The firing of James Gunn off of Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is turning into a landmine of a topic. Everyone has their opinion or hot take, so to navigate these dangerous waters (I.e, without indulging in political speculation or painting anyone as a villain), here are the facts:
- On July 20, 2018– James Gunn was removed as director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise after a series of offensive tweets were unearthed.
- The almost decade old tweets dealt with obscene topics such as pedophilia, 9/11, the holocaust and rape.
- The cast all petitioned to have Gunn keep his job with Dave Bautista (Drax) going so far as to threaten to quit if he wasn’t rehired.
- August 10, 2018– Photos from the past of Gunn attending a “To Catch a Predator” themed party surface. With Gunn dressed as a priest and two unidentified women dressed as under aged girls. There’s also a clown and a Easter bunny in the pics for some reason.
- August 16, 2018– Disney meets with Gunn but decides to not rehire him.
Whether you agree with Disney’s decision or not, Guardians 3 still needs a director. Petitions didn’t work nor will boycotts. Gunn isn’t coming back. So instead of bitching and moaning like a bunch of Negative Nancys, let’s focus our energy on who might get the job instead.
For this list, I’ve decided to exclude the obvious usual suspects:
- No one who’s currently or previously worked on a MCU film (this includes Peyton Reed, Taika Waititi or Jon Favreau.)
- No one who’s been rumored or approached to direct an MCU film (including Edgar Wright, Guillermo Del Toro, Lord & Miller or Michelle MacLaren.)
- No one working on any non-MCU Disney related property such as Star Wars, Pixar or their animation division. (So no Ron Howard, Brad Bird or Gore Verbinski.)
- Or directors currently attached to projects.
Gunn’s firing brings with it a lot of negatives but the silver lining is the potential for some new blood into the series. Disney will most likely hire whoevers currently on their payroll to keep schedule but there is the possibility they’ll try and shake things up and offer something unique. Just like Gunn did.
These are the Top Ten Best Directors to Helm Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
10. Tomasz Baginski
Notable works: The Cathedral (2002), Fallen Art (2004), The Kinematograph (2009)
Tomasz Baginski is a Polish animation director who’s produced numerous critically acclaimed shorts (The Cathedral even netted him an Oscar nomination), directed the intros to every game in the Witcher video game series and is currently directing a series of live action shorts commissioned by Poland.
- He’d bring a unique take to the material.
- He knows how to film visual SFX and has worked with CGI before.
- The Witcher intros prove he knows how the stage action and his shorts are proof that he’s a fan of Sci-fi.
- He’s never helmed a feature length film before.
- He’s never made films for an American studio.
- I’m not 100% sure he even speaks any English.
09. Scott Sanders
Notable works: Thick as Thieves (1999), Black Dynamite (2009), Aztec Warrior (2016?)
Scott Sanders is the director of the underrated crime drama Thick as Thieves and one of the greatest parodies ever– Black Dynamite. He also directed Aztec Warrior, which sounded amazing but seems to have either gotten cancelled or permanently shelved. It involved Luis Guzman as a Luchador fighting everything from a demon to ED-209 from Robocop. For some reason, the world has been denied this treasure.
- He’s adept at action and comedy (seriously, if you’ve never seen Black Dynamite you’re missing out on one the funniest films ever made.)
- He’s a writer and a director, which will be useful in case the screenplay needs any rewrites.
- He’d bring a distinct vision to the project.
- He’s never worked on a big budget production.
- He’s never worked with CGI before.
08. Michael Davis
Notable works: Monster Man (2003), Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)
Michael Davis directed a pretty solid horror film involving a monster truck called Monster Man but is most well known for directing the non-stop action extravaganza known as Shoot ‘Em Up.
- He’s on this list solely because of Shoot ‘Em Up, which is one of the most entertaining films of the last ten years.
- He is probably more suited for something more action packed like the Punisher or the Defenders but I think he has the potential to do something really crazy with the material. As long as he doesn’t rewrite the screenplay.
- Limited experience as a director.
- Terrible track record.
- He wrote Double Dragon. ‘Nuff said.
07. Tommy Wirkola
Notable works: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead (2014), What Happened to Monday (2017)
Tommy Wirkola is a Norwegian film director known for cult films you’ve most likely never seen.
- With each subsequent film, his talents as a director have grown, with each film becoming bigger in scope and ambition.
- He’s proven he can handle big budgets and What Happened to Monday showed he knows how to get great performances out of his actors.
- He’s not too dissimilar in tone, humor and talent of Gunn.
- Although clearly talented, Wirkola’s track record is a bit wonky, with only one truly great film (Red Snow 2) on his resume. But I’d also argue that film is as good as anything Gunn made pre Guardians, so consider that a light con. A diet con, if you will.
- War Pigs (which is currently in production) may exclude him from the running.
06. Joseph Pelling and Becky Sloan
Notable works: Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared (2011-2016)
Pelling and Sloan are the eclectic duo that brought the world the insane internet series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, a faux children’s program that slowly descends into madness.
