The drama surrounding James Gunn’s abrupt firing from Disney due to a series of lurid tweets the director posted almost a decade ago seems to be never-ending. Cast members, colleagues and fans have been coming to Gunn's defense, claiming his ejection from the director’s chair on the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was a huge mistake on Disney’s part. Supporters of Gunn have gone so far as to launch petitions with the aim of getting the director rehired.
This might have had some effect on whether Gunn's script will be used for the next Guardians film, which became a point of contention over the past couple of weeks. Drax himself, Dave Bautista, has railed against Disney for what he feels was a callous decision that will hurt the franchise more than help it. Hell, even comedian Jerry Seinfeld weighed in on the situation, backing Gunn in a broad sense. This sort of outcry was to be expected. A moment like this, which is so widely publicized, set a new precedent for how fans view creators and their relationships with the massive corporations that give them the tools to bring their creative endeavors to life.
Shortly after Gunn’s firing, Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn issued a statement saying: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values.” Now, before we go spelunking in this pop culture quagmire, it is important to point out that what Disney did was by no means illegal (as far as we know). They are a privately-owned and operated corporation that can hire or fire anyone they like as long as it does not breach any agreed upon clause in a legally-binding contract. So, technically, Disney had every right to fire Gunn. But the reasoning cited for doing so does paint the company into a corner.
You Know They Knew
The aforementioned tweets were not “discovered” as if they were some lost relic buried at sea. They’ve been in the digital ether for years. We even wrote about them, when Gunn first came on board with Disney. Gunn, himself has been confronted about the tweets before and has publicly apologized. And slews of his fans who have been following him on social media for the last decade were well aware of the brand of offensive, shock-value humor he was once known for. The guy used to work for Troma “We Perfected Poor Taste” Entertainment, for crying out loud.
Disney pleading ignorance means they are either not being honest with us, or they do zero research on who they hire… like, at all. The only other explanation is that, maybe, just maybe, Disney knew Gunn wrote the live-action Scooby Doo films and cited his intrinsic understanding of talking CGI mammals in film when they hired him. Perhaps the executives passed on watching Super, Slither and Tromeo and Juliette because the talking Great Dane movies were so good they needn’t dig deeper... but honestly, they had to have known. This is a case of a kid acting surprised while opening presents on Christmas morning when in truth they found them in their parents’ closest weeks before. There was no “discovery” here.