Writer/director James Gunn has been fired from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 after offensive, years-old comments he made about pedophilia and rape were unearthed by right-wing detractors.
"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," Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter.
Gunn's comments were uncovered by supporters of President Trump, who took aim Thursday at the outspoken liberal filmmaker. Their cause was quickly picked up by alt-right provocateur and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, who viewed them as confirmation of belief that there is a “pedo network operating in Hollywood.”
“Disney is for an interesting day, as is San Diego Comicon, where James Gunn is scheduled to speak this afternoon," Cernovich wrote in an early-morning tweet. Gunn was scheduled to appear this evening at Comic-Con International in San Diego at Sony Pictures' Hall H presentation.
Gunn apologized for the comments in a series of tweets posted Thursday night, 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. 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."
“For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out," he continued. "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."
Gunn drew similar criticism in 2012, shortly after he was confirmed to direct Guardians of the Galaxy, over 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 the filmmaker for the comments, which ranged from merely juvenile and fully offensive. The director swiftly apologized for those remarks, characterizing them as “poorly worded and offensive to many.”
Gunn had recently completed a draft of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which had been expected to begin filming in January in Atlanta, in time for a 2020 release. Marvel Studios had yet to officially announce a release date, and it's unknown how Gunn's firing will affect plans for the sequel.