Disney re-hired director James Gunn, eight months after firing him for his old tweets

Premiere Of Disney And Marvel's "Ant-Man And The Wasp"

Last summer, people wouldn’t shut up about the James Gunn situation. Remember that? James Gunn, at that time, was known for writing and directing the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and making them a quality, stand-alone Marvel franchise. Then some alt-right douchebags went through Gunn’s Twitter and pulled out a treasury of years-old tweets. The tweets were awful, disgusting and offensive. I argued at the time that while I hate the alt-right d-bags in total and I thought their “campaign” was contrived, I also thought that Gunn sounded like an utter creep and pervert. Disney agreed with me and they fired Gunn as soon as the alt-right’s campaign took hold. The cast of Guardians formally protested Gunn’s firing, and it was said that Marvel was mad about it too, that they thought Disney was being too high-handed about all of it.

The Marvel fans were in revolt because Gunn’s career had been “destroyed” by Disney’s firing. Gunn literally set up new work (for Warner Bros/DC) within, like, a month though. And Marvel always maintained that they were totally going to use the script Gunn wrote for Guardians 3 anyway, so I’m still f–king searching for how this white man’s career was “destroyed” by “scandal.” As it turns out, Disney is taking a mulligan on the whole thing. They’ve hired Gunn to come back. From Deadline:

Redemption and second chances have long been superhero movie staples, and today it looks like life has imitated art. I’ve learned that Disney has reinstated James Gunn as the writer-director of Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and I’ve confirmed it with Marvel and Gunn’s camp. The decision to rehire Gunn –he was fired last July by Disney after alt-right journalists made public a fusillade of decade old social media missives that made light of pedophilia and rape — was one that was mulled and actually made months ago, following conversations with Disney studio leadership and the team at Marvel Studios. Why the change of heart? After the firing, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn met with Gunn on multiple occasions to discuss the situation. Persuaded by Gunn’s public apology and his handling of the situation after, Horn decided to reverse course and reinstate Gunn.

The social media messages were indefensible, but the filmmaker never did anything but blame himself for poor judgment displayed at a time when he was emerging from the Troma film factory and attempting to be a provocateur. There were no reports that Gunn ever engaged in the behavior he lampooned. Unlike the defensive posture exhibited by Kevin Hart that led him to skip hosting the Oscars, Gunn fell on his sword early and often and never lashed out at Disney.

Ultimately, Gunn’s missives were poorly chosen words and not actions, though Disney’s quick trigger was completely understandable when the social media messages were first reported by outlets like Fox News. Those outlets reported that Gunn’s missives were exposed as payback for Gunn being a vocal critic of President Donald Trump.

Gunn’s return to Guardians of the Galaxy 3 got complicated when he signed on to write and direct the Suicide Squad sequel for Warner Bros and DC. Marvel Studios has agreed to commence production on Guardians of the Galaxy 3 after Gunn completes Suicide Squad 2. Making the whole thing easier though was the fact that Marvel Studios never met with or considered any other director for Guardians of the Galaxy 3, despite speculation that Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi and Vice helmer Adam McKay were in the mix.

[From Deadline]

The one thing I’ll agree with is that Gunn’s tweets weren’t, say, the repeated sexual harassment and assault of multiple women over the course of decades like John Lasseter, who worked for Disney for years and years and was only let go (gently) last December after Disney knew about his systemic sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior for months if not years. James Gunn made disgusting jokes/statements on social media, but reportedly, everyone at Marvel really liked the guy and he treated casts and crews very well. So I don’t know… I never thought his firing was some big deal anyway, because (as I said) it was clear that his career was in no way “destroyed.”

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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53 Responses to “Disney re-hired director James Gunn, eight months after firing him for his old tweets”

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  1. Lightpurple says:

    The Ben Shapiros and Charlie Kirks of the extremist right wanted his career destroyed.

    Based on comments from his brother Sean when all that happened, I always thought there was a lot more to James’s story, not that he had acted on any of what he had tweeted but more like he himself had been a victim as a child and that those around him were aware of it.

    • jammypants says:

      I thought that too. In a weird way, maybe it was his way of coping. I never knew until his brother Sean wrote his letter to the public. When you were abused as a child, it haunts you well into adulthood and until you die. It’s even worse if the harm was done by a loved one. My sister is mid 30s and still gets crippled from her emotional and mental trauma.

      I did appreciate that Gunn in no way tried to victimize himself and owned up to everything about his attitude and behavior in the past. He didn’t deny anything.

