the “keeping it in the MCU” names out of the way who’re currently – you know – doing other things.
Jon Favreau, whose heavy-leanings into comedic banter, with gateway film Iron Man and its sequel, basically set the blueprint for the entire “dramedy” aspect of Marvel Cinematic Universe. Favreau’s been out of the MCU directing game since Iron Man 2, but he’s still been present playing Happy Hogan in both Iron Man 3 and, more recently, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Like Waititi though, Favreau is busy — with the live-action Lion King movie in his case, so it’s not really possibly for him to contribute anything to Guardians other than possibly a Happy Hogan cameo (hey, Happy could go to space, right?). Unless, as previously stated, the Guardians production schedule changes…
What’s Christmas like out in the far reaches of the galaxy? Well, we could all find out if Marvel gets back in the Shane Black business. Also known for his quick wit, buddy-picture dynamics, and inventive action scenes, Black helmed Iron Man 3 and is currently out and about hyping his new Predator sequel.
Black’s been on the books to direct a remake of Doc Savage starring Dwane “The Rock” Johnson, but that project’s been stalled for quite awhile so he could be ready and able to slip into Vol. 3 and infuse it with his own brand of madness – which is different from Gunn’s vibe, sure, but still focused on playful dialogue and character building.
Hey, there are worse things than being known as “the guy who takes over for other directors in the MCU,” so if Peyton Reed’s willing to take over Guardians, the job is probably his if he wants it. The first Ant-Man film may have had a few clumsy moments of tonal clash, due to Reed replacing Edgar Wright, but Ant-Man and the Wasp really gelled as a comedy and showcased a much better use of the ensemble.
Reed’s role as Vol. 3’s director would still be unenviable since he’d, once again, be replacing a director who has a very specific energy and voice, but he’s ostensibly free to do so and it wouldn’t be the worst fit in the world.
The incredibly talented Michelle MacLaren may have dropped out of her last superhero directing gig – Wonder Woman – and was replaced by Patty Jenkins, but that doesn’t mean she’s not ready for some down and dirty Guardians antics.
McLaren’s resume is uber-impressive but, admittedly, it’s not all that comedy-centric (numerous Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad episodes, etc) BUT she’s currently directing Chris Pratt in the comic book-based Cowboy Ninja Viking and there’s the possible Vol. 3 connection.
If you’re looking for an accomplished director with a flare for irreverent group antics, than look no further than Broken Lizard’s Jay Chandrasekhar, veteran writer/director of (and performer in) not only all the Broken Lizard films – from both Super Trooper movies to Beerfest and Club Dread – but also a workhorse director for dozens of TV comedies like Happy Endings, Community, Chuck, The Goldbergs, and New Girl. Chandrasekhar, plain and simple, knows how to get the absolute best out of a comedic ensemble.
With Guardians already being a powerhouse franchise, we’re not sure if Marvel’s willing to take a chance on a new face, but that just might happen if everyone else’s dance card is full. And Emily Carmichael, co-writer of Pacific Rim Uprising, and co-writer of the upcoming Jurassic World 3, was previously in consideration to direct Captain Marvel. So it’s very likely she’s still on the company’s radar.
Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service) is no stranger to comic book films, and X-Men: First Class showed us that he can superbly take over an established franchise and breathe new life into it – but would he be willing to take over Guardians of the Galaxy after he admitted, a few years back, that the first Guardians film basically made him cancel his planned Flash Gordon reboot since it had the same comedic tone and he didn’t want it to seem like he was copying it? Then again, he clearly wants to make a comedic space adventure…
Joe and Anthony Russo
It would be asking a lot of the Russo brothers, after two Captain American movies and two giant Avengers films, to step into the third Guardians installment, but – hey – that’s why truckloads of money exist.
As it stands, the Russos are the only other directors to, basically, direct the Guardians cast in an MCU movie. And just a few months ago the two opened up about being excited to keep working for Marvel after the big upcoming merger with Fox. But does that mean they have designs on non-MCU properties and not already-established characters?
From the “never say never” files, stranger things have happened. Hey, we know that Marvel and Edgar Wright once thought they could work together…
Who do you think should director Guardians Vol. 3? Let’s discuss in the comments!