Why Rehiring James Gunn Is Harder For Disney Than Fans Realize [Updated]

[UPDATE: It seems Marvel may yet rehire James Gunn - just not for Guardians 3.]


After James Gunn's sudden and shocking firing from Guardians of the Galaxy 3, fans and celebrities have been showing support, begging Disney to rehire the director, but the House of Mouse doesn't seem likely to budge on its decision, and it shouldn't be much of a surprise.

Years before Gunn was brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, he saw himself as an edgy comedian and provocateur - traits that he not only expressed in his movies, but also in his Twitter feed. Little was off topic for Gunn as he made light of rape, pedophilia, 9/11, the Holocaust, and everything in between.

Related: Why James Gunn Was Fired From Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Gunn has veered away from such controversial content since joining Disney, but after a recent political Twitter spat led to the Tweets being brought to light, Gunn quickly deleted thousands of old posts, but it was too late and screenshots were already wildly circulating. In a quick and decisive action, Disney fired the director. Gunn took full responsibility in a sincere apology. In the fallout, many have been quick to explain the context and how the tweets aren't reflective of his character today, fans started a petition, which currently has over 365,000 signatures, and the Guardians of the Galaxy cast released an open letter urging Disney to rehire Gunn. The support is impressive, and they may be right, but it's a much more complicated situation than that, and it's doubtful Disney will bring Gunn back. If they do, it won't be a quick or easy decision.

Context Matters

The fact that Gun had offensive tweets in his history is no surprise to anyone that has followed his career. Gunn got his start with Lloyd Kaufman and Troma Entertainment, where edgy, shocking, boundary-pushing subject matter was the objective. The tweets that got him fired were intended to be offensive at the time, although that kind of inappropriate humor, while intended to be politically incorrect, would have received more of an eye roll than outrage by many at the time when they were first posted.

That doesn't make them funny. Gunn has sincerely apologized for them, as he should, but any attempt to treat them as more than bad jokes is ill-founded. There have been no claims of any actual wrongdoing against Gunn, and it's important to draw a line between ill-conceived jokes in poor taste and actual acts of pedophilia.

By all accounts, Gunn has actually grown and changed significantly since he originally made the jokes, embracing the more family-friendly nature of his work with Marvel, and the entire cast of his Guardians movies has gone to bat for him.

Related: Is Rocket James Gunn's Secret Guardians of the Galaxy Easter Egg?

To condemn Gunn today for the offensive tweets he made years ago totally ignores all this context, and, while the jokes he made are just as bad today as they were when he made them, he shouldn't still be associated with them today. It was short-sighted of him to not delete them years ago when he moved on from that style of humor, but the fact that the worst things being attributed to him happened a decade ago actually says a lot about how much he's changed in that time.

Unfortunately, this more nuanced understanding of the context is not something Disney can expect from general audiences.

Page 2: The General Audience Doesn't Care About Context

Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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