On July 20, 2018, Disney fired James Gunn, director of the Guardians of the Galaxy series for Marvel Studios. This decision was made after crude tweets Gunn had made from 2008-2012 were unearthed by prominent figures in alt-right and far-right media, such as Mike Cernovich and Jake Posbiec.
“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,” said Alan Horn, Walt Disney Studios chairman, in a statement via Deadline.
The topics of Gunn’s tweets included pedophilia, rape, AIDs, and other off-color topics. Click here to see a collection of the tweets (documented by Comicbook.com, marked and collected by those who spread them before Gunn was fired).
The day prior to being fired, Gunn left a series of tweets (link) apologizing for the unearthed offensive tweets, explaining the tweets were jokes meant to shock, and he has since moved on from that form of humor.
3. In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
After being fired, Gunn released a statement (via Variety), once again apologizing for the nature of his tweets, and taking responsibility for his words:
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,” Gunn said. “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.”
“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today,” he said. “Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”
Presumably, Gunn will not direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. As of July 25, a version of the film’s script has been completed by Gunn.
No announcement has been made on a replacement director for Vol. 3, and the film was confirmed to release (via a tweet from Gunn) in 2020.
10 days after the firing of Gunn, the entire main cast of the Guardians of Galaxy films (including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista), released a joint statement. This open letter voices the cast’s full support of Gunn, acknowledges fan effort to reinstate Gunn as director of the Guardians series (which includes a petition with over 300,000 signatures), and asks for hope that “Americans from across the political spectrum an ease up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality.”
It’s not easy trying to cover entrainment news stories in your free time. The past 11 days embodied this. Guardians of the Galaxy, and especially Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, are films I sincerely love and that have positively impacted my life, a sentiment, shown now more than ever, shared by many others. Trying to wrap my head around what has happened and why has been extremely frustrating and heartbreaking; and I’ve been trying to come up with an objective way to wrap up this article.
But I’m not going to.
If like the Guardians, you too want to make a stand against character assassinations and weaponized mob mentality, do so. If you believe artists can change for the better, and should be forgiven, not punished, for long-made mistakes, say so.
As said in the open letter—James Gunn, his characters, his stories, and the heart that beats through them all, isn’t over, not by a long shot. I genuinely believe this because, if nothing else,
We are Groot.