The Internet reels over the revelation that James Gunn will not be directing the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie. The shock announcement came Friday.
Disney fired Gunn who wrote and helmed both Guardians Vol. 1 and 2 from the upcoming Marvel project following the unearthing of offensive tweets by a conservative news website. The campaign was spearheaded by notorious right-wing pundit Mike Cernovich.
Gunn, who has been a vocal online critic of President Trump, caught the attention of Cernovich, a "Pizzagate" truther. Cernovich encouraged his many loyal followers to target official Disney and Marvel accounts with screenshots of controversial jokes Gunn had made over the years.
Some of the tweets in question were a decade old and most of which have since been deleted. Gunn already apologized for many of them back in 2012, leading fans to question whether Disney already knew about them when they originally hired him.
Taking A Stand
Dave Bautista, who plays the hilariously deadpan warrior Drax in the hit movies, responded about the issue on Twitter. Bautista argued that the director has made mistakes, just as everybody has.
Likewise, Gunn's regular collaborator and longtime friend Michael Rooker posted a now-deleted cryptic tweet in response to a fan asking what his thoughts were on the matter.
"James Gunn knows. That's all that matters," wrote Rooker.
Sean Gunn, brother of the beloved filmmaker and star of several of his movies, also took to social media to post a lengthy message in support of his sibling. He pointed out how much his brother has changed over the years.
Chris Pratt, who plays the lead in the Guardians movies, opted not to comment on the matter during an appearance at Comic-Con in support of The LEGO Movie 2.
Sen. Ted Cruz also offered his two cents on the matter, suggesting Gunn should face prosecution.
"Wow. These #JamesGunn tweets are just horrible. Child rape is no laughing matter. As Texas SG, I handled far too many child sexual assaults. Truly evil. I'm glad Disney fired him, but if these tweets are true, he needs to be prosecuted," wrote the Republican.
Nothing To Hide
Filmmaker Gunn, who got his start working for Lloyd Kaufman's infamous low budget Troma company, posted several offensive messages on social media between 2008 and 2012. He frequently made light of subjects including pedophilia and rape.
The posts unearthed by a conservative news website put pressure on Disney to sever their connection to Gunn. The 51-year-old filmmaker helmed the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies and was set to also return as director for the third flick.
Gunn released an official statement taking full responsibility for the situation.
"My words 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 had hoped, but also because they don't reflect the person I am today or have been for some time," Gunn wrote.
Fans Fight Back
His replacement as director of Guardians Vol. 3 has yet to be announced, but thousands of fans have already signed a petition asking Disney to reinstate Gunn.
The Grey director Joe Carnahan shared the petition with his Twitter followers on Saturday, when it has already garnered over 50,000 signatures in a matter of hours.
As the petition gained steam, Cernovich pivoted his focus to comedians including Sarah Silverman, Michael Ian Black, and Patton Oswalt, retweeting molestation jokes they previously made.
The right-wing pundit has a history of making offensive statements himself, predominantly about rape and sexual assault. Some of those now being targeted by him had tried in vain to alert their followers as to who was leading the attack on Gunn before it all came to a head.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is scheduled to begin filming in January in Atlanta for a 2020 release.