Seems as if James Gunn just bit the bullet.
According to The Hollywood Reporter: Gunn, who directed the first two odd, quirky and critically acclaimed Guardians of the Galaxy films, has been fired from the conclusion of the trilogy after a series of old tweets made by the director resurfaced.
The tweets, visible here, were brought to light recently and gained significant attention, causing them to be seen by Disney, who later issued the following statement via Disney chairman Alan Horn:
“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.”
While a number of these tweets certainly fall quite far from Disney’s clean business image that it goes so far to maintain, it’s important to note that many of these tweets were made by Gunn nearly a decade ago. According to a series of tweets released by Gunn after the severance, he’s changed a lot over the course of his career, and he considers such “shock value humor” strictly behind him.
A tweet by Gunn: “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.”
An additional followup to that statement: “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.”
Gunn then went on to say, in a series of tweet replies, that he has apologized in the past when his humor has hurt people, and that he views himself now as a changed person.
“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.”
Gunn does have other projects, however: According to Gamespot, he was scheduled to make an appearance to discuss a separate film that he is working on in collaboration with Sony Pictures at San Diego Comic Con, though it has been announced recently that he will be skipping on this appearance. This makes sense, of course, considering not only the emotional impact that such a quick discharge has had on him, but also the likelihood for mob mentality to take effect for parts of the crowd, with audience members yelling insults and accusations at him from their safety in numbers.
Guardians star Dave Bautista has come out on Twitter to defend the disgraced director. Bautista says Gunn is one of the most kind and caring people he knows, and says that everyone makes mistakes. He is sharing his disagreement through a number of Twitter posts.
But as for everything, there are two sides to every story. While this event has certainly been devastating for many fans of the Guardians films as well as Mr. Gunn himself, Disney has a very particular image that the company tries very hard to maintain, and some of the resurfaced tweets did include Gunn making light of topics such as rape and pedophilia. If this controversy were to grow large enough, it could appear in the search results when looking up “Guardians of the Galaxy” on many search engines, which means the old tweets would likely be seen by young children. This would reflect very poorly on Disney, so they took the necessary steps to prevent this. It’s quite certain that those working with Disney also did not want to axe Gunn, but in this unfortunate turn of events, the company saw no other choice.
Guardians 3 is lacking a director at the moment. The film is set to release in 2020, and Gunn’s previously spoken plans about the film indicated that it would go in a very different direction. It’s up in the air whether or not the new helm of the film will choose to keep Gunn’s vision or try their own.
A few of Gunn’s interviews regarding the direction for Guardians 3 contain some light spoilers for Infinity War Part II – Probably things that most hardcore fans expected, but spoilers nonetheless. If you’d rather not be spoiled, don’t go looking up those interviews. And definitely, don’t click this link.