Disney has rehired James Gunn to direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3, according to Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, despite Gunn’s firing last year over a series of offensive tweets dug up by far-right provocateur Mike Cernovich.
The decision to re-hire Gunn was “mulled and actually made months ago, following conversations with Disney studio leadership and the team at Marvel Studio,” according to Deadline. Gunn, a once avid Twitter user who hasn’t tweeted since being fired, sent out a message to fans thanking them for their continued support.
The full message can be read below.
Chairman Alan Horn issued a statement at the time of the original incident calling “the offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values,” at the time. Although the tweets were from nearly a decade ago, and had drawn criticism from other outlets in the past, Gunn issued a statement following their recirculation. The full statement can be read below:
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.
Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: 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. Love you to you all.
Still, Gunn’s departure was met with criticism by reporters, Hollywood insiders, and even those working within Marvel. Many critics pointed to the involvement of Cernovich — one of the most prominent figures behind promoting Pizzagate — as cause for concern. Gunn’s firing even led to the cast of the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films to sign a letter asking Marvel and Disney to reconsider the firing.
“We fully support James Gunn,” the cast wrote. “We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss. In that time, we’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support from fans and members of the media who wish to see James reinstated as director of Volume 3 as well as discouraged by those so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding him.”
Horn reportedly met with Gunn and Marvel Studios co-president Kevin Feige to talk about possibly coming back in August, but nothing came of the meeting at the time. Since then, Gunn has agreed to helm Suicide Squad 2 for Warner Bros, set to be released next year. He’s one of the few directors who will have a hand in both Marvel and DC projects for two different studios.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is in development, but was pushed back from its original 2020 release date. There is no new release date at this time.