      This is worth a read https://medium.com/@joninarebekka/the-truth-about-james-gunn-and-the-pedophile-in-his-childhood-f7ba23855a82

    • S says:

      Not to stick up for the pos that is Shapiro, but he was very vocal about *not* wanting Gunn to be fired – he went against a lot of the more conservative twitterati in that opinion and got a lot of backlash for that. We have to be correct about these kind of things otherwise the alt-righters and ultraconservatives will use it as ammunition against us buy saying we don’t deal in facts and are not informed.

      • Emilia says:

        Exactly. I think it was more Cernovich (arguably an even worse POS than Shapiro) who was really pushing the “Fire Gunn” campaign.

  2. Chef Grace says:

    I don’t know. I always felt that he would be rehired after awhile.
    His tweets were horrible. So how come he gets a pass? Magical white male syndrome?
    His talent earns him a slap on his wrist and a warning from Uncle Mickey Mouse to keep on the one way street for the chosen few.
    Meh. Yes I know it could be worse. But I am not believing that. Guess I’m just out of sorts this morning.

    • Wow says:

      He tweeted a pedophile “joke” to a now convicted pedophile.

      Kevin heart was burned to the ground and fired for far less.

      We’re talking about hundreds of references to pedophilia, socializing with pedophiles, going to pedophile themed parties and writing lengthy blog posts about laughing when a child was masturbated on by a monkey. There literally no reason why he’s getting a pass. This is some of the worst stuff I’ve ever seen, yet he got nothing supported.

      • MrsBanjo says:

        And people act like he was young and dumb and they’re bending over backwards to shrug it off because the alt-right brought it up. Dude was 40. He was old enough to know better. But rich white dude of course gets a pass.

      • Cindy says:

        Kevin Hart wasn’t fired. He resigned voluntarily, and then blamed everyone for it but himself.

      • jammypants says:

        I’m not defending him but those aren’t full context or facts. For one, there were actually just 20 tweets on said jokes. The thousands mentioned were unrelated tweets he deleted that were conflated with said jokes by right wing media.

        The pedophilia themed parties were making fun of pedos.

        They were all in poor taste definitely, but after learning the context I kind of see how things got very twisted.

      • Purplehazeforever says:

        Kevin Hart wasn’t fired, he resigned. Kevin also basically refused to apologize for his tweets where James Gunn did.

      • ElleKaye says:

        How anyone can make excuses for what he wrote about the abuse of young boys is absolutely sickening. Do we really want to normalize the abuse of children? He jokes about the castration of a boy. He jokes about masturbating to a young Justin Bieber. He Jokes about a movie where the ending changes and a tree sexually abuses a young boy. A Hardy boys Book where a child is sodomized by his uncle. He applauded videos of R. Kelly, especially the one where he urinates on a child.

        This is Disney. His behavior is NOT Disney (well, clearly it is) and he never apologized for his tweets regarding children, only his tweets regarding the LGBTQ community when he was called out years ago. He left them up, and then made excuses for them. There is no excuse. I am through with Disney. The only way to let companies know it is unacceptable is with your wallet.

      • Purplehazeforever says:

        @ ellekaye you must have missed his tweets in July of 2018 where he did express regrets for his tweets.

      • Wow says:

        @@purplehaze

        I don’t care if he apologized. Defend pedophilia normalization all you want or blame it on the right wing. If thats the hill you want to die on so being. I stand by survivors FIRST and not a man who socialized with one of their abusers and made light of pain.

        Unacceptable, unforgivable the end. People blaming the right wing for his actions is insane. He was 40 years old when he did this. He wasn’t young and dumb. Stop being complicit, I’m sick of watching people I respected defend this.

    • ElleKaye says:

      @purplehaze,

      Please show me where he apologized for the tweets he made about his pedophilia and rape comments. Where he says he is sorry for those tweets and takes responsibility. Not the apology concerning his blog and the heat he received from GLAAD which forced him to apologize. I could be wrong, but I have seen nothing. Just what I have referenced in another post.

