Comic-Con kicked off on a serious down note last week when Disney fired Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn after members of a far-right group called attention to some questionable jokes the director had made on Twitter nearly a decade ago.
Gunn had publicly apologized for the jokes a full six years ago already, meaning that Disney was well aware of the jokes back then. Even before that and ever since, Gunn has been showing a much more mature face to the public, avoiding jokes of that nature. All of this makes the response last week seem all the more confusing and reactionary. Since then, there’s been a flood of support for the director.
Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista took to Twitter to say that Gunn “is one of the most loving, caring, good-natured people” he has ever met, and that he’s “not okay with what’s happening to [Gunn].”
Actress Selma Blair, who has spoken out a part of the #MeToo movement in the last year, came out in support of Gunn, ask “if people are punished despite changing, then what does that teach people about owning mistakes and evolving? This man is one of the good ones.”
Meanwhile, fans have found their own way to support Gunn, starting a Change.org petition to have him reinstated. At the time of this writing, the petition is closing in on 200,000 signatures.
Bautista’s co-stars Zoe Saldana and Chris Pratt have made more cryptic tweets on the matter. Saldana tweeted that it’s been a “challenging weekend,” and that she wants to “take everything in before [she speaks] out of turn.” Pratt stepped even further back, quoting a bible verse but not relating it directly to the incident.
For his part, Gunn said in a statement that “my word 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’d hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”
Gunn wrote and directed the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films and was in the process of putting together the third. Gunn was also widely considered to be in charge of the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, guiding not only the Guardians, but future characters like Adam Warlock, the Nova Corps, and more. Gunn’s firing puts into question a whole bunch of moving parts in the MCU.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is set for a 2020 release date, but there’s no word right now whether this shake-up will delay the movie at all or whether Disney will look to reconsider its decision.