Has there ever been a more on-again, off-again celebrity relationship than the one between Disney and director James Gunn? Earlier this year Disney fired Gunn from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie after old tweets resurfaced that included rape and pedophilia jokes, which could jeopardize Disney and Marvel’s family-friendly image, particularly in the #MeToo era. The tweets mostly came from 2009-2011 and were dug up by alt-right agitators aiming to undermine the left.
Cast members of the Guardians movies came to Gunn’s defense, including stars like Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel. In an open letter signed by the actors, they stated their disappointment in Gunn’s “inappropriate jokes,” but emphasized they “fully support” Gunn, privately and publicly pressuring Disney to reinstate Gunn on the movie.
Disney appeared to be considering the actors’ request but will now firmly stand by their decision not to reinstate Gunn, according to Variety. The trade publication detailed a meeting between Gunn and studio chairman Alan Horn where Gunn and his representative pushed hard for a second chance. While the meeting was apparently “civil and professional,” Horn would not change his mind.
Notably absent from the meeting was producer Kevin Feige, who is often regarded as the architect behind Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. He was out of town and unable to attend, according to sources. Rumors circulated that Feige had joined the push behind the scenes to reinstate Gunn, though Feige will now stand behind Disney’s decision. Once he returns, Feige will join Marvel and Disney in finding a new director for the next Guardians installment.
Pratt revealed this week in an Associated Press interview that “it’s not an easy time” for him and that he’s consciously stayed away from media. Dave Bautista has also threatened to quit the Guardians movies should Gunn not be reinstated.
“We all love James and he’s a good friend of ours, but we also really love playing the Guardians of the Galaxy,” Pratt said. “It’s a complicated situation for everybody.”