In a shock development James Gunn, director of the Guardians of the Galaxy, who was due to attend the SDCC this weekend, has exited the franchise after several old tweets surfaced. Though Gunn insists the multiple postings were meant to be darkly humorous and dated back to a time years before his successful Marvel movies, many found them deeply offensive – they related to flippant remarks about molestation, rape, the Holocaust and AIDS. One tweet read: ‘The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like, ‘Whew, this feels great not being raped!”. Another, according to Deadline read: ‘I like when little boys touch me in my silly place‘.
Gunn responded to the tweets today with an explanation rather than an apology before his twitter feed was temporarily taken down: 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. 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.
“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 said in a statement.
There have been claims that the director, who has been outspoken over recent Donald Trump activities and behaviour, had the old tweets released by far-right supporters in revenge and several conservative pundits have been suggesting that people confront Gunn during this weekend’s planned visit to the SDCC event (though it is now unlikely Gunn will feature on any panels). However, in an age where there is much discussion about what people tweet and how responsible they should be while doing so – on issues such as accuracy, fair comment, bullying etc. and the legal side needing to catch up, for example, with libel and slander laws – Gunn is just the latest well known name to find that flippant comments now tend to stay in the ether long after being typed. It is worth noting that Gunn had already widely addressed and apologised for the comments back in 2012 so it seems surprising that Disney wouldn’t have been aware or acted sooner if they felt it was an issue and there is a question as to why the subject is being raised once again now.
It is not known if Gunn’s script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3, on which he is has currently been working, will still form the basis of the sequel.