    • SK says:

      Someone posted a medium article above that explains a lot of it. Gunn’s father was apparently “tough” ie: abusive. His Monsignor at Catholic school was a pedophile or gave alcohol and porn to the boys and was caught having sex with one of them which was then covered up by the church. Possibly he was abused himself but he was certainly friends with some who were. He’s talked about Guardians of the Galaxy being about a bunch of abused children coming together to form their own family and working through their damage to become better people. The inference is that these “jokes” (20 tweets) and the R rated movies he used to do were in part him working through his own damage. Rocket in the second movie is him. This is consistent with what some people do to work through trauma – make black / off-colour jokes about it. He had apologised extensively (and did so before Disney ever hired him). There are no accusations of him being a pedophile. Rather he used awful black humour to work through his own damage. People should be allowed to grow and be better. He is a big support to those who’ve been abused. There have never been any complaints against him for behaviour. He has come out hard against abusers. The guy who “exposed” him, meanwhile, is an actual rapist who thinks rape is fine and went after him because Gunn hates Trump and is vocal about that.

      • ElleKaye says:

        He could have explained that he wrote this garbage to work through his pain; instead, he normalized it.

        And, I would like to address this, “but, it was 20 tweets.” Isn’t one enough when it comes to talking about sexually abusing a child in graphic detail? Do we really need twenty more to get the point across? Or @ss raping a woman? I didn’t count them, but after reading a handful I was sick to my stomach.

  3. Kittycat says:

    Basically Disney fired him in light of the tweets then waited until the controversy died down in order to rehire him.

  4. Lawcatb says:

    I didn’t really think he should have been fired in the first place. Disney was overreacting based on the whole Roseanne debacle. The only thing Disney accomplished in all of this was making themselves look bad. And the Deadline article was so clearly written by Disney’s PR it’s almost comical.

  5. Its Ok says:

    I think it was a big deal, but not because of Gunn’s career. Validating right wing nut jobs is dangerous. They use little proofs like this to sell people on their crazy theories. Just think of the Simpson where Trump was president. There is a clip that was made after the fact of Trump on an elevator. It’s not in the episode, but how many people do you think checked? People assume it must be true because they know their was an episode with Trump as president. Some of those people were fairly normal and brainwashed into believing this shit. I know some. It doesn’t just happen overnight. That’s why YouTube cracked down on conspiracy videos. The nonsense is spreading because of shit like this. Gunn made some inappropriate tweets a decade ago. Firing him just validated the whole Illuminati pedophile ring conspiracy and they hired him back anyway! It should have been called out for what it was and pointed out that the person who made the allegations is literal scum. End of story.

  6. HelloSunshine says:

    He shouldn’t have been fired in the first place. He made some gross, bad jokes long before Disney hired him and it wasn’t a secret that the jokes had existed at some point. Disney looks worse in all of this than James Gunn does. They hired someone without apparently fully researching him, fired him over some stupid online campaign, had actors threatening to break contract and walk, and then walked back on the firing. Not a good look

  7. Dttimes2 says:

    I think basically the cast refused to do the 3rd movie unless he directed?

  8. Elizabeth Rose says:

    Glad I was never a fan of his work in the first place. Words mean something and time doesn’t make that disappear in my humble opinion. Therefore I will not now or ever support anything that he’s attached to. Sorry not sorry.

  9. Miss M says:

    It was just a matter of time. I wonder if the announcement of Gunn working for DC was an inside leak, so he could get rehired.
    I don’t recall Disney backtracking on their decisions ever. I wonder id they found more info that made them rethink all of it.

    • Mina says:

      They do backtrack when they realize they’ll be losing more than winning. Remember in 2017 when they put a ban on the LA Times watching their movies in press screening because of some unflattering article they’d published about Disneyland? After all the backlash they had to change their mind and they made it sound it was because there was new leadership in the LA Times.

  10. Nuzzy says:

    Last week: Captain Marvel! Strong message! So empowering! Wow! Disney might be changing from its faux feminist shell to something more… (crap spewing cretin rehired)… oh. Nevermind.

  11. Mina says:

    His career was never destroyed, but his biggest creation was taken away from him, since he is the brain of Guardians of the Galaxy and clearly it was not going to work without him, hence why Disney backed down. I think his tweets were disgusting but they were also a decade old and from way before Disney every hired him, so it was unfair to fire him because of them, especially since he seems to have evolved and grown up from that time. I think people should be allowed to redeem themselves for some reproachable behavior (like stupid tweets) and I am glad he is back on the franchise.

    • LivePlantsCleanAir says:

      Thanks Mina, I’m w/you on this one

    • Anna says:

      Agreed. Obviously he should never have made the jokes, but he handled his apology appropriately (unlike, say, Kevin Hart). He didn’t blame anyone but himself and acknowledged he was in the wrong. I’m glad to hear he’s back because it’s dangerous to empower these right-wing extremists more than they already are (thanks to Trump).

      • ElleKaye says:

        This apology? The one that doesn’t blame himself?

        “In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies.” (He apologized to the LGBTQ community, but not for his rape or pedophilia comments)

        “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,” he wrote.
        (He joked about raping his friend while she slept, going big-game raping, remembering his first NAMBLA meeting, and the tweets go on and on.)

        “My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over,” he added. “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.”

        I’m so glad he doesn’t blame himself for making light of rape and abuse of children. Now we know the mindset of these creeps. How can anyone support them? Rape isn’t funny. It just isn’t. Pedophilia is NOT funny. What if he was saying those things about your child or family member?

  12. Purplehazeforever says:

    James Gunn should never have been fired in the first place. Disney knew about the tweets when they hired him. They knew about who he was. The work he did. They had far worse working for them in house & they were worried about optics on old tweets taken out of context & distorted by alt-right? Please, John Lasseter was harassing women for years, Disney knew about it & does nothing. Yet, they fired Gunn when the alt-right launched their campaign against him. And people commenting on here didn’t bother to look further into it. The jokes were in poor taste. Should it mean he doesn’t ever work again? That his script get produced by someone else? That he’s not allowed to work ever? Based on offensive tweets? Without action? Really?

    • ElleKaye says:

      @Purplehaze,

      I am well aware of the disgusting background of the man who made Gunn’s tweets public. He is vile and disgusting and a rapist. It does not, however, negate what Gunn himself said about raping women and his comments about sexually abusing children. And, why did he not take those tweets down?? Good grief!!

      Your political affiliation should have no bearing. Roy Moore is a perfect example. He still had Republican support, even though it was revealed he had relationships with underage girls. WTH?

  13. als says:

    Aside from the Gunn situation, very few people that abuse power in any kind of way are kicked out in shame. Because the system protects itself, the system of power.
    It has to be someyhing really scandalous and public for a person in power to be directly pushed out. And even then…
    The mighty protect the mighty.

  14. Um says:

    I don’t really get how him being a white man is relevant. Do POC and women get disproportionately fired for tweets about pedophiles?

  15. Marty says:

    I don’t care that he got fired, then rehired. I agree that Disney could have done their due diligence and looked through his feed BEFORE they hired him, but is it really that surprising when a company like Disney picks and chooses at random who gets a pass and who doesn’t? On the other hand, don’t write pedophile jokes on your public twitter.

  16. Case says:

    I’m glad he was rehired. While I certainly make no excuses for the things he said, he seemed genuinely remorseful, never publicly complained about being fired, and was respectful of Disney’s choice. I love Guardians and think he does truly fantastic work on them — it wouldn’t have worked without him, and I would’ve hated to see that story die an early death. It seemed the cast felt the same way.

  17. julia92 says:

    We can never grow as a society if we don’t accept true apologies like he did. If not we are doomed and people will never change or even admit their wrongs. I don’t like how this website is so quick at cancelling everyone.

  18. Meg says:

    Rereading those old tweets of his-they are awful.

  19. Wood Dragon says:

    Bring him back, don’t bring him back- Taika Waititi would have been a good replacement.

  20. Margo Smith says:

    Holy crap. If he was a woman or a person of colour, we would have never heard of him again. Must be nice and easy being a white guy. Oh to dream.

  21. sassafras says:

    Of all the white men Disney should be canceling, this one was like #55 on the list. I’m mad that Disney didn’t fire #1-#54 first and that they let themselves be manipulated by the alt-right squad.

  22. Gurl Whatever says:

    As someone who knew him before he became a director, keep in mind that Gunn attended the St. Louis, Mo version of Covington Catholic.

    Gunn attended the all-boy, very preppy, very conservative St. Louis University High, SLUH, with his brothers.

    These private Catholic high schools in the Midwest truly brainwash young students with their homosexuality is a sin, abortion is evil, and money is everything.

    So I cut him a bit of slack for breaking free from that controlling indoctrination.

    FWIW, SLUH loves him—despite his present liberal leanings—BOC he is a wealthy and successful director and I’m sure they beg him as his brothers to donate!

  23. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    He should have been fired after that cr@pfest, Guardians of the Galaxy Vo. II. I loved the first movie, but the second one was a boring, unfunny, cgi mess and a waste of 2 hours and $15. They needed to bring in someone new. Now, I have no interest in watching a third GotG.