Anna Sheffer
July 23, 2018 8:37 am

On Friday, July 20th, the Walt Disney Company fired Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn from the series’ upcoming third volume after several of his past tweets containing offensive jokes were unearthed.

As HuffPost reported, Mike Cernovich, a far-right Pizzagate conspiracy theorist, catalyzed the events. Cernovich began re-circulating tweets from 2008 through 2011 in which Gunn, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, made offensive jokes about rape and pedophilia. Disney soon issued a statement announcing that Gunn had been let go from the Marvel superhero franchise. The company did not clarify if it previously knew of Gunn’s old tweets.

"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," Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said in a statement to Time.com.

According to Deadline, Gunn issued a statement disavowing the tweets as “totally failed and unfortunate attempts to be provocative” and said they “don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.” Nevertheless, the director accepts the blame for his past words.

"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," he wrote in his statement. "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."

He also expressed regret for his past jokes in a Twitter thread the day before he was fired, on July 19th.

In the wake of the news, the Guardians of the Galaxy cast took to Twitter to express their thoughts. Dave Bautista, who plays Drax in the films, was the first to react to the news, writing on the 20th that Gunn was “one of the most loving, caring, good natured [sic] people I have ever met.”

Chris Pratt shared a post on July 22nd, in which he quoted Bible verse James 1:19, and many speculate it’s directly in response to the recent events (though there’s no way to know for sure): “Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

Zoe Saldana, meanwhile, wrote that she had been having a “challenging weekend” in light of the news.

“I’m pausing myself to take everything in before I speak out of turn,” she tweeted on July 22nd. “I just want everyone to know I love ALL members of my GOTG family.”

And on July 30th, the entire Guardians of the Galaxy cast wrote an open letter of support for James Gunn, sharing it via social media.

The letter, which was signed by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and several others, states: “We fully support James Gunn. 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.”

You can read the full statement below:

We’ll be keeping an eye out for further updates.

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