[UPDATE: James Gunn has released an official statement in response to his firing.]
Disney and Marvel Studios have officially cut ties with Guardians of the Galaxy film series writer and director James Gunn. The decision was made shortly after older tweets from the filmmaker's now-deleted Twitter account (where he jokes about sensitive topics like pedophilia and rape) were brought to light in an article published by right-wing political news site The Daily Caller. Conservative commentators like Jack Posobiec, who works for the conservative cable television channel One America News Network, then joined the call for Gunn to be fired. Gunn's frequent criticisms of president Donald Trump are believed to be the main reason why he was targeted by right-wing outlets to begin with.
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn has confirmed the decision to sever ties with Gunn in an official statement. Gunn posted his own statement over several tweets on his Twitter account prior to deleting his account, writing "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." He went on to emphasize that his days of sayings things purely for the sake of shock value "are over", adding "In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies".
Among other things, this means Gunn will not be writing and directing the currently-developing Guardians of the Galaxy 3, after having called the shots on the previous two movies in these series. Here is the statement from Horn, concerning the decision to fire Gunn from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise (via THR):
"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."
Prior to his time making films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Gunn was known for directing idiosyncratic genre films that blend dark humor with otherwise twisted content, including the sci-f/horror movie Slither and comic book-inspired costumed hero satire Super. As the filmmaker noted in his statement on Twitter, he was similarly known for pushing the boundaries of poor taste with his earlier directorial efforts in general (less so his writing on studio projects like the live-action Scooby-Doo movies). However, since he joined the MCU and began making the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Gunn has been praised for becoming noticeably more family-friendly in his comedy and otherwise mature in his storytelling sensibilities.
Disney is already being criticized for handling the situation with Gunn far differently from how its subsidiary the Disney-ABC Television Group dealt with Roseanne Barr: the ex-star of their sitcom Roseanne, who wasn't fired from the series until well after her own history of making offensive jokes and racist comments on social media had been brought to light. Others are either taking issue with how the Mouse House has handled the situation on its own terms or simply trying to process the reality that the cosmic side of the MCU has now permanently lost one of its key architects. Gunn, as it were, is present in San Diego for the International Comic-Con, but will no longer be making a special appearance during Sony's Hall H panel, as originally planned.
We will bring you more details on the situation with James Gunn and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise as they become available.
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