Disney fired director James Gunn from the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the company confirmed at Comic-Con this week. The move came after highly offensive joke tweets dating from between 2008 and 2011 resurfaced. The tweets, which have since been deleted, make light of topics ranging from molestation and rape to pedophilia.
“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 provided to TechCrunch.
Gunn, for his part, acknowledged the distasteful statements. The director, who helmed the first two installments of the Marvel franchise, tweeted a multi-part apology/explanation for the old tweets, in which he refers to himself as a “provocateur” during his early career.
“I used to make a lot of offensive jokes,” Gunn wrote. “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.”
Prior to helming blockbuster superhero films, Gunn made a name directing films for Troma, the comedically offensive, aggressively B-movie studio behind films like The Toxic Avenger. The tweets resurfaced after being promoted by right-wing personalities like Jack Posobiec and Mike Cernovich.
Gunn has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration and took to Twitter to weigh in on actor/director Mark Duplass’ recent tweets about conservative pundit Ben Shapiro.
Update: Gunn has issued a statement that reflects and expands on his earlier Twitter apology,
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.”
“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. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.