James Gunn will no longer direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, according to a statement from a Disney spokesperson. The director’s dismissal comes after his old tweets joking about pedophilia and rape were recirculated by Trump supporters online. “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. Gunn had been at work on the third Guardians of the Galaxy installment, set for release in fall 2020.
Gunn has been critical of Donald Trump, and caught the ire of right-wing bloggers after his anti-Trump statements. He’s since deleted his personal website, and the old tweets. “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,” he posted before his firing. “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.”
Update: James Gunn has issued a formal statement on the controversial tweets that resulted in his firing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time,” he said, according to Deadline. “Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then.”
Correction: A previous version of this post stated that James Gunn deleted his Twitter account. It is still active.