JAMES GUNN GETTING SACKED
Was Disney right to fire the Guardians director over old tweets?
Last month James Gunn, who had been in pre-production on Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol. 3, was abruptly fired by Disney. The decision came after offensive tweets posted a decade earlier were recirculated by members of the American alt-right calling for him to be dismissed. On 20 July, they got their wish.
“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed,” wrote Disney chairman Alan Horn, “are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values.” And certainly the tweets were tasteless. What’s notable, however, is that Gunn himself had previously apologised for other, similar jokes made elsewhere.
Disney’s decision was no doubt damage control, but it probably didn’t expect such an intense backlash, not least from the Guardians themselves. “James is one of the most loving,
caring, good-natured people I have ever met,” tweeted Dave Bautista. “He’s made mistakes. We all have. I’m NOT OK with what’s happening to him.” These sentiments were backed up a few days later with an open letter signed by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and other members of the Guardians family (#WeAreGroot).
The timing of the controversy is also of note, coming after Gunn publicly criticised prominent Republicans, including Donald Trump. Similarly, following the recent firing of Roseanne Barr for racist language, some suggest the campaign to have him sacked was a retaliatory attack against a liberal celebrity. That it was politically motivated seems beyond doubt.
Whether Disney reverses its decision remains to be seen, though as we go to press it still stands. This will pose big challenges for the MCU, given Gunn’s creative influence was a massive factor in making the Guardians films so unique.
However, perhaps a more important question is whether Gunn should have been fired at all. His pre-Marvel filmography included schlocky Troma titles and subversive hero flick Super, so Disney would have known of his proclivity for shock humour when hiring him. Furthermore, as Gunn had already gone on record regretting his ill-judged jokes and reflecting how he has since grown as a person, firing him now feels ill-judged when grace could have been extended to him without condoning his comments.
‘GUNN HAD ALREADY REFLECTED ON HOW HE’D GROWN AS A PERSON’