Disney ditches ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director over old tweets
James Gunn fired from series that has earned company more than a US$1.5 billion from global box office
James Gunn was fired on Friday as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 because of old tweets that recently emerged where he joked about subjects like paedophilia and rape.
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn announced Gunn’s removal.
“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” Horn said in a statement.
In one of the tweets, Gunn wrote: “The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!’”
He has been vocal in his criticism of Donald Trump, tweeting last year that the US is in “a national crisis with an incompetent president”.
Gunn has been writer and director of the Guardians of the Galaxy series from the start, taking an obscure Marvel Comics title about a group of multicoloured misfits and turning it into a space opera decked with comedy and retro music that made Chris Pratt a major movie star. Through two instalments the has brought in more than US$1.5 billion in global box office.
Gunn apologised for the old tweets on Friday after his firing, echoing similar sentiments he expressed on Twitter a day earlier.
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since – not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time,” Gunn said in a statement. “Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then.”
4. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
Gunn’s current Twitter account is heavy on left-leaning politics, and some on the right with whom he had sparred found and promoted the tweets from 2008 to 2011 that led to his firing.
Disney did not announce a replacement director for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn had been writing the script and it is not clear how far along he was or whether new writers will be brought in. Marvel Studios has not announced a release date, though Gunn had said 2020 was the target.
Marvel has staked a lot on the third Guardians film. Gunn has said the film would end the current iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy and launch another decade, or more, of Marvel films.
In addition to Pratt, the Guardians series stars Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista, and features the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.
The characters were also an essential part of this year’s Disney and Marvel megahit Avengers: Infinity War.
Gunn was defended by some Twitter users, who complained that Disney’s punishment was too harsh.
And forget the most obvious one, Trump, if you scrutinize everyone's past you can find all kinds of crap. What @JamesGunn did is what @HowardStern makes a living of doing everyday for almost 40 years. Or every rapper. Or George Carlin and many comedians. List goes on...
— Andy Kleinman (@andykleinman) July 21, 2018
It is astounding to me that we the people can't get rid of Trump, Nazis on Twitter, InfoWars on Facebook, etc. but Mike Cernovich can get James Gunn fired from a major franchise in less than 24 hours
— Jennifer C. Martin (@notreallyjcm) July 20, 2018
Fans at Comic-Con in San Diego said they disapproved of Gunn’s tweets, but were mixed on how they felt about his firing.
“It’s unfortunate to hear and makes me question whether I would see a movie like that even without his creative involvement,” Mario Panighetti of Mountain View, California said.
Joanne Renda of Toronto said, “It’s never really funny to joke about that stuff, but copping to it is the first step. Everyone deserves a second chance. It’s kind of crazy our culture today, firing people right away.”
Additional reporting by The Guardian