Back in July, Hollywood was shaken by Disney's unexpected decision to fire director James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and now Disney CEO Bob Iger has finally addressed the controversy, insisting that the decision was "unanimous" and that he still supports it.
Gunn was one of Marvel's most beloved directors, the creative writer and director who transformed the Guardians of the Galaxy from a little-known comic book group into a blockbuster hit. In July, though, Gunn's outspoken political opposition to President Donald Trump led to his becoming the target of a social media campaign. Gunn's political opponents trawled through his social media history, and discovered a number of ill-judged and offensive jokes that he posted long before working for Disney. These went viral at the worst possible time for Disney, shared just as San Diego Comic-Con was kicking off. Gunn was swiftly fired, a decision that shocked Marvel fans.
The firing has proved to be highly controversial, with many actors and directors speaking out in support of Gunn. Until now, Disney CEO Bob Iger has remained silent on the issue, but in an interview with THR he finally addressed it. THR asked Iger how involved he was in this kind of decision, and he gave a simple response:
"I would say there is a blend of my helping to make the decision to my supporting the decisions that have been made. Roseanne was completely unanimous. We discussed how it would be communicated and when because there were a number of entities that had to be properly filled in, but the decision was completely unanimous. The James Gunn decision was brought to me as a unanimous decision of a variety of executives at the studio and I supported it... I haven't second-guessed their decision."
It's a careful and considered response, one that avoids assigning responsibility - or, in the eyes of Gunn's supporters, blame - for the decision to fire Marvel's writer and director. That said, notice that Iger claims this decision was brought to him "as a unanimous decision of a variety of executives at the studio." This comment clearly suggests the initial decision was made by figures at Marvel. It's been reported that Marvel boss Kevin Feige was out of town when the scandal broke, so he possibly wasn't one of the key decision-makers here. Even if that is the case, though, in August there were reports that Feige supported Gunn's firing.
It's interesting that THR links the firing of Roseanne with Gunn's departure from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. In reality, those two cases were very different: Roseanne was fired after statements she made while working for Disney. In contrast, Gunn's offensive jokes were made well before joining Marvel Studios, and those posts stopped as soon as he was hired by Marvel. There have been some reports that Disney didn't know about the tweets before hiring Gunn, but if so that really does call into question just what due diligence process Disney employed when they were considering him for the first Guardians of the Galaxy.
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