UPDATE: Disney released a statement this afternoon that it has severed ties with James Gunn, who will no longer direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn apologized last night after "shocking," years-old jokes he made about such topics as rape and pedophilia resurfaced online.
The comments, excavated from the filmmaker's now-deactivated website, were shared on Twitter by supporters of President Trump, and broadcast to a wider audience by alt-right provocateur and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, who used them to bolster his claims of a "pedo network operating in Hollywood." ("It’s still 3 am in California," he wrote this morning. "Disney is for an interesting day, as is San Diego Comicon, where James Gunn is scheduled to speak this afternoon.")
Gunn, a vocal liberal, regularly uses the social-media platform to criticize the Trump administration and Republican policies.
"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," Gunn explained in a series of tweets. "As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor. 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.
"In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies," he continued. "For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it. Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: 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."
Indeed, Gunn first drew criticism in 2012, shortly after he was confirmed as director of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, for a "superhero sex poll" on his website that was viewed as misogynistic and homophobic. There were calls at the time for the studio to fire Gunn for the comments, which swung between merely juvenile and fully offensive. The director swiftly apologized for those remarks, characterizing them as "poorly worded and offensive to many.”
"People who are familiar with me as evidenced by my Facebook page and other mediums know that I’m an outspoken proponent for the rights of the gay and lesbian community, women and anyone who feels disenfranchised," he wrote at the time, "and it kills me that some other outsider like myself, despite his or her gender or sexuality, might feel hurt or attacked by something I said."
Gunn is in San Diego this week for Comic-Con International, where he's scheduled to make a movie announcement this evening during Sony Pictures' Hall H presentation.