Following the unearthing of a series of old tweets, mostly from 2008 and 2009, in which he made jokes about such subjects as pedophilia and rape, director James Gunn has been fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The bombshell news upends a particular corner of the Marvel universe, where Gunn had crafted one of the most successful and critically acclaimed franchises within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The tweets, which are no longer publicly available since Gunn deleted his account, were unearthed by conservative web pundits and slung in Gunn’s general direction during Comic-Con for maximum exposure, likely due to the fact that Gunn has publicly shown disapproval of President Donald Trump. Disney, always swift to distance itself from anything that isn’t (publicly) family friendly, was quick to act.
“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 Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn in a statement.
Gunn had been writing the script for Guardians 3, which was meant to start shooting in the fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Who Marvel could conceivably replace him with isn’t clear at this time, as Gunn’s own off-kilter sense of humor is a major—probably the defining aspect—of Guardians’ DNA. In effect, this move could kill Guardians 3 right where it stands. Perhaps after his spectacular turn in Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi could step into the hot seat?
Gunn, meanwhile, responded with a series of tweets before deleting the account, apologize for his past statements and insisting that they don’t represent the person he has become in the years since. To quote all of his response statement at once:
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.
There’s clearly more of this story still to come. We’ll provide additional details as they arrive. As it stands, however, this is a major scandal for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, which throws a portion of its future into disarray.