James Gunn was an unlikely choice to helm a major blockbuster when he boarded Guardians of the Galaxy. Gunn came up through the ranks at Troma and wasn’t shy about material that could be deemed offensive or upsetting. But Guardians showed he could still make a movie with his edgy personality yet palatable enough to be a blockbuster hit. Unfortunately, after some conservative personalities dug up some of his old tweets that joked about rape and pedophilia, Gunn has been fired from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
In a statement on Twitter before deleting his account [via THR], Gunn said, “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.” And that’s clear from the Guardians movies, which, for those keeping track, have a joke in the first movie about the inside of Star-Lord’s ship being coated in old semen.
For their part, Disney’s Alan Horn issued the 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.”
It sounds like a raw deal for Gunn, who has now been pushed out by conservative trolls who clearly don’t have a problem with pedophilia (as seen last year with the support of alleged child molester Roy Moore) or sexual assault (as seen with the continued support of Donald Trump, who bragged about sexually assaulting women and then hid behind the defense that it was “locker room talk.”). While Disney has a corporate image to maintain, it’s important to note that rather than let Gunn issue an apology or explain himself for things he said, they’ve simply booted him off the franchise.
Which now leads to what will happen with Guardians of the Galaxy 3 considering that Gunn had finished writing the script and was planning to start filming this fall for a 2020 release. Will the cast stick around? Will the studio scrap the franchise without its lead voice? It seems like Disney has seriously overreacted to appease those who had a political axe to grind with Gunn, and now they’ve lost the director behind a franchise that grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide.
Update: Gunn has issued the following statement on his firing:
“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.”
“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. 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.”