The shocking news that Disney has reversed course and will have James Gunn direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 after all was a great sign that the industry leader in superhero and fantasy films is learning a valuable lesson: don't listen to trolls.
Last July, alt-right provocateur and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich started a campaign to get Gunn, a vocal critic of Donald Trump, fired from Disney by dredging up offensive jokes about rape and pedophilia that Gunn had made years ago on Twitter. Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn subsequently fired Gunn from the film, explaining, "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."
The jokes were all publicly known well before Gunn was ever hired by Disney in the first place. As such, Disney must have known about them when Gunn was hired. In fact, Gunn had even apologized for making offensive jokes back in 2012! Therefore, it was clearly not his past jokes that Disney was firing Gunn for, but rather the negative publicity that was being attached to the jokes in 2018 from internet trolls like Cernovich.
Last year, Gunn apologized for his past jokes, noting:
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. 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.
And that's really the long and short of it. Gunn has been apologizing for his past actions for years, his past actions were known before he got the first Guardians of the Galaxy film and he no longer makes the jokes that he made in the past. Those are all of the reasons why the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy stood by their director and asked Disney to bring him back for the third film. Dave Bautista, who plays Drax in the films, went even further, noting, "The thing I know the most, is that they were jokes, and this harsh, rash decision to fire him empowered some horrible, horrible people."
This isn't the case of a guy who refuses to apologize for his past actions, like Kevin Hart, or a person who continues to make the same offensive comments that they made in the past, like Roseanne Barr; this is merely a case of trolls trying to get a guy fired through the use of social media. Disney believed that they had to be afraid of those trolls. It is becoming pretty clear that they actually do not have to be afraid of them.