James Gunn, the sardonic and openly vulgar writer/director behind both successful Guardians of the Galaxy films, has been removed from any future Marvel Studios projects, Disney confirmed on Friday.
The House of Mouse went one further and confirmed why they severed ties with Gunn: Twitter posts dating back as far as 2009.
“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,” Disney chairman Alan Horn said in a statement on Friday.
This news followed a provocative archive-dump of Gunn’s Twitter and personal-blog history this week by Pizzagate theorist and alt-right writer Mike Cernovich, who highlighted a number of posts from Gunn’s account that made frank statements about sex and children. This timing appears to follow Gunn’s increasing anti-Trump rhetoric and use of the #IMPEACHTRUMPNOW hashtag on Twitter.
On their face, some of the Twitter posts sound like the wild-and-weird writing work that Gunn has done for films like Tromeo and Juliet and video games like Lollipop Chainsaw. One ludicrous, sexual example saw Gunn join a #sadchildrensbook hashtag thread in 2010 with the following: “The Hardy Boys and the Mystery of What It Feels Like When Uncle Bernie Fists Me.” Another example saw Gunn write about a movie-studio anecdote when a trained monkey randomly, and quickly, masturbated onto a child actor, to which he added, “I know it might be sick, but that story makes me really happy.”
Some of the referenced posts, which Gunn has since deleted, include the site’s original “retweeting” convention that required plain-text posting of other people’s content, instead of using metadata to show someone else’s content specifically shared by a particular account. Thus, one “offending” post sees Gunn faking like he’s retweeting a peer with a scandalous phrase, which Cernovich translates as Gunn endorsing such a position.
Cernovich’s history of cherry-picking content to fit his narrative—particularly his conspiracy theories about a Western, liberal agenda to legitimize pedophilia—is thus boosted by picking out Gunn’s Twitter posts from the site’s earlier, less-evolved incarnation, which doesn’t include context-framing tweaks like “threading.”
Of course, even with context in mind, much of the content is clearly beyond a PG-13 standard. Thus, the firing now puts heat and scrutiny on Disney and Marvel Studios’ vouching process—as if the production houses hadn’t pored through Gunn’s controversial, pre-Marvel projects, let alone his social media accounts.
Before he was fired, Gunn acknowledged the return of his older Twitter posts and their ramifications, and he offered apologies:
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.
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.
Listing image by Getty Images / L. Ortega