- Pelling and Sloan are as off the wall a choice as you could possibly get but so was Gunn. He originally cut his teeth with Troma and eventually moved on to crazy cult films and lest we forget, the directors of Infinity War were hired because of an episode of Community. So crazier things have happened.
- The MCU has slowly been taking more and more chances on directors with unique visions and is loosening their grip on the leash. Which has made Phase 3 their most successful in terms of quality. If they’re looking for a director that could bring something unique, Pelling and Sloan definitely fit the bill.
- They’ve never directed a feature length film.
- They’ve never handled a big budget before.
- Unless the Guardians turn into puppets in the first act (due to space magic shenanigans), they might need a very helpful DP because they’ve never directed actors either.
05. Matt Johnson
Notable works: The Dirties (2013), Operation Avalanche (2016), Nirvanna the Band The Show (2016-)
Matt Johnson is the independent phenom that operates as a one man band. He writes, produces, directs and stars in everything he does. He’s a veritable wunderkind.
- Since Guardians 3 is in danger of losing money due to potential boycotts, they might try and save money by making it on the cheap and if that’s the case, they’ll need a cost effective director. Based on his work on Operation Avalanche (he filmed inside of NASA and shot an entire sequence involving Stanley Kubrick that looked better than the CGI double of Cushing in Rogue One for pennies) Johnson could easily deliver a masterpiece far under budget.
- He’s never worked on a huge studio film before.
- The subject matter of his film The Dirties might exclude him.
- Unless he’s in deep with the loan sharks, there’s no way he’d sacrifice his freedom to work as a scab.
04. Jackson Publick & Doc Hammer
Notable works: The Venture Bros (2003-)
Jackson Publick & Doc Hammer are the creators of the Venture Bros, the greatest show you’ve never seen.
- The Venture Bros were goofing on old school Marvel superheroes long before the MCU was ever a thing, so they already have an affection for them, with Hammer even going so far as to say he’d love to write a Doctor Strange film.
- The special All This and Gargantua 2 (inarguably the shows best episode), has more plot, action and comedy packed into 45 minutes, than most films that are double that length *cough* Guardians of the Galaxy 2 *cough*
- The Venture Bros is a show that’s very much in the cool kids club, which means Disney will get cool points for hiring outside of the box. Cool points that they desperately need.
- Seriously, watch the Venture Bros. It’s amazing and if you have, you know that they’d be perfect for–if not helming–at least rewriting the script.
- Neither Publick nor Hammer have ever directed anything in live action.
- Neither one of them has ever written or rewritten a movie script.
- They’re not the most Johnny on-the-spot when it comes to deadlines (each season of the Venture Bros takes about two years.)
- Since Gunn was partially fired due to jokes about pedophilia, they might be too controversial due to the fact that one of the characters on the show is a recovering pedophile. He’s not a main character but his existence may be used against them.
03. Cary Joji Fukunaga
Notable works: Sin Nombre (2009), True Detective (2014), Beasts of No Nation (2015), Maniac (2018)
The critics took notice of Fukunaga after the fantastic Sin Nombre, with the rest of the world finally catching up after his extraordinary work on the first season of True Detective.
- Arguably the best director on this list, Fukunaga might be overqualified for this film but his work on IT and the mini series Maniac, show he wants to break into more genre related material.
- Most of the directors on this list were chosen because of their unique visions, all offering something different. Fukunaga was chosen because he’s on his way to becoming this generation’s Scorsese.
- There are none. Give him the job if the other two on this list pass.
02. Joseph Kahn
Notable works: Torque (2004), Detention (2011), Bodied (2018)
Joseph Kahn is the most prolific music video director working today. If you’ve watched five minutes of MTV (when they’re showing videos) any time within the last six years, you’ve seen one of his music videos.
- His background as a music video director means he knows how to produce a finished product fast, which is invaluable considering the project is now in crunch time.
- He has an unmistakable style that would fit perfectly within the world Gunn created.
- Based on his track record, he has the potential to make the craziest film in the MCU, which is most definitely a pro.
- He might be to busy (the man works like a workhorse.)
- Due to their working relationship, he might be inclined to put Taylor Swift in the film, which might be… not great? I’m trying desperately to think of a reason why he shouldn’t direct it and I’m coming up empty.
01. Hiro Murai
Notable Works: Atlanta (2016-), This is America (2018)
Hiro Murai‘s music videos for artists such as: Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, David Guetta and Massive Attack as well as his work on television shows like Legion, Barry and Atlanta; have turned him into a veritable Mount Vesuvius who’s seconds away from blowing the fuck up.
- Hiring Murai, almost guarantees Donald Glover would be attached as either an actor or to punch up the script. Which is a win-win.
- Anyone who’s seen Atlanta knows Murai has an unmistakable eye for visuals.
- He’s able to adapt to the style of whatever project he’s working on, while still adding enough flair to make everything he does undeniably his.
- He’s never directed a feature film before.
- He’s currently working on a mysterious project with Donald Glover and Rihanna, which is most likely a music video but a mystery could be anything. Filming a movie might take him out of the running.
- There are no cons. Disney needs to park a garbage truck filled with money at his front door to persuade his ass to sign immediately because he’s seconds away from being the biggest director on the planet.