Walt Disney has announced that it has severed ties with James Gunn, removing him from production of the third Guardians of the Galaxy film, in the wake of multiple old tweets from the director joking about rape and pedophilia.
Concern over Gunn’s incendiary online comments prior to his rise to genre superstardom as the director and architect behind Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has risen before. But the latest resurfacing of Gunn’s Twitter history—circulated by conservative activists as a response to Gunn’s political commentary over the administration of Donald Trump—has lead to an official response from Walt Disney Studios, culminating in the immediate termination of the studio’s partnership with Gunn.
Here’s the official statement from Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn as printed by The Hollywood Reporter:
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.
Gunn—who was expected to appear at Sony’s Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con today—also offered a response on Twitter last night, prior to the announcement of his firing:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was expected to begin filming later this year in Atlanta, ahead of an expected 2020 release date, but now a search for a replacement for Gunn is underway. We’ll bring you more on this story as we learn it.
Update: ABC has also posted the following statement from Gunn.
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.