According to a report from Variety, James Gunn has been fired as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 after a series of offensive tweets were unearthed that made light of pedophelia and rape. Disney, the studio behind the realization of the Marvel comics team of heroes as a movie franchise, made the announcement in the midst of San Diego Comic-Con 2018.
“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,” said Alan Horn, the studio’s chairman.
We are, of course, disappointed. James Gunn was a great director for the series of movies, and whoever follows him in as director will have some mighty big boots to fill.
But what’s even more disappointing is that James Gunn actually did what he’s being accused of by Disney. There’s no walking this stuff back, and there’s no justification for this kind of misogynistic, anti-humanist behavior. We need to know that the people who are helping create our modern mythology in the front aren’t destroying from behind.
This aside, it’s probably worth noting that this story was broken by conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich — perhaps best known as one of the most active promoters of the fake “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory — who dug up some of Gunn’s old tweets, some going back nearly a decade. In the tweets, Gunn makes a number of jokes about pedophilia and molestation. In Pizzagate, right-wing media personalities like Cernovich pushed the idea that Hillary Clinton and other members of Democratic leadership were running a child-molestation ring out of a pizzeria in Washington, DC. They promoted the absurd theory so fiercely that eventually a man who bought into Cernovich’s rhetoric opened fire in the restaurant with an assault rifle.
This isn’t the first time Cernovich has used old Twitter posts to target what he perceived to be outspoken progressive voices. In 2017, he launched a similar smear campaign against MSNBC contributor Sam Seder over a sarcastic tweet Seder had posted regarding Roman Polanski back in 2009. MSNBC initially responded by cutting ties with Seder, though two days later, it reversed course. Gunn, it should be noted, has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and the GOP in general, making him a ripe target for someone like Cernovich to attempt to silence.
No announcement has yet been made regarding a replacement for Mr. Gunn, but as soon as we have that information, you will too. Watch this space.