James Gunn, writer-director of the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films, is no longer associated with Marvel Studios and Disney. Several far-right personalities on Twitter pointed out old tweets from before his time with Marvel Studios that joked about rape and pedophelia.
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn released a statement:
“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.”
Gunn, who was set to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, issued an apology and explanation on his now-deleted Twitter account before his firing.
Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.
It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.
In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies.
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.
Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.
Gunn is known for engaging with his fans on Twitter regularly about their thoughts on Guardians, the MCU, and Hollywood in general. Gunn is also a noted critic of the Donald Trump administration, frequently criticized by conservative users on Twitter who’d rather have Hollywood figures stay silent over politics.
These tweets are numerous and frankly, pretty disgusting (here are some articles from conservative media that have compiled them)—one would have thought that Disney knew what they were getting into when hiring him in the first place, as anyone with a sliver of knowledge of Gunn’s background with Z-movies and Troma Entertainment would probably see those tweets as on-brand for the filmmaker earlier in his life. If Disney were going to punish Gunn for these tweets, they probably shouldn’t have given the job for the first film to him in the first place.
While I do believe that this type of behavior has no place not only in a family company like Disney, but in our popular culture that has shifted in the post-Weinstein era, I do believe Gunn when he says that he is a different person—any MCU fan who has been following him for the past several years since he became a more prominent public figure can see that. The status of the film is unknown, as Gunn was already at work on the screenplay—even if the director weren’t fired, it would be hard to imagine that the culture and environment surrounding the production wouldn’t be tarnished in any way. A couple things are for certain: these movies will not feel the same without him, and conspiracy theory-peddling right wingers got their revenge for Hollywood taking down Roseanne.