It's now been well over a week since it was announced that James Gunn was being let go from Disney and would not direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. There's probably no director more intimately connected to their material in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than James Gunn is to the Guardians of the Galaxy, so if the third film in the series is happening, just who the hell do you get to take it over?
There's no easy answer to this question, but we're going to ask it and see if we can't come up with a few options that might make sense under the circumstances.
Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi is at the top of many fans' lists of potential replacements and there's good reason for that. He's already had success directing within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so he knows the score and how to work with Marvel Studios. He's got a sense of humor that helped refresh the Thor franchise and would be necessary handling Guardians of the Galaxy. And he's also able to balance that humor with a deep and affecting story, something Guardians Vol 3 will need if it has hope of successfully following up on Vol. 2. With the future of the Thor franchise unclear going into Phase Four of the MCU, Waititi is certainly not a bad choice.
One of the things that makes the Guardians of the Galaxy movies so good is the way James Gunn took this licensed comic book property, infused it with 70s pop music, and somehow was still able to tell a real story about the emotional journey of a group of abused and neglected people that truly meant something. In a similar fashion, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller took a movie about a bunch of interconnected bricks and somehow wrapped it all around a story with a surprisingly emotional core. The LEGO Movie was both a silly and heartfelt balancing act that will likely be necessary here as well. Lord and Miller may not have been the right choice for Lucasfilm, but that doesn't mean they're not the right choice for Marvel Studios.
If you need somebody new to take over the job of directing a movie in a trilogy, it would be nice if you could get somebody who knows the material intimately. That would certainly be the case for Nebula herself, Karen Gillan. The Guardians actress has expressed interest in doing more directing, and this year, she released her first feature-length film, which she also wrote, The Party's Just Beginning. This is certainly a long shot because Gillan would be jumping into an expensive tentpole movie quite quickly, and that would likely make the executives nervous, but she'd almost certainly have the support of her castmates, which would go a long way to making sure Guardians 3 gets done right.
While fans have been asking Disney to rehire James Gunn since pretty much the minute they fired him, the odds of such a thing seemed close to impossible. Today, while the odds are still unlikely, they may be as good as they're going to get, following the publishing of an open letter by the main cast of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, speaking in support of Gunn... which included several of the actors specifically supporting the rehiring of Gunn. While not everybody would support such a decision, there are clearly many that would, and if Disney was considering reversing course, the support of those people Gunn would be directing could be the best possible reason to do so.
In addition, to those choices, there is one final option. They should hire nobody. Instead of letting somebody else come in and try their best to make a Guardians of the Galaxy movie that appeals to fans, Disney could just let this corner of the MCU end and put James Gunn's script on a shelf to collect dust, (and hopefully get leaked on the internet one day so we can read it). While many want to see another Guardians of the Galaxy movie, those fans would likely rather not see one at all than see one that's not the culmination of the story James Gunn began. Let Avengers 4 end this part of the MCU